Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Paul L. Letourneau
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Docket No.: BAR-09-11
Issued by: Supreme Judicial Court
Date: December 16, 2011
Respondent: Paul L. Letourneau
Bar Number: 009544
Order: Order and Decision
On September 20, 2011 the Board of Overseers of the Bar (the Board) commenced the above attorney disciplinary action by filing a Stipulated Information. In a previous, related Order (March 25, 2010), this Court disciplined Defendant Attorney Paul L. Letourneau and placed specific conditions upon his continued practice of law in Maine. Following a November 2011 status conference, the parties informed the Court that they had reached an agreement resolving the most recent grievance complaint filed against Attorney Letourneau.
On December 16, 2011 the Court conducted an uncontested hearing in this matter. Present were Attorney Letourneau, represented by Attorney Charles W. Smith, and Assistant Bar Counsel Aria Eee. Marcus Crowell, a former client of Letourneau who filed the complaint that resulted in this attorney disciplinary action, was notified of the hearing, but did not attend.
Letourneau was admitted to the Maine bar in December 2003. Since his admission, he has worked primarily as a solo practitioner with a concentration in criminal defense and family law. In the course of this and the 2009/2010 proceeding it became apparent to the Court that Letourneau had been unsuccessful in properly managing his busy law office. In the September 2009 Decision and Order, this Court directed that Letourneau restrict his practice solely to criminal cases and submit to monitoring by another attorney. That monitoring occurred from September 2009 until March 2011. Additionally, Letourneau has participated in the MAP program and, although Letourneau's problems were not caused or exacerbated by any mental illness or addiction, he has benefitted greatly from the MAP director's mentorship and direction concerning the management of a law practice.
In April 2011, Crowell filed a complaint with the Board alleging that Letourneau failed to properly advise him during plea negotiations and thereafter failed to keep Crowell informed about the case. Crowell alleges that he relied on Letourneau to advise and inform him during a 2008-2009 criminal case and that Letourneau failed to do so properly. Although Crowell's complaint was filed in 2011, the complained about conduct occurred in 2008 and 2009. Thus, these events occurred during the same time period addressed in this Court's March 2010 Order.
Letourneau denies that he rendered bad advice to Crowell, but he does acknowledge that he failed to exercise proper supervision and control over his legal assistant, a man whom Crowell believed was the second attorney in the law office. Letourneau's failure to supervise his former legal assistant exacerbated problems related to Letourneau's client communications, caused Letourneau to neglect legal matters, and led to the mismanagement of his law practice. Letourneau did finally terminate that legal assistant's further access to and involvement with his firm.
Based upon Crowell's complaint and the stipulations reached for this new proceeding, the Court must again find that Letourneau engaged in violations of then applicable Maine Bar Rules 3.6(a) and 3.13(c).
In its March 2010 order, this Court sanctioned Letourneau with a six month suspended suspension. No complaints concerning new misconduct have been filed since that order. Because Letourneau's misconduct concerning Crowell occurred in 2008-2009, and because the misconduct stemmed from actions that have already been sanctioned, the Court concludes that no further suspension of Letourneau is warranted at this time. Therefore, the Court simply extends Letourneau's obligation to continue his association with MAP and directs Letourneau to refrain from further misconduct. If Letourneau abides by those conditions for the next six months, the Court will not issue any additional sanction.
Finally, for the two years following the date of this Order, Bar Counsel may elect to file a disciplinary information directly with the Court, without any Grievance Commission review or hearing, concerning any newly filed complaints alleging professional misconduct by Letourneau.
Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED and ADJUDGED that Attorney Paul L. Letourneau is to remain subject to MAP's supervision until June 17, 2012. To that end, Letourneau shall remain in contact with MAP Director Nugent to determine which MAP services he must undertake in order to correctly manage his law practice. If requested to do so, Letourneau shall enter into or extend a contract for MAP services and, if recommended by Director Nugent, he shall undergo an additional period of attorney monitoring. Likewise, if Director Nugent advises Letourneau to once again restrict his practice areas, then Letourneau shall adhere to that advice, and Bar Counsel and the Court shall each be notified by Letourneau of the same.
A failure to abide by any of these conditions may result in a finding of contempt by the Court and further post-judgment proceedings.
FOR THE COURT
Ellen Gorman, Associate Justice Maine Supreme Judicial Court