Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Thomas J. Pelletier, Esq.
Download Decision (PDF)
Docket No.: GCF 99-26
Issued by: Grievance Commission
Date: July 27, 2000
Respondent: Thomas J. Pelletier, Esq.
Bar Number: 002651
Disposition/Conduct: Conduct Unworthy of an Attorney; Conduct Prejudicial to the Administration of Justice
Report of Reprimand
M. Bar R. 7.1(e)(3)(C),(4)
On July 27, 2000, pursuant to due notice, Panel B of the Grievance Commission conducted an attorney disciplinary hearing open to the public according to Maine Bar Rule 7.1(e)(2) in the above matter. The Board of Overseers of the Bar was represented by Bar Counsel J. Scott Davis Respondent Thomas J. Pelletier, Esq., was present with his attorney, William B. Cote, Esq. The complainant, Ms. B., was notified of the parties' stipulations and proposed disposition.
Prior to commencement of the hearing, the parties agreed without objection to the admission by the Panel of Board Exhibits #1-#6. Although no testimony or witnesses were presented, Ms. B. was provided the opportunity to attend and make comment to the Panel, but did not choose to do so. Counsel then stipulated to the following facts which the Panel now adopts and so finds:
Petitioner is the Board of Overseers of the Bar (Board).
Respondent Thomas J. Pelletier, Esq. (Pelletier) of Caribou, County of Aroostook, and State of Maine, is and was at all times relevant hereto an attorney duly admitted to and engaging in the practice of law in the State of Maine, and thereby subject to the Maine Bar Rules.
As set forth below and agreed, Pelletier engaged in conduct unworthy of an attorney and violated specific portions of the Maine Bar Rules as referenced below:
On or about January 26, 1999 Ms. B. filed a complaint on a pro se basis in the Caribou District Court seeking a Temporary Restraining Order against Mr. G.
A hearing on that matter was scheduled for February 10, 1999 at which time Ms. B. was represented by Pelletier on a pro bono basis.
Pelletier provided proper legal services and representation for Ms. B. in that matter.
A related hearing occurred on February 26, 1999, at which time Pelletier appeared again and provided competent legal services for Ms. B.
At a pre-trial preparation meeting at Pelletier's office on February 25, 1999, Pelletier had commented to Ms. B. that she was attractive a remark made in the context of a discussion that Ms. B's current boyfriend was creating legal difficulties for her.
At the second hearing, Pelletier offered to give Ms. B. a ride to her home in Presque Isle, rather than having Ms. B's grandmother and children wait for Ms. B. in the car at the courthouse in a snowstorm.
During that trip to Presque Isle, Pelletier commented to Ms. B. that she was very attractive, and made other remarks that he should have understood would be interpreted by her to be of an inappropriately casual nature beyond the scope of his representation.
Pelletier has no prior disciplinary record and agrees to stipulate to the entry of this reprimand to avoid occasioning any further difficulty for Ms. B. Mr. Pelletier has expressed his sincere remorse for the difficulties experienced by Ms. B. owing to his conduct.
This Panel concludes and Respondent Pelletier admits that he engaged in conduct unworthy of an attorney by making inappropriate personal remarks to his client, Ms. B., who had just been through a family matter type court hearing. In such an attorney/client setting, he should have known and appreciated that his client would be affronted and confused as to his true allegiance to her legal problem.
As a result, the Panel thereby finds that Pelletier violated Maine Bar Rules: 3.1(a)(Conduct Unworthy of an Attorney); 3.2(f)(4)(Conduct that is Prejudicial to the Administration of Justice).
Accordingly, the Panel agrees with counsel's recommendation that the appropriate disposition of this complaint is that Thomas J. Pelletier, Esq. be and hereby is reprimanded for violating the cited Maine Bar Rules as established in the findings of fact set forth in this Report.
For the Grievance Commission
Susan E. Hunter, Esq., Chair
David R. Weiss, Esq.
Marvin C. Chaiken