Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Paul A. Weeks, Esq.

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Docket No.: GCF 10-224

Issued by: Grievance Commission

Date: April 25, 2011

Respondent: Paul A. Weeks, Esq.

Bar Number: 002216

Order: Reprimand/Monitoring Order

Disposition/Conduct: Standards of Care and Judgment


STIPULATED REPORT OF FINDINGS AND ORDER OF PANEL D OF THE GRIEVANCE COMMMISSION M. Bar R. 7.1(e)(2)(4)


On April 25, 2011, with due notice, Panel D of the Grievance Commission conducted a public disciplinary hearing pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 7.1(e)(2)(E), concerning misconduct by the Respondent, Paul A. Weeks, Esq. This disciplinary proceeding had been commenced by the filing of a stipulated Disciplinary Petition by the Board of Overseers of the Bar (the Board) on October 27, 2010.

At the hearing, Attorney Weeks was represented by Attorney Peter J. DeTroy and the Board was represented by Assistant Bar Counsel Jacqueline L. L. Gomes. The Complainant, Sally Guaraldo of Brewer, Maine was provided with a copy of this report (in proposal form) and objected to the proposed Reprimand. Ms. Guaraldo was present at the hearing and addressed the Panel concerning the proposed discipline. Prior to the disciplinary proceeding, the parties had submitted a stipulated, proposed sanction Report for the Grievance Commission Panel’s review and consideration.

Having reviewed the agreed, proposed findings as presented by counsel, the Panel makes the following disposition:

FINDINGS

Respondent Paul A. Weeks, Esq. of Bangor, County of Penobscot, State of Maine, has been at all times relevant hereto an attorney duly admitted to and engaging in the practice of law in the State of Maine and subject to the Maine Bar Rules. Attorney Weeks was admitted to the Maine Bar on October 1, 1980, and he is currently registered as an active Maine attorney.

In February 2008, a pretrial scheduling order was entered in a case Attorney Weeks filed on behalf of Ms. Guaraldo. Attorney Weeks subsequently missed deadlines contained in a pretrial order to designate expert witnesses and to schedule Alternative Dispute Resolution. Opposing counsel filed a Motion to Dismiss on July 23, 2008. Attorney Weeks did not respond to that Motion. On August 25, 2008, opposing counsel sent a letter to the court clerk asking that the motion be brought to the attention of the court. On September 5, 2008, Ms. Guaraldo’s complaint was dismissed with prejudice due to Attorney Weeks’ failure to comply with the relevant deadlines in the pretrial order. As a result, Ms. Guaraldo lost the ability to pursue her claim that she had waterfront access to Phillips Lake in Dedham, Maine which adjoined her property.

Attorney Weeks did assist Ms. Guaraldo in obtaining successor counsel and cooperated in that successor counsel’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to convince the court to set aside the default.

During the same time period Attorney Weeks was representing Ms. Guaraldo, he also neglected his clients in another matter. Attorney Weeks was previously sanctioned for that misconduct with a Public Reprimand and agreed to accept a one-year term of monitoring (GCF# 09-073).

CONCLUSION AND SANCTION

The then effective Code of Professional Responsibility specifically required attorneys to uphold their responsibilities to clients and the courts. Due to Attorney Weeks’ above-outlined failures, Ms. Guaraldo lost all waterfront access rights to her camp. The panel notes that Attorney Weeks has taken responsibility for his transgressions. At the disciplinary hearing, Attorney Weeks expressed his remorse for his serious violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

M. Bar. R. 2(a) provides that the purpose of bar disciplinary proceedings is not punishment, but rather the protection of the public from attorneys who, by their conduct, have demonstrated that they are unable, or likely to be unable, to discharge properly their professional duties. Since the evidence supports a finding and Attorney Weeks agrees that he did in fact violate the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Panel finds that a public reprimand and an additional period of Monitoring for one year under the same terms as the previous Monitoring Agreement serves those purposes. A signed Monitoring Agreement was filed with the Clerk of the Grievance Commission on February 28, 2011. The Panel notes that the Monitoring Agreement was in force as of March 1, 2011.

Therefore, the Panel accepts the agreement of the parties, including Attorney Weeks’ separately executed waiver of the right to file a Petition for Review, and concludes that the appropriate disposition of this case is a Public Reprimand to Paul A. Weeks, Esq. which is now hereby issued and imposed upon him pursuant to M. Bar R. 7.1(e)(3)(C)(4). Additionally, Attorney Weeks shall submit his practice of law to the monitoring of Stephen C. Packard, Esq. of Newport, Maine for a period of one year commencing on March 1, 2011.


For the Grievance Commission

Benjamin P. Townsend, Esq. Chair

Mary A. Denison, Esq.

Kathleen A. Schulz