Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Peter J. Richard, Jr.

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Docket No.: GCF#15-390

Issued by: Grievance Commission

Date: August 25, 2016

Respondent: Peter J. Richard, Jr.

Bar Number: 004674

Order: Admonition

Disposition/Conduct: Registration, Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters, Misconduct


STIPULATED REPORT OF FINDINGS AND ORDER OF PANEL B OF THE GRIEVANCE COMMISSION
M. Bar R. 13(e)(7)(D)

On August 25, 2016, with due notice, Panel B of the Grievance Commission conducted a public disciplinary hearing pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 13(e)(7)(D) concerning misconduct by the Respondent, Peter J. Richard. The disciplinary proceeding had been commenced by the filing of a stipulated Disciplinary Petition by the Board of Overseers of the Bar (the Board) on June 3, 2016.

At the August 25, 2016 stipulated hearing, the Board was represented by Bar Counsel J. Scott Davis. Peter J. Richard, Jr., did not appear. Prior to the hearing, 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 the parties, the Panel makes the following disposition:

FINDINGS

  1. Respondent Peter J. Richard, Jr. of Topsham, Maine was, until the imposition of an administrative suspension, at all times relevant hereto 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, in all events and respects subject to the Maine Bar Rules and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct.
  2. Mr. Richard was admitted to the Maine bar in 2010 and he is currently subject to an administrative non-disciplinary suspension.
  3. On October 15, 2O15 Mr. Richard was administratively suspended by the Board for his failure to report CLE credit and his failure to register and pay the fees required by Maine Bar Rules.

  4. Mr. Richard did not file the affidavit certifying his compliance with Maine Bar Rule 4(k) as required within 30 days after that suspension date.

  5. The Board sent a letter on December 4, 2015 which notified Mr. Richard of the consequence of his failure to file that required affidavit.
  6. On January 27, 2016, Bar Counsel docketed a sua sponte grievance complaint against Mr. Richard for to his failure to comply with the affidavit requirements. Mr. Richard failed to respond to the investigation of this grievance matter in violation of M. R. Prof. Conduct 8.1(b).
  7. On May 17, 2016 a panel of the Grievance Commission reviewed Mr. Richard's actions and, based upon that review, found probable cause to believe that he had engaged in misconduct subject to sanction under the Maine Bar Rules.
  8. On May 20, 2016, Mr. Richard executed and filed an affidavit indicating that he had not been practicing law, and that he had no actual clients at the time of his administrative suspension in October of 2015.

CONCLUSION AND SANCTION

Mr. Richard violated Maine Bar Rule 4(k)(8) and Maine Rules of Professional Conduct 8.1(b) and 8.4(a). As a consequence of his administrative suspension, he is not currently a licensed member of the Maine Bar.

Among the factors to be considered in imposing sanctions are: 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. 21(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 and the Maine Bar Rules require attorneys to uphold their responsibilities to clients and the courts. Mr. Richard violated his duties to the legal system by failing to complete the annual registration requirements in 2015 and by failing to file the required notification affidavit once he was administratively suspended. Ultimately, Mr. Richard did file the affidavit as contemplated by M. Bar R. 4(K), indicating that he had not been practicing law, and that he had no actual clients at the time of his administrative suspension. As a result, it appears that there was no actual injury to any client, or the public resulting from Mr. Richard’s delay in filing his affidavit.

In sum, the evidence of misconduct supports the reviewing Panel’s findings, and Peter J. Richard, Jr. agrees that he did in fact violate the Maine Bar Rules and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct. However, the Panel agrees that Mr. Richard’s misconduct was minor; that there was little or no injury to a client, the public, the legal system, or the profession; and that there is little likelihood of repetition by Mr. Richard. Accordingly, the Panel concludes that an admonition is a proper sanction to impose upon Richard.

Therefore, the Panel accepts the agreement of the parties and concludes that the appropriate disposition of this case is the issuance of an admonition, which is now hereby issued and imposed upon Peter J. Richard, Jr. pursuant to M. Bar R. 13(e)(10)(B).

Date: August 25, 2016


Thomas H. Kelley, Esq., Panel Chair

Vendean V. Vafiades, Esq., Panel Member
John C. Alfano, Public Member