Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Stephen J. Bourget, Esq.
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Docket No.: 09-207
Issued by: Grievance Commission
Date: July 26, 2010
Respondent: Stephen J. Bourget, Esq.
Bar Number: 003737
Disposition/Conduct: Conduct Unworthy of an Attorney; Conduct Prejudicial to the Administration of Justice
STIPULATED REPORT OF FINDINGS AND ORDER OF PANEL D OF THE GRIEVANCE COMMISSION M. Bar R. 7.1(e)(2)(4)
On July 26, 2010, with due notice, Panel D of the Grievance Commission conducted a public disciplinary hearing pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 7.1(e)(2)(E), concerning misconduct by the Respondent, Stephen J. Bourget, 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 April 28, 2010.
At the proceeding, Attorney Bourget was represented by Attorney James M. Bowie, and the Board was represented by Bar Counsel J. Scott Davis. Complainant Rebecca S. Webber, Esq. of Auburn, Maine had been provided by Bar Counsel in advance of that proceeding with a copy of the parties’ proposed stipulated sanction Report. Attorney Webber confirmed to Bar Counsel her agreement with the content of that proposed Report and thereby elected to not attend the proceeding. Pursuant to M. Bar R. 7(b)(6), Bar Counsel Davis and Attorney Bowie agreed Panel D could act on this matter comprised of only one attorney member and one lay member.
Prior to that disciplinary proceeding, 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 counsel, the Panel makes the following disposition:
Respondent Steven J. Bourget, Esq. of Augusta, County of Kennebec, State of 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 Bourget was admitted to the Maine Bar in April 1988 and he is currently registered as an active Maine attorney.
On June 8, 2009 Attorney Webber filed a complaint against Attorney Bourget based upon his improper treatment of her client, Ms. H., who had been Attorney Bourget’s former dating partner. Attorney Webber’s complaint detailed several allegations concerning Bourget’s increasingly offensive conduct toward Ms. H, principally occurring from his telephonic voice and text messages to her.
In retrospect, Attorney Bourget agrees and admits that his sexually explicit communications to Ms. H were indecent, degrading, vulgar and demeaning. He now understands that his actions and comments greatly disturbed Ms. H. and caused her to seek Attorney Webber’s legal help to obtain protection from him through the judicial system. In that regard, Attorney Bourget acknowledges that his communications coupled with his position as an attorney served to greatly intimidate and threaten Ms. H. He agrees that each instance of his insolent, debasing and crude treatment of Ms. H constituted violations of then applicable M. Bar R. 3.1(a)(conduct unworthy of an attorney) and 3.2(f)(2)(4)(conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
As a result of Attorney Bourget’s offensive behavior and treatment of Ms. H., Attorney Webber sought a Temporary Order for Protection from Abuse. Thereafter, the parties agreed to a final Order, issued without findings of abuse, which remains in effect until May 2011.
The Panel notes and confirms that although this improper behavior occurred largely within the context of Attorney Bourget’s personal life, Maine’s professional conduct rules are always applicable to its attorneys. Thus, Attorney Bourget now understands and has confirmed to the Panel that his actions toward Ms. H. were reprehensible and revealed personal behavioral problems which required professional intervention and the court’s issuance of a protective order for Ms. H.
The Code of Professional Responsibility specifically requires attorneys to uphold their responsibilities to clients, the courts and members of the public. As an officer of the court, Attorney Bourget recognizes that his behavior toward all persons must conform to the standards he agreed to uphold when he undertook the Attorney’s Oath at his admission to the Maine bar. The Panel notes that Attorney Bourget has acknowledged his serious transgressions and has contracted for services with the Maine Assistance Program for Lawyers and Judges (MAP). He has also agreed to initiate no direct or indirect contact with Ms. H., even after the May 2011 expiration of the court’s protection order in BANDC-PA-2009-00307.
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 to discharge properly their professional duties. At the disciplinary proceeding, Attorney Bourget expressed his remorse for his serious violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Bar Counsel Davis confirmed for the Panel that Attorney Bourget has no prior sanction record with the Board of Overseers of the Bar. Nevertheless, since the evidence of his serious misconduct in this instance supports a finding and Attorney Bourget agrees he did in fact violate the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Panel finds that its issuance of a public reprimand of him should serve to adequately protect the public.
Therefore, the Panel accepts the agreement of the parties, including Attorney Bourget’s waiver of the right to file a Petition for Review, and concludes that the appropriate disposition of this case is a Public Reprimand of Attorney Stephen J. Bourget, which is now hereby issued and imposed upon him pursuant to M. Bar R. 7.1(e)(3)(C), (4).
For the Parties
J. Scott Davis, Bar Counsel
Stephen J. Bourget, Esq.
James M. Bowie, Esq.
For the Grievance Commission
William Baghdoyan, Esq., Acting Panel Chair
David Nyberg, Ph.D.