Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Rose L. Jordan
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Docket No.: GCF No. 11-021
Issued by: Grievance Commission
Date: December 23, 2011
Respondent: Rose L. Jordan
Bar Number: 002783
Order: Dismissal with Warning
Disposition/Conduct: Failure to File Required Affidavit after being Administratively Suspended
STIPULATED REPORT OF FINDINGS AND ORDER OF PANEL C OF THE GRIEVANCE COMMISSION
On December 19, 2011, with due notice, Panel C of the Grievance Commission conducted a public disciplinary hearing pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 7.1(e)(2)(E), concerning alleged misconduct by the Respondent, Rose L. Jordan (Jordan). This disciplinary proceeding was commenced by the filing of a Stipulated Disciplinary Petition by the Board of Overseers of the Bar (the Board) on August 10, 2011.
At the hearing, Jordan was not present and the Board was represented by Assistant Bar Counsel Jacqueline L.L. Gomes. Prior to the disciplinary proceeding, the parties had submitted a stipulated, proposed 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:
Respondent Rose L. Jordan of Wells, Maine was, until the imposition of an administrative suspension, at all times relevant hereto either an attorney duly admitted to and authorized to engage in the practice of law in the State of Maine and/or a suspended Maine attorney, and in all events and respects subject to the Maine Bar Rules and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct.
Jordan was admitted to the Maine Bar in 1983. On or about August 8, 2009, Jordan notified the Board that she was changing her status from active to inactive registration on the Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Registration Statement and she was exploring emeritus status. Jordan paid the registration fee required for emeritus status but did not remit the full amount to register as inactive.
On or about July 8, 2010, Jordan completed and returned the Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Registration Statement notifying the Board that her mail and phone contact would be unpredictable through June 2011 and that she had not actively practiced law for at least ten (10) years. Jordan’s written notice did not comply with the affidavit requirements of Maine Bar Rule 7.3(i)(2)(A)(B).
Jordan was administratively suspended for failure to pay the remaining balance of her annual registration fee for Fiscal Year 2010 and her failure to remit the annual registration fees for Fiscal Year 2011. Jordan was informed that she needed to file an affidavit complying with the requirements Maine Bar Rule 7.3(i)(2)(A)(B). On or about December 24, 2010 she explained in a letter that she was on a boat, did not have access to a Notary Public and could not prepare an affidavit at that time.
On January 13, 2011 Bar Counsel opened a sua sponte complaint against Rose L. Jordan for her failure to file the required affidavit. Jordan did not file a response to the grievance complaint. On April 28, 2011 a panel of the Grievance Commission reviewed the file on Jordan’s conduct and found probable cause to believe that Jordan had engaged in misconduct subject to sanction under the Maine Bar Rules.
On July 25, 2011, Jordan responded to correspondence from Assistant Bar Counsel Jacqueline L.L. Gomes and indicated her intent to file an affidavit in compliance with M. Bar R. 7.3(i)(2(A)(B). Jordan filed that affidavit on August 1, 2011.
Jordan violated Maine Bar Rule 7.3(i)(2)(A)(B) and Maine Rules of Professional Conduct 8.1(b) and 8.4(a). As a consequence of her administrative suspension, she is not currently a licensed member of the Maine bar, nor has she completed a change of status to inactive or withdrawn from the practice of law.
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 to properly discharge their professional duties. The following factors are to be considered in imposing sanctions; The duty violated, the lawyer’s mental state, the actual or potential injury caused by the lawyer’s misconduct and the existence of any aggravating or mitigating circumstances. See ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions, 1991 (ABA Standards). See also M. Bar R. 7.1(e)(3)(C).
The first factor to be considered for sanctions under the ABA Standards is to determine what duty has been breached. The Maine Rules of Professional Conduct specifically require attorneys to uphold their responsibilities to clients and the courts. Jordan violated her duties to the legal system by failing to complete the annual registration requirements in 2010 as well as failing to file the required notification affidavit once she was administratively suspended. Jordan’s neglect caused minor injury to the legal system. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court promulgated the Maine Bar Rules and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct to govern the practice of law by Maine attorneys. The information collected by the annual registration of lawyers facilitates the protection of the public and courts.
There are no aggravating circumstances. There are, however, several mitigating circumstances. This misconduct is not the result of dishonest or selfish motives. Jordan submitted the required affidavit and stated that she had not represented any clients for at least ten years prior to requesting a change to inactive status on August 9, 2009. Jordan was mistaken when she thought that she had completed the requirements for inactive status in 2009. There was no injury to any clients as a result of her misconduct. Further, Jordan took responsibility for her transgressions.
Because the misconduct was minor, there was no harm to any clients, little harm to the profession and the misconduct is unlikely to be repeated, the Panel accepts the agreement of the parties, including Jordan’s separately executed waiver of the right to file a Petition for Review. As a result, the Panel concludes that the appropriate disposition of this case is a Public Dismissal With Warning to Rose L. Jordan which is now hereby issued pursuant to M. Bar R. 7.1(e)(3)(C), (4).
For the Grievance Commission
Peter C. Fessenden, Esq., Chair
Martica S. Douglas, Esq.
Christine Holden, Ph.D.