Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Andrews B. Campbell, Esq.
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Docket No.: GCF 04-185
Issued by: Grievance Commission
Date: March 28, 2006
Respondent: Andrews B. Campbell, Esq.
Bar Number: 001344
Disposition/Conduct: Conduct During Representation: Standards of Care and Judgment; Responsibilities of a Supervisory Lawyer
REPORT OF FINDINGS OF PANEL E OF THE GRIEVANCE COMMISSION
On March 28, 2006, pursuant to due notice, Panel E of the Grievance Commission conducted a disciplinary hearing open to the public according to Maine Bar Rule 7.1(e)(2), concerning admitted misconduct by the Respondent, Andrews B. Campbell. This disciplinary proceeding was commenced by the filing of a Petition by the Board of Overseers of the Bar on February 2, 2006.
Present at the hearing were Bar Counsel J. Scott Davis, representing the Board, and Attorney William B. Cote with his client, Respondent Andrews B. Campbell. The complainant, Dale Wood, is currently incarcerated and was therefore not present at the hearing, but Bar Counsel had provided Mr. Wood with a copy of the Board's proposed Report in advance of the hearing.
Attorney Campbell addressed the Panel concerning his misconduct. Having considered the comments of those present at the hearing and reviewed the agreed upon proposed findings presented by counsel, the Panel makes the following findings and disposition:
Respondent Andrews B. Campbell of Waldoboro, Maine was at all times relevant hereto an attorney admitted to and engaging in the practice of law in Maine and subject to the Maine Bar Rules. He was admitted to the Maine bar in 1972, but was suspended and then disbarred from practice from 1987-1999. He was conditionally reinstated to practice in 1999 and opened his law office in Waldoboro. Upon his full compliance with those conditions in 2001, the Court (Saufley, J.) found that he had successfully returned to the practice of law and therefore ordered the removal of all remaining reinstatement conditions.
On June 15, 2004 Dale Wood filed a complaint with the Board against Attorney Campbell. The complaint alleged inter alia that Campbell had agreed to handle Wood's potential case claiming he had been assaulted by correction officials, but mishandled it by failing to adequately communicate with Wood and by losing critical documents.
Since his reinstatement, Attorney Campbell has accepted cases representing inmates in various Maine correctional facilities. While Campbell asserts that he had not officially accepted Wood's case as his attorney, he agrees that in 2002 he had drafted a Notice of Claim for Wood, and failed to clarify with Wood the fact of his declination of actual legal representation of Wood.
Attorney Campbell agrees and admits that he failed to properly clarify to Wood that legal representation by Campbell had not in fact commenced, and that Wood could have reasonably believed that Campbell was his attorney.
In addition, Campbell agrees that he and his firm failed to entirely safeguard Mr. Wood's file such that some of his original documents appear to have been lost. Ultimately, Mr. Wood came to understand that Campbell had not accepted his case, but Mr. Wood's original documents still were not returned to him in a timely fashion.
On October 12, 2004 this complaint was reviewed by a panel of the Grievance Commission. The panel found probable cause to believe that Attorney Campbell had engaged in misconduct subject to sanction under the Maine Bar Rules for which appropriate discipline should be imposed as provided for in those rules.
The parties have now stipulated to a finding of misconduct as outlined in this Report.
Therefore, based upon the above facts and admissions, the Panel concludes and Attorney Campbell agrees that he engaged in the following Code violations:
- Attorney Campbell violated M. Bar R. 3.6(a); (failure to keep a client informed on the status of matters); and
- Attorney Campbell violated M. Bar R. 3.13(a)(1) (failure to properly supervise attorney staff).
CONCLUSION AND SANCTIONIt is a clear violation of the minimum standards established in Maine's Code of Professional Responsibility for an attorney to fail to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm conform to the Code of Professional Responsibility. During this proceeding, Attorney Campbell has now taken full responsibility for his actions and the subsequent distress it caused Mr. Wood.
As Maine Bar Rule 2 outlines, the purpose of disciplinary proceedings is not punishment but rather protection of the public and the courts from attorneys who by their conduct have demonstrated that they are unable to discharge properly their professional duties. Accordingly, although the Panel knows that Attorney Campbell has a significant public disciplinary record and had been removed from practice for a significant number of years, the Panel agrees with both parties' counsel that the misconduct involved in this current matter - particularly given Attorney Campbell's candor and remorse for that misconduct - and given the particular facts of this case, a reprimand serves those purposes of the Bar Rules.
Therefore, the Panel concludes that the appropriate disposition of this case is a public reprimand which it has now delivered to Attorney Andrews Bruce Campbell as provided by M. Bar R. 7.1(e)(3)(C).
For the Grievance Commission
Charles W. Smith, Jr., Esq., Chair
Stephen Schwartz, Esq. Joseph Reisert, Ph.D.