Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Ralph A. Dyer

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Docket No.: GCF# 09-426

Issued by: Panel C of the Grievance Commission

Date: May 18, 2012

Respondent: Ralph A. Dyer

Bar Number: 000861

Order: Reprimand

Disposition/Conduct: Knowingly making a false statement of fact concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge


OPINION AND DECISION OF PANEL C

On November 14, 2011, with due notice, Panel C of the Grievance Commission conducted a public hearing in Portland, Maine, pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 7.1(e)(2), on the amended petition of the Board of Overseers of the Bar (also, the Board or Bar Counsel) dated April 4, 2011 seeking the imposition of discipline on Respondent Attorney Ralph A. Dyer for alleged misconduct. Panel members were Ann M. Courtney, Esq., Acting Chair Peter C. Fessenden, Esq., and Lay Member Michael K. Knowles.

At the hearing, the Board was represented by Assistant Bar Counsel Jacqueline L. L. Gomes. The Respondent appeared pro se.

The notice of hearing was dated September 29, 2011. It required parties in interest to object to the composition of the panel before October 14, 2011. On November 3, 2011, Attorney Dyer filed an objection to the participation of Lay Member Michael K. Knowles, which motion was renewed orally at start of the hearing. The objection did not challenge Mr. Knowles’ integrity, impartiality or independence. The gravamen of the motion was that Mr. Knowles was insufficiently “lay” because his employment at the Bergen & Parkinson law firm did not create the necessary “public perspective” contemplated by the Bar Rules. Mr. Knowles meets all of the standards of a “lay member” of the Grievance Commission. In writing on November 9 and again at the hearing, the objection was overruled.

The Board called the Respondent as a fact witness and Phillip E. Johnson, Esq., as an expert and lay witness. Attorney Dyer testified on his own behalf.

Petitioner’s Exhibits P1 and P4 through P10 were admitted without objection. Petitioner’s Exhibits 2 and 3 were withdrawn after Respondent’s objection because they were incomplete; Respondent’s Exhibits R3 and R4 were complete copies of the documents withdrawn by the Petitioner. Respondent’s Exhibits R1 through R13 were admitted without objection. Respondent’s Exhibits R14 through R21 were reserved.

Each side submitted lengthy post-hearing argument and supplemental materials, all of which have been carefully reviewed and considered.

Positions of the Parties

As presented during the travel of the hearing, the Board charged that Attorney Dyer violated Maine Bar Rules 3.1(a), 3.2(c), 3.2(f)(4), 3.7, and/or Maine Rules of Professional Conduct 3.5(d), 8.2(a), 8.4(a), and 8.4(d) by making false assertions of fact and/or other improper statements about the Superior Court trial justice in written argument submitted to the Law Court during or relating to his appeal and other post-trial proceedings from the Business Court’s rulings against Attorney Dyer’s client, Benjamin Hawkins, in Key Equipment Finance, Inc. v. Hawkins & Morse, and in TD Banknorth NA v. Hawkins & Morse. (The Maine Rules of Professional Conduct have superseded the Maine Bar Rules; the Respondent’s statements bridge the period of the two codes’ applicability.) The statements for which the Board seeks to impose discipline were among those for which the Law Court imposed sanctions on Attorney Dyer on December 8, 2009 for “unsupported accusations and aspersions that … call into question the trial court’s independence and competence.” Key Equipment Finance Inc. v. Hawkins, 2009 ME 117, ¶23, 985 A.2d 1139. (Mr. Morse did not file an appeal from the Business Court.) At the hearing, Bar Counsel pressed the Board’s complaint with respect to five statements made by Attorney Dyer in Appellant’s Brief dated June 1, 2009 (admitted at the hearing as Exhibit R3), and with respect to two statements made by Attorney Dyer in his motion to the Law Court for reconsideration (Exhibit R7) dated December 22, 2009.

The five statements at issue from Exhibit R3 read as follows. (We use the numbering set forth in the Board’s amended disciplinary petition.)

Statement 3. “The Superior Court’s finding of no credible evidence to support Hawkins’ contention can only be described as outright bias, extreme naivete [sic] or intentional disregard in order to simplify the instant court action. … There is ample evide3nce [sic] within the September 22, 2008 and February 12, 2009 Decisions to believe that the Superior Court followed its own rule of substance over form, and he intentionally ignored the rule of law.” [Appellant’s Brief – p.29]

Statement 5: “Justice Nivison’s failure to recognize this point is so extreme as to raise suspicion of unacceptable bias or a desire to be rid of the case.” [Appellant’s Brief – p.40]

Statement 6: “The Superior Court has fabricated a set of facts to achieve a predisposed end. s [sic] comprised of far-fetched inferences drawn from the facts in evidence. The decision is almost completely a matter of speculation and fiction. A court of law is not the place to write fictional scripts[.] [Appellant’s Brief – p.43]

Statement 7: “Hawkins submits that the Superior Court must know that it completely mis-handled [sic] this case with contradictory, erroneous decisions by digging the hole deeper in the effort to resolve threshold errors.” [Appellant’s Brief – p.43]

Statement 9: “The actions of the Superior Court are marked by bias and incompetence. This kind of judicial anarchy is not consistent with the notion of substantive due process.” [Appellant’s Brief – p.44]

The two statements at issue from Attorney Dyer’s motion for reconsideration (Exhibit R7) read as follows:

Justice Nivison’s analysis and his own questioning of Hawkins is [sic] taken as an indication to the undersigned of manipulation of fact by the court to achieve a desired outcome. [Motion of Ralph A. Dyer – p.25]

Finding of fact number 19 is a critical fact in Justice Nivison’s analysis, and it is clearly and obviously in error. This mistake made by Justice Nivison cannot be considered a simple unintentional error. It is rational to conclude that Justice Nivison mis-stated [sic] or over-stated a crucial fact in order to achieve a desired outcome. [Motion of Ralph A. Dyer – p.25]

The statements in Appellant’s Brief dated June 1, 2009 were made while the Maine Bar Rules were in effect. Those in the motion dated December 22, 2009 were covered by the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct.

Attorney Dyer readily agreed that each of the written statements to the Law Court were his. The gravamen of his defense is that either they do not violate any disciplinary rule or that the statements are protected speech under the rubric of New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964).

Attorney Dyer asserts three defenses. First, he says that the Board must prove his subjective intent to make false statements of fact or a reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of his statements concerning Justice Nivison’s competence and/or integrity.

Attorney Dyer’s second argument is that none of the statements is a statement of fact at all. Rather, they are statements of his own opinions, and as such are true statements of his opinion. He offers a detailed analysis of deductive and inductive reasoning, arguing that his statements to the Law Court are clear examples of the latter and concluding that statements based the inductive approach are necessarily “opinions” which he sincerely held. He says that the prohibitions of Rules 3.2(c)(1) and 8.2(a) are inapposite because they do not apply to opinions, only to statements of fact.

Finally, and at great length, Attorney Dyer asks us to find that criticism of the judiciary without actual malice by members of the public, including members of the bar, is protected by the First Amendment. New York Times v. Sullivan, supra. He argues that the petition should be dismissed because an agency of the State of Maine cannot impose discipline for robust public criticism of a trial judge.

Attorney Dyer’s testified that he had no prior experience with the trial justice. During the extended litigation in Hawkins, Attorney Dyer came to perceive Justice Nivison as an inexperienced and incompetent jurist who failed to appreciate complex nuances within and between the Uniform Commercial Code and the Bankruptcy Code. He stated that the justice demonstrated bias and a lack of neutrality in his conduct of the case, and that Mr. Hawkins did not receive a constitutionally fair trial as a result. Attorney Dyer affirmed that his written submissions to the Law Court on appeal expressed his sincere subjective opinions on those matters, and that he continues to hold those opinions.

Attorney Philip Johnson testified as an expert witness and as a fact witness on behalf of the Board. In the former capacity, he stated that he viewed Attorney Dyer’s Statements 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 as assertions of fact, that they were objectively false, and that they violated Maine Bar Rules 3.2(c), 3.2(f)(4) and 3.7. He opined further that First Amendment protections for lawyers are limited by applicable professional disciplinary rules when the attorney speaks or writes during a judicial proceeding.

As a fact witness, Attorney Johnson testified that the trial justice enjoyed a widespread reputation as a competent, knowledgeable and impartial jurist. Attorney Johnson has not practiced before Justice Nivison.

The thrust of the Board’s case is straightforward. It asserts that Attorney Dyer’s statements are objectively factual assertions and that they are false. It echoes Attorney Johnson’s opinion that attorneys relinquish some of their First Amendment rights when they go to trial.

Attorney Dyer provided the panel with lengthy pre- and post-hearing memoranda plus copies of 17 court decisions and scholarly articles. Bar Counsel submitted its own lengthy post-hearing memorandum and copies of 27 more cases in addition to those provided by Attorney Dyer. The Panel has carefully considered the testimony, evidence and argument of both sides and reviewed all of their supplemental submissions.

Rules in Play

Maine Bar Rule 3.2(c)(1) and Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 8.2(a) are substantively similar. The former rule reads:

A lawyer shall not make a false statement of fact, with knowledge that it is false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity, concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge or other adjudicatory officer in the court system or a candidate for election or appointment to office as a judge or other adjudicatory officer in the court system.

The current rule reads:

A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory officer or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

Maine Bar Rule 3.2(f)(4) and Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(d) are substantively similar. The former reads:

A lawyer shall not: … Engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.

The latter states:

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: … engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Maine Bar Rule 3.7(e)(2)(vi) reads:

In appearing in a professional capacity before a tribunal, a lawyer shall not: … Engage in undignified or discourteous conduct that is degrading to a tribunal.

Maine Bar Rule 3.1(a) and Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(a) are substantively similar. The former reads:

… Violation of these rules shall be deemed to constitute conduct “unworthy of an attorney.” …

The latter states:

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: … violate or attempt to violate any provision of either the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct or the Maine Bar Rules …

Discussion

The issues in this case are complex and intertwined. The burden of proof is on the Board as to all factual issues. The standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence.

Attorney Dyer does not dispute the fact that he made the seven statements for which the Board seeks to impose discipline. He maintains stoutly that the Board has failed to show that those statements were factual assertions, and – if they were factual assertions – that the Board failed to show that the statements were false or that they were made with reckless disregard as to their truth or falsity because he had an actual subjective belief that they were true. Finally, and in the alternative, he argues that his statements are constitutionally protected speech about a public figure on a matter of public importance under the rubric of New York Times v. Sullivan, 36 U.S. 254 (1964).

When valuing real estate, the three most important considerations are location, location, location. In determining whether an assertion should be viewed as a statement of fact or a statement of opinion, the three most important considerations are context, context, context. We decline Attorney Dyer’s invitation to engage in an esoteric analysis of inductive and deductive algorithms. It is sufficient for our purposes to examine the plain meaning of each statement in turn.

The first statement (Statement 3) appears in Appellant’s Brief on Appeal [Exhibit R3] as part of footnote 9 on page 29. In the first sentence (“The Superior Court’s finding of no credible evidence to support Hawkins’ contention can only be described as outright bias, extreme naivete [sic] or intentional disregard in order to simplify the instant court action.”), we read the phrase “can only be described as” to mean “is” or “equals” and directly equates Justice Nivison’s finding with outright bias, extreme naiveté, or intentional disregard. We find and conclude that the first sentence in Statement 3 is a statement of fact.

The second sentence (“There is ample evide3nce [sic] within the September 22, 2008 and February 12, 2009 Decisions to believe that the Superior Court followed its own rule of substance over form, and he intentionally ignored the rule of law.”) uses the words “to believe” rather than “can only be described as.” In the context of the entire footnote which states elsewhere that the court made inferences without itself citing to the record, the statement is clearly offered as a fact rather than a supposition. We find and conclude that the second sentence in Statement 3 is a statement of fact.

The second statement (Statement 5) in Appellant’s Brief on Appeal [Exhibit R3] on page 40 (“Justice Nivison’s failure to recognize this point is so extreme as to raise suspicion of unacceptable bias or a desire to be rid of the case.”) appears in the context of a lengthy paragraph that describes Key Equipment’s position as speculative and conjectural. In essence, he asserts that the only fair characterization of the trial court’s ruling is unacceptable bias. We find and conclude that Statement 5 is a statement of fact.

The third statement (Statement 6) (“The Superior Court has fabricated a set of facts to achieve a predisposed end. s [sic] comprised of far-fetched inferences drawn from the facts in evidence. The decision is almost completely a matter of speculation and fiction. A court of law is not the place to write fictional scripts[.]”) appears in Appellant’s Brief on Appeal [Exhibit R3] on page 43. The first two sentences are straightforwardly declarative. We find and conclude that they are statements of fact. The third and fourth sentences are mere hyperbole intended as argument; we do not construe them as statements of fact.

Statement 7 (“Hawkins submits that the Superior Court must know that it completely mis-handled [sic] this case with contradictory, erroneous decisions by digging the hole deeper in the effort to resolve threshold errors.”) is a close call. It appears in the conclusion section of the brief where an advocate is often tempted to thump the rhetorical tub. On balance, we find that Statement 7 is more rhetorical than assertive and was not intended to be and does not constitute an assertion of fact.

The fifth statement (Statement 9) in Appellant’s Brief, [Exhibit R3] page 44 (“The actions of the Superior Court are marked by bias and incompetence. This kind of judicial anarchy is not consistent with the notion of substantive due process.”) also appears in the brief’s conclusion. Concluding arguments are strongest when based on simple declarations. We find and conclude that the first half of Statement 9 is a statement of fact, while the second is flighty hyperbole.

Both statements at issue in Attorney Dyer’s December 2009 motion for reconsideration appear on page 25 of that document [Exhibit R7]. The first (“Justice Nivison’s analysis and his own questioning of Hawkins is [sic] taken as an indication to the undersigned of manipulation of fact by the court to achieve a desired outcome.”) appears at the end of a lengthy, tightly reasoned analysis of the evidence presented in the case. It was not central to Attorney Dyer’s argument on reconsideration. It is phrased as an opinion. We take it as unnecessary icing on his cake, but not as a statement of fact.

The second statement in the motion for reconsideration (“Finding of fact number 19 is a critical fact in Justice Nivison’s analysis, and it is clearly and obviously in error. This mistake made by Justice Nivison cannot be considered a simple unintentional error. It is rational to conclude that Justice Nivison mis-stated [sic] or over-stated a crucial fact in order to achieve a desired outcome.”) appears at the end of footnote 12, which is another lengthy, tightly reasoned analysis. Unlike the first, this statement is presented as the factual, not rhetorical, capstone. We find and conclude that it is a statement of fact.

Having narrowed the field of statements under examination from seven to five, we must determine if they are false. Or, more accurately, we must determine whether the Board has met its burden of proof that Attorney Dyer made “a false statement of fact, with knowledge that it is false” (Maine Bar Rule 3.2(c)(1)) or “a statement that the lawyer knows to be false” (Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 8.2(a)) or that he made those statements “with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity” all concerning the qualifications or integrity of Justice Nivison. Attorney Dyer further asserts that it is his subjective belief in the truth of those statements which should be examined, not whether they are objectively accurate.

Our determination that these five statements were “statements of fact” structures the remainder of our analysis. The truth of those statements was presented to the Law Court by Attorney Dyer as the factual basis for his client’s appeal. He said, in essence, that the Law Court should reverse the lower court’s decision, not because of oversight, misunderstanding or error, but because Justice Nivison “intentionally ignored the rule of law,” because Justice Nivison had “unacceptable bias,” because Justice Nivison “fabricated a set of facts to achieve a predisposed end,” because Justice Nivision was “incompetent,” and because Justice Nivison did not commit “unintentional error.”

Argument that the court below committed reversible error is routinely presented to the Law Court. Attorney Dyer’s presentation in Key Equipment Finance, Inc. v. Hawkins was unusual because of the putative causal link between the alleged failings of Justice Nivison and his decision. Attorney Dyer did not claim that the trial justice should be reversed because of his own subjective interpretation of the rulings below, but because (he said) Justice Nivison was biased, fabricated facts, and committed deliberate error. Those were objective assertions and should be examined accordingly.

In addition, courts in other states have adopted an objective standard in disciplinary proceedings regarding statements by lawyers against judges. See, e.g., In the Matter of Holtzman, 78 N.Y.2d 185 (1991), Ramirez v. State Bar of California, 619 P.2d 399 (Cal. 1980), and Anthony v. Virginia State Bar, 621 S.E.2d 121 (Va. 2005). As stated by the Supreme Court of Virginia, “A lawyer’s right to free speech is ‘extremely circumscribed’ in the courtroom and, in a pending case, is limited outside the courtroom as well, to a degree that would not apply to an ordinary citizen. [citing Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada, 501 U.S. 1030 (1991)]” Anthony, at 126.

The Board offered Attorney Johnson’s lay testimony that Justice Nivison is a respected jurist with an established reputation for competence, integrity and impartiality. However, the Board offered no direct evidence as to whether Justice Nivison hewed to his standards of competence, integrity and impartiality in this superior court litigation, hence whether Attorney Dyer was accurate in his accusations of incompetence, fabrication and bias.

We were not presented with the complete record on appeal from the underlying Superior Court proceeding (Exhibit 5 contains only parts of the Appendix). We cannot determine for ourselves whether the entire record would support Attorney Dyer’s disparaging descriptions of the trial judge. Nonetheless, we do have Attorney Dyer’s Appellant’s Brief on Appeal [Exhibit R3], his Appellant’s Reply Brief on Appeal [Exhibit R4], and his Motion of Ralph A. Dyer Pursuant to M.R.App.P. Rule 14(b) for Reconsideration of Decision [Exhibit R7].

A brief to the Law Court must include a Statement of Facts, providing citations to the underlying record for any factual assertions. M.R.App.P. 9. Pages 10 - 22 of Attorney Dyer’s Appellant’s Brief on Appeal [Exhibit 3] set out 48 numbered paragraphs identifying specific facts on the underlying record from which his initial argument was crafted. His Appellant’s Reply Brief on Appeal [Exhibit 4] provides another four-plus pages, albeit unnumbered. (While it is not required that factual assertions made in the argument or conclusion of a brief or memorandum include citations to the record, it is good practice.)

We have carefully examined the hundreds of pages of exhibits provided to us for any objective support on the record that Justice Nivison was biased, that he intentionally ignored the rule of law, that he fabricated facts, or that he was incompetent. We found none. We scoured Attorney Dyer’s briefs and memorandum for any citations to objective evidence on the record for those descriptions. We found none. Since he asserted a causal link between Justice Nivison’s alleged bias, fabrication and incompetence and the decision in Key Equipment Finance Inc. v. Hawkins, Attorney Dyer’s failure to provide any objective foundation for that causal link gives rise to the necessary inference that none exists.

While the absence of anything at all on the record to establish Justice Nivison’s alleged flaws does not negate them beyond all doubt, we can and do reasonably infer that the five wholly unsupported statements of fact identified above made by Attorney Dyer about Justice Nivison’s qualifications and integrity were false to a preponderance of the evidence and testimony before us, and that each of those statement was made with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity.

In reaching this conclusion, we are mindful of the Fifth Circuit decision in United States v. Brown, 72 F.3d 25 (5th Cir. 1995). In that case, Attorney Kidd was fined and suspended from practice for a year by the trial court for statements he made on behalf of his criminal client in motions for a new trial and judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict. Specifically, Attorney Kidd alleged the following acts by the trial judge:

1/ He appeared not to be interested in anything that the defendant testified to;

2/ He appeared to give special attention to the witness of the Government;

3/ He seemed to have a mission of belittling, castigating, and otherwise discrediting defense counsel;

4/ He seemed to have anything but an even hand in addressing objections of the Government and of the defendant;

5/ He was partial to the government;

6/ He gave – by gesture – by facial expression – and by oral comments – the impression that he favored the government and disfavored the defendant; and

7/ He gave the jury the impression that he believed the testimony of the Government’s witnesses and simply tolerated the testimony of the defendant’s witnesses as something that was expected of them to say.

The Fifth Circuit reversed the trial judge’s decision. It held that Attorney Kidd “should be free to challenge, in appropriate legal proceedings, a court’s perceived partiality, without ... [its being misconstrued] as an assault on the integrity of the court.” Attorney Dyer urges us to follow the Fifth Circuit’s wisdom in deciding his case.

Brown is distinguishable. The Fifth Circuit was strongly influenced by the nature of the sanction imposed by the district court judge. It noted, “Because attorney suspension is a quasi-criminal punishment …, any disciplinary rules used to impose this sanction … must be strictly construed resolving ambiguities in favor of the person charged.” However, proceedings before a panel of the Grievance Commission are not quasi-criminal in nature. The court also said, “Kidd’s comments about gestures, comments and inattentiveness made in the confines of the judicial process hardly equal … [‘accusations of dishonesty and corruption’].” Fairly read, Attorney Dyer’s charges against Justice Nivison are “accusations of dishonesty.” Brown simply doesn’t apply to the case at hand.

We believe that the approach followed by the district court judge whom the Fifth Circuit reversed was correct. The trial court provided Attorney Kidd with a full opportunity to produce facts, references and citations on the record to justify his accusations. He failed to do so. The trial judge reached the same conclusion regarding Attorney Kidd as we do regarding Attorney Dyer: the accusations were unfounded and made with reckless disregard as to their truth or falsity.

In the absence of the First Amendment considerations raised by Attorney Dyer, our task would be shorter. Having found that five of the statements at issue were statements of fact, that they were false to a preponderance of the evidence, and that they were made with reckless disregard to their truth or falsity, we would ordinarily next determine if those statements violated any of the several rules cited by the Board. Before we can reach that point, we must determine whether the constitutional principles announced in New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. (1964), are within our jurisdictional purview.

Numerous courts have held that lawyers are not protected from professional discipline by the First Amendment. See, e.g., Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada, 502 U.S. 1030 (1991), United States v. Cooper, 872 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1989), Kentucky Bar Assn v. Waller, 929 S.W.2d 181 (KY. 1996), cert. denied 519 U.S. 1111 (1997), In the Matter of Lacey, 283 N.W.2d 250 (S.D. 1979). However, we are aware of only one decision at the Grievance Commission level which addressed the issue. Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Robert P. Brown, File #91-S-228, decided on June 17, 1992, cited State v. Nelson, 504 P.2 211 (Kan. 1972), when the panel ruled that a practicing attorney interacting with a court is held to a higher standard than an ordinary citizen exercising his or her First Amendment rights. The panel did not address whether the First Amendment defense was within its jurisdiction to consider.

We believe that the constitutional issues raised by Attorney Dyer are beyond the jurisdictional competence of a Grievance Commission panel of the Board of Overseers of the Bar under Maine Bar Rules 4(d), 7, or 7.1. While the Grievance Commission acts in a quasi-judicial capacity, it is an administrative body with no general jurisdiction to decide matters beyond those expressly delegated by the Law Court through the Board of Overseers. If Attorney Dyer wishes to maintain his constitutional challenge, he must do so in a judicial forum. We decline to address it.

Discipline

We find that Attorney Ralph A. Dyer violated Maine Bar Rule 3.2(c)(1), Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 8.2(a), Maine Bar Rule 3.1(a) and Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(a) in making the five statements to the Law Court discussed above. Maine Bar Rule 2(a) provides that the purpose of bar disciplinary proceedings is not punishment, but rather the protection of the public. Assessing aggravating and mitigating factors is complicated because, while Attorney Dyer is wholly unrepentant, he has proceeded with the transparent belief that he was both correct and privileged under the Constitution to make the several statements. He is a long-standing and respected member of the bar who has never been disciplined for attorney misconduct. This proceeding was brought not as the result of any dishonest conduct or selfish motive, but because of his genuine albeit mistaken conviction that an attorney may accuse a judge of wrongdoing based on a subjective belief.

In light of the foregoing, the panel imposes a Public Reprimand upon Attorney Ralph A. Dyer for his conduct in violation of Maine Bar Rule 3.2(c)(1), Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 8.2(a), Maine Bar Rule 3.1(a) and Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(a).


For the Grievance Commission

PETER C. FESSENDEN, Esq., Acting Chair

ANN M. COURTNEY, Esq.

MICHAEL K. KNOWLES, Lay Member