Articles Posted in Legal Ethics

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The Supreme Judicial Court denied Robert M.A. Nadeau’s motion for reconsideration of the court’s June 20, 2017 decision in this judicial disciplinary matter. In his motion, Nadeau argued that the sanctions imposed on him - including a two-year suspension from he practice of law and $5,000 forfeiture - for his numerous violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct violated his equal protection and due process of law rights and also violated the Privileges and Immunities Clause. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the two-year suspension from the practice of law did not violate Nadeau’s rights to equal protection and due process of law; and (2) a sanction affecting Nadeau’s license to practice law was not misplaced. View "In re Robert M.A. Nadeau" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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Plaintiff, conservator and guardian for his son Vincent Jones, and Plaintiff’s counsel (Attorney) appealed from two orders issued by the probate court that (1) dissolved and replaced a supplemental needs trust that had been created for Vincent’s estate, and (2) directed the Attorney, who created the original trust, to disgorge legal fees paid to her by Vincent and conditionally to pay additional amounts. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) the probate court’s order creating a new supplemental needs trust for Vincent was not void for lack of statutory authority; and (2) the payment order against the Attorney deprived the Attorney of due process. View "In re Guardianship & Conservatorship of Jones" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court ordered that former York County Probate Judge Robert M.A. Nadeau forfeit $5,000 and be suspended from the practice of law in Maine for two years for violations of Canons 2(A), 2(B), and 3()(4) of the 1993 Maine Code of Judicial Conduct and for violation of Rule 4.2(C)(1) of the 2015 Maine Code of Judicial Conduct. The court based its sanctions based on two reports filed by the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability alleging a total of six violations of the Maine Code of Judicial Conduct by Nadeau arising from Nadeau’s actions while he was a judge-elect, a sitting judge, and a candidate for reelection as probate judge. View "In re Robert M.A. Nadeau" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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Attorney Susan Thiem represented Ann Thomas, an allegedly incapacitated person, during this action for appointment of a guardian and conservator. During the proceedings, the probate court issued an order imposing sanctions against Thiem based on a finding that she had “unreasonably interfered” with the discovery process. The sanctions order required Thiem to pay reasonable expenses, including attorney fees. Thiem appealed, arguing that the court abused its discretion by imposing sanctions. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the appeal as interlocutory without reaching the merits, holding that because the court had not yet quantified the amount of any attorney fees and expenses to be paid by Thiem as a sanction, the sanctions order was not a final judgment suitable for appellate review. View "Conservatorship & Guardianship of Ann B. Thomas" on Justia Law

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The Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability filed a report against Probate Judge Robert Nadeau. The Committee alleged that Judge Nadeau violated the Maine Code of Judicial Conduct based on statements he made in a letter to counsel regarding a court proceeding in which he was a party and based on his judge-related Internet and social media activity. The Supreme Judicial Court held that Judge Nadeau committed one actionable violation of the Code based on his statements to counsel. The Court imposed a public censure and reprimand and a thirty-day suspension from the performance of his duties as judge of the Probate Court. View "In re Robert M.A. Nadeau" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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Scott Liberty appealed a superior court's interlocutory order that denied his motion to reconsider his motion to disqualify attorney Martha Gaythwaite from representing Jeffrey Bennett. Liberty contended that Gaythwaite should have been disqualified because she previously represented Liberty's former attorney David Van Dyke in a legal malpractice action brought by Liberty. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court found that Liberty failed to demonstrate that any exception to the "final judgment rule" should have applied to justify reaching the merits of this appeal. Accordingly, the Court dismissed Liberty's appeal. View "Liberty v. Bennett" on Justia Law

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This case arose from an investigation by the Board of Overseers of the Bar in into the actions of six law firm attorneys who were involved in the discovery and reporting of the misconduct of a former partner in the law firm. The Board, acting through bar counsel, appealed from a prehearing discovery order entered by a single justice of the Supreme Court granting the six attorneys' motion to quash a subpoena and also appealed from a judgment entered by a single justice determining that none of the six attorneys violated the Maine Bar Rules in responding to the former partner's misconduct. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the order granting the motion to quash the subpoena, but (2) vacated the judgment finding no violation of the Maine Bar Rules because the six attorneys, who were partners in the firm who were acting as the firm's executive committee and were the only lawyers within the firm who knew of Duncan's actions, violated Me. Bar R. 3.13(a)(1), which requires law firm partners to make efforts to enact procedures that will deter unethical behavior. View "Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Warren" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court received a report from the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability recommending that Probate Judge Lyman Holmes be sanctioned for certain violations of the Maine Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 3(B)(8), which requires that judges dispose of all judicial matters promptly. Judge Holmes conceded a pattern of unacceptable delays in managing and resolving at least five cases entrusted to him, the most egregious of which involved a delay of nearly five years in the resolution of a matter involving family contact with a child. The Supreme Court concluded that the pattern of delays constituted of violation of Canon 3(B)(8) and ordered that Judge Holmes be sanctioned for the violations. View "In re Holmes" on Justia Law