Saturday, March 27, 2021
The Maine Grievance Commission has ordered a public reprimand for an attorney's adverse action toward a former client
By way of background, Ms. Mee was a romantic partner to MM from approximately 2013 through October 2017. At some point, MM's parents died and he inherited personal property and money. Some or all of that money was deposited to an account jointly owned by Ms. Mee and MM. In October 2017, MM was incarcerated.
At various times, Attorney Ferris represented Ms. Mee. One of those instances was relevant to this matter. In January 2017, Attorney Ferris was retained by Ms. Mee, MM, and a third person named KK for representation in a civil matter in Somerset County. In August 2018, after MM was incarcerated Ms. Mee and MM were dismissed from the civil action. Attorney Ferris continued to represent KK in that matter.
In that matter, Attorney Ferris represented the defendants. The matter related to a tenancy relationship the three defendants held with the plaintiff in that action, and the documentation of proper payment of certain funds to prove ownership of certain equipment
...In other words, Ferris proved that equipment in KK's possession rightfully belonged to Mee and MM because that equipment had been properly purchased by Mee and MM with funds from the jointly held account.
In January of 2020, Attorney Ferris filed a new civil action against Emily Mee on behalf of MM. In that new action, Attorney Ferris alleged that Emily Mee had improperly converted money belonging to MM from the same account he had characterized as joint in the prior action. Without delving into the questionable validity of a claim for conversion of joint property, Attorney Ferris's conduct violated Rule 1.9.
Here, the matters are substantially related because they involve the same set of transactions from the same account. They also involve the same people associated with that account.
Attorney Ferris does not dispute that the two actions involve the same account. In his final letter responsive to the grievance complaint, he wrote, "...I did not believe at the time that there was a conflict in representing MM in an action involving MM v. Mee. Respondent did not learn that the money at issue was actually deposited in the same account referenced in the KK exhibit until after the onset of this Bar Complaint."
Attorney Ferris now agrees that he should not have undertaken representation of MM against Ms. Mee under those circumstances.