Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Steven A. Juskewitch, Esq.
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Docket No.: GCF#14-366
Issued by: Grievance Commission
Date: July 20, 2015
Respondent: Steven A. Juskewitch, Esq.
Bar Number: 000272
Disposition/Conduct: Reporting or threatening to report misconduct to an administrative authority solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter, dealing with an unrepresented person, Conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice
M. Bar R. 13(e)
On July 20, 2015 with due notice and pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 13(e), Panel A of the Grievance Commission conducted a public disciplinary hearing concerning misconduct by Respondent Steven A. Juskewitch, Esq. The Board of Overseers of the Bar (the Board) commenced this disciplinary proceeding by filing a Stipulated Disciplinary Petition on March 18, 2015.
At the hearing, Attorney Juskewitch was present and represented by Attorney Malcolm L. Lyons, and the Board was represented by Bar Counsel J. Scott Davis. Complainants Gerard and Lucy Poole were not in attendance at the hearing but had earlier been provided by Bar Counsel Davis with a copy of the proposed Report and Gerard Poole indicated his understanding of the sanction set forth within that proposed Report. Prior to that hearing date, the parties submitted that stipulated proposed sanction Report for this Panel's review and consideration.
Having reviewed the stipulated, proposed findings as presented by counsel, the Panel makes the following disposition:
Respondent Stephen A. Juskewitch, Esq. of Ellsworth, Maine has been at all times relevant hereto an attorney duly admitted to and engaged in the practice of law in the State of Maine and subject to the Maine Bar Rules and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct. He was admitted to practice in Maine in 1976, and is currently a sole practitioner with a law office located in Ellsworth, Maine.
On or about July 21, 2014 Gerard and Lucy Poole filed a grievance complaint against Juskewitch. That complaint was based upon the manner in which he repeatedly improperly contacted Lucy concerning the position(s) she was then asserting regarding her interest in real estate located at 6 Hardie Lane in Stonington, Maine.
The relevant chronological history regarding the Pooles' complaint matter is set forth as follows:
At the time of his actions, Juskewitch became aware that Lucy suffered from significant and incapacitating medical problems, and he now acknowledges he took advantage of her vulnerable state.
As referenced several times by complainants Lucy and Gerard Poole, Juskewitch engaged in repetitive improper conduct and inappropriate action to try to obtain Lucy Poole's signature on documents which would ultimately benefit his client, James Hardie, to the disadvantage of Lucy Poole.
Juskewitch did so without properly informing Lucy that: a). he was not her attorney; b). instead, he was in fact the attorney for James Hardie, whose interests were directly adverse to hers; and c). Hardy would benefit to Lucy's disadvantage if she followed Juskewitch's "advice." Juskewitch admits that his conduct violated M. R. Prof. Conduct 4.3; and 8.4(a)(d).
The Maine Rules of Professional Conduct specifically require attorneys to uphold their responsibilities as officers of the court. Accordingly, based upon Attorney Juskewitch's improper actions and lack of appropriate professional judgment, the Panel finds that he violated M. R. Prof. Conduct 3.1(b); 4.3; and 8.4(a)(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice). The Panel notes that Attorney Juskewitch has taken responsibility for his behavior. He has acknowledged the wrongfulness of his actions and expressed remorse to the Panel for his violations of those particular portions of the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct. Bar Counsel has confirmed to the Panel that although Juskewitch has no prior disciplinary record on file with the Board, he was publicly sanctioned in 2010 and 2011 with two dismissals with warnings issued upon him after hearings with findings being issued that he engaged in minor professional misconduct in two separate and unrelated matters.
The Panel further notes that the purpose of bar disciplinary proceedings is not punishment, but rather the protection of the public from attorneys who have demonstrated that they are unable to properly discharge their professional duties. Since the evidence supports a finding and Attorney Juskewitch agrees that he did in fact violate the above-referenced portions of the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct, the Panel finds that a public reprimand serves those purposes.
Therefore, the Panel accepts the agreement of the parties, including Attorney Juskewitch's 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. Pursuant to M. Bar R. 13(e)(10)(C) the Panel hereby issues that reprimand to Steven A. Juskewitch, Esq.
Date: July 20, 2015
M. Ray Bradford, Jr., Esq., Panel Chair
Sarah McPartland-Good, Esq., Panel Member
Milton R. Wright, Public Member