Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Andrews B. Campbell

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Docket No.: GCF-08-280

Issued by: Grievance Commission

Date: 04-13-2010

Respondent: Andrews B. Campbell, Esq.

Bar Number: 001344

Order: Reprimand

Disposition/Conduct: Conduct Unworthy of an Attorney; Preserving Identity of Funds and Property; Identify and Label Securities and Properties of a Client


Stipulated Report of Findings and Order of Panel C of the Grievance Commission


On March 8, 2010, Panel C of the Grievance Commission conducted a public disciplinary hearing pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 7.1(e)(2)(E), concerning misconduct by the Respondent, Andrews B. Campbell, Esq. This disciplinary proceeding had been commenced by the filing of a Disciplinary Petition by the Board of Overseers of the Bar (the Board) on October 22, 2009.

At the hearing, Attorney Campbell (Campbell) was represented by William B. Cote, Esq. and the Board was represented by Assistant Bar Counsel, Jacqueline L.L. Gomes. The complainant, John Allen, was not present but participated in the disciplinary hearing telephonically. Prior to the hearing, the parties had submitted a proposed, Stipulated Report of Findings and Order for this Grievance Commission Panel’s review and consideration.
Having reviewed the proposed Report as presented by counsel, the Panel makes the following disposition:

FINDINGS

Respondent Andrews B. Campbell (Campbell) of Bowdoinham, Maine has been at all times relevant hereto an attorney duly admitted to and engaging in the practice of law in the State of Maine and subject to the Maine Bar Rules. Attorney Campbell 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 July 22, 2008, Mr. John Allen (Allen) filed a grievance complaint against Attorney Campbell. The complaint alleged multiple violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility by Attorney Campbell. On or about September 4, 2008 Attorney Campbell, through his attorney, filed a response with the Board, providing information regarding his representation of Mr. Allen. By way of background, Mr. Allen hired Attorney Campbell to represent him in multiple criminal matters and a potential lawsuit for wrongful death, arising from a fatal accident caused by Mr. Allen which occurred on May 24, 2006.

Attorney Campbell drafted a fee agreement letter specifying an initial retainer of $15,000.00 with attorney time to be billed hourly at $150.00. The fee agreement also contained a provision for a mortgage in the amount of $100,000.00 to be placed on Mr. Allen’s home in order to secure legal fees for both the criminal and civil cases. The mortgage was recorded at the Sagadahoc County Registry of Deeds on May 30, 2006.

On June 14, 2006, Mr. Allen was arrested on felony drug charges and was held at the Cumberland County Jail. An associate of Attorney Campbell met with Mr. Allen at the jail. Attorney Campbell had directed the associate to inquire whether Mr. Allen had any cash or other liquid assets to pay for his criminal defense. Mr. Allen confided that he had some jewelry and replica watches at his home along with $10,000 cash, which he explained was hidden inside his house. Mr. Allen guaranteed that the money and property were not drug related and gave his permission for the money and proceeds of the personal property to be used for attorneys’ fees. Mr. Allen gave the associate permission to obtain a key to enter his locked home to collect the money and personal property and transfer them to Attorney Campbell.

Before June 18, 2006, the Bath Police Department executed a search warrant covering Mr. Allen’s residence. On June 19, 2006, Mr. Allen was arraigned on the new charges. Mr. Allen met with his attorneys prior to his court appearance and signed further paperwork brought by Attorney Campbell regarding the mortgage on his home. Mr. Allen’s bail was revoked and he was then held at the York County Jail while his criminal cases were pending. After the court appearance, Attorney Campbell’s associate obtained the money and personal property from Mr. Allen’s home.

Attorney Campbell made no inventory or other contemporaneous record of the personal property removed on June 19, 2006 from Mr. Allen’s home. Campbell directed the associate to deposit $9,500 of Mr. Allen’s $10,000 into a business checking account belonging to Andrews Bruce Campbell, P.A. Unbeknownst to the associate, that account was not an IOLTA. Attorney Campbell obtained a certified bank check for $9,500 the following day and then deposited it into his IOLTA account.

Attorney Campbell instructed his associate to keep $500.00 of the money as compensation. Due to an oversight, Attorney Campbell did not give Mr. Allen credit on his accrued legal fees for the $500.00 which went to Attorney Campbell’s associate. Sometime thereafter, the jewelry, watches, and cell phone were transferred to Attorney Campbell. On June 21, 2006, pursuant to instructions from Mr. Allen, the associate obtained Allen’s wallet and contents from the York County Jail. The wallet and contents were transferred to Attorney Campbell. On June 25, 2006, Attorney Campbell, pursuant to instructions from Mr. Allen, inspected the Allen home and secured it against unauthorized persons. While Attorney Campbell did not make a complete inventory of the personal property contained in Mr. Allen’s home or of any property removed from the home for safekeeping, he did create a contemporaneous record of most of the personal property in photographs.

On June 27, 2006 Attorney Campbell advised Mr. Allen to sell most of his personal property and his residence given the estimated length of time Mr. Allen would be incarcerated. He further advised Mr. Allen to place the resulting proceeds in trust with any remaining balance after the deduction of attorney fees and costs to be remitted to Mr. Allen post-incarceration. On June 28, 2006 Mr. Allen signed a durable power of attorney in favor of Attorney Campbell. The power of attorney allowed Attorney Campbell and/or his paralegal to handle disposition of the personal property and the residence as well as Mr. Allen’s financial affairs. The power of attorney was revised and signed again by Mr. Allen on July 5, 2006 and July 13, 2006.

On July 11, 2006, an appraisal of Mr. Allen’s personal property was conducted. In August 2006, Mr. Allen’s cousin Traci Plummer told Attorney Campbell that, at the direction of Mr. Allen, she had taken some items of Mr. Allen’s personal property for storage and that various belongings of Mr. Allen’s were missing. She refused to make a list of the missing possessions.

On August 6, 2006, Attorney Campbell advised Mr. Allen in writing that he could not be responsible for any lost property if there was no way to verify what property was missing. On August 27, 2006, Attorney Campbell caused the contents remaining in Mr. Allen’s home to be auctioned off pursuant to Mr. Allen’s directions. Attorney Campbell provided Mr. Allen with a copy of the accounting from the sale of the personal property on September 12, 2006.

On September 14, 2006, Mr. Allen communicated to Attorney Campbell that he was discharged. Attorney Campbell notified Mr. Allen in a letter that he would need to seek permission of the Court to withdraw. Campbell then sent a Motion to Withdraw for Mr. Allen’s signature and informed Allen that he was obligated to continue the representation until the Motion to Withdraw was granted.

Based on the facts above, Attorney Andrews B. Campbell engaged in violations of the then-applicable M. Bar R. 3.1(a); 3.6(e)(1)(ii) and 3.6(e)(2)(iii).

CONCLUSION AND SANCTION

The Code of Professional Responsibility specifically requires attorneys to uphold their responsibilities to clients and the courts. Due to Attorney Campbell’s above-outlined failures, his client’s interests were not adequately protected.

The Panel notes that Attorney Campbell has taken responsibility for his misconduct. During this hearing, Attorney Campbell expressed remorse for his serious violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Attorney Campbell indicated that a refund of the overlooked Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) will be remitted to Mr. Allen.

M. Bar. R. 2(a) provides that the purpose of bar disciplinary proceedings is not punishment, but rather the protection of the public from attorneys who, by their conduct, have demonstrated that they are unable, or likely to be unable, to discharge properly their professional duties. Attorney Campbell agrees, and the evidence supports a finding that he did in fact violate Rules 3.1(a); 3.6(e)(1) and 3.6(e)(2)(iii) of the then-applicable Code of Professional Responsibility. Specifically, the Panel finds that Attorney Campbell:

(1) failed to appropriately account for funds received from his client that were initially deposited into a non-IOLTA bank account; and

(2) failed to maintain complete and accurate records of the personal property he and his associate removed from Mr. Allen’s home.

Therefore, the Panel finds that a public reprimand serves the purposes of M. Bar R. 2(a).

The Panel accepts the agreement of the parties, including Attorney Campbell’s waiver of the right to file a Petition for Review, and concludes that the appropriate disposition of this case is a Public Reprimand to Andrews B. Campbell, Esq. which is now hereby issued and imposed pursuant to M. Bar R. 7.1(e)(3)(C), (4).


For the Parties

Jacqueline L. L. Gomes, Assistant Bar Counsel
William B. Cote, Esq.


For the Grievance Commission

David S. Abramson, Esq., Chair
Ann M. Courtney, Esq.
Christine Holden, Ph.D.