Monday, April 6, 2020
An agreed reprimand and probation from the Maine Grievance Commission
Respondent Steven A. Juskewitch, Esq. (Juskewitch) has been at all times relevant hereto an attorney duly admitted to and engaging in the practice of law in Maine. As such, Juskewitch is subject to the Maine Bar Rules and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct (M.R.P.C.). Juskewitch was admitted to the Maine Bar in 1976 and is currently a solo practitioner in Ellsworth, Me.
According to the parties’ stipulations, the Commission finds the following relevant facts:
On December 8, 2018, Richard Eckendorff filed a complaint against Attorney Juskewitch, based upon Juskewitch’s prior representation of Eckendorff. Within his complaint, Eckendorff alleged that Juskewitch threatened him with physical harm, causing Eckendorff to feel fearful and intimidated by his attorney. Eckendorff reported that the threats occurred over the span of four months during the representation. On at least two of the occasions when Juskewitch made the aggressive statements, there was another person present. Eckendorff did not discharge Juskewitch as his counsel. Mr. Juskewitch withdrew from representation after the court granted his motion to withdraw. Sometime thereafter, Eckendorff filed his grievance complaint, which followed his receipt of Juskewitch’s final bill. Eckendorff also complained to the local police but Juskewitch was not charged with a crime.
Juskewitch filed a timely response to the complaint, denying any professional misconduct. Instead, Juskewitch explained that while he did make statements such as "I'm going to strangle you," he did so in frustration with Eckendorff’s lack of focus, not as an intended threat toward his client. Juskewitch averred that his relationship with Eckendorff was a difficult one to manage and his statements were meant to focus the client on preparing for his anticipated testimony. With the passage of time, Juskewitch now agrees that his treatment of Eckendorff fell short of that which is ethically required of attorneys. He has expressed regret for acting in that manner toward Eckendorff.
Even though Juskewitch did not intend to convey a threat to his client, the Commission finds that his actions toward Eckendorff were violative of M.R.P.C. 1.4(a) [communication] and 8.4(d) [conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice].
The Maine Rules of Professional Conduct specifically require attorneys to uphold their responsibilities to clients and the courts. Juskewitch agrees that he violated his duties to comply with those Rules.
Taking all of the above factors into consideration, and consistent with the analysis outlined in M. Bar R. 21(c), the Commission finds that an Admonition and Probation are appropriate sanctions to address the misconduct by Attorney Juskewitch. The parties shall mutually agree upon the Probation terms, but at a minimum, Probation shall continue for one year, and Mr. Juskewitch will consult with an agreed upon person or persons experienced in the proper management of client relations/communications and anger management. The parties have further agreed that the Probation terms shall be maintained within Bar Counsel’s file, and she shall notify the Commission Clerk upon Juskewitch’s successful completion of the period of Probation. With these consented-to-conditions, the Commission accepts the agreement of the parties, including Attorney Juskewitch’s separately executed waiver of the right to file for a Petition for Review.
Pursuant to M. Bar R. 13, the Commission hereby imposes an Admonition and one year of Probation upon Steven A. Juskewitch, Esq.