Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Beth Alison Maloney, Esq.
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Docket No.: GCF#14-417 & GCF#14-459
Issued by: Grievance Commission
Date: June 17, 2016
Respondent: Beth Alison Maloney, Esq.
Bar Number: 009237
Disposition/Conduct: Meritorious Claims and Contentions, Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel, Conduct Prejudicial to the Administration of Justice
M. Bar R. 13(e)(7)(D)
On June 17, 2016, with due notice and pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 13(e)(7)(D), Panel D of the Grievance Commission conducted a public disciplinary hearing concerning misconduct by the Respondent, Beth A. Maloney, Esq. The proceeding was commenced by the Board of Overseers of the Bar's (the Board) May 8, 2015 filing of a Disciplinary Petition concerning two contested family law matters for which there were no complaining clients. Prior to the scheduled hearing date, the parties notified the Clerk that they had negotiated a proposed settlement of the disciplinary matter.
At the June 17, 2016 hearing, the Board was represented by Aria Eee, Deputy Bar Counsel and Walter McKee, Esq. appeared as counsel for Attorney Maloney.
Having reviewed the agreed, proposed findings as stipulated to and presented by counsel, the Panel makes the following disposition:
Respondent Beth A. Maloney, Esq., of Kennebunkport, Maine has been at all times relevant hereto an attorney duly admitted to and engaging in the practice of law in Maine. As such, she is subject to the Maine Bar Rules and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct (M.R. Prof. Conduct). Attorney Maloney was admitted to the Maine Bar in 2002 and is a solo practitioner. In addition to being a lawyer, she is also a published author.
By way of background, for several years prior to her admission to the Maine bar, Attorney Maloney practiced transactional law in California. Such a practice resulted in her having virtually no courtroom experience as a trial lawyer. For most of Attorney Maloney's time in Maine, the bulk of her practice has been as a Guardian ad litem in M. R. S. Title 22 protective custody matters, representing the best interests of children in cases of alleged abuse and neglect.
The complaint matters at issue in this proceeding arose out of Attorney Maloney's trial conduct in two highly contested family law matters involving child custody concerns. One of those matters was detailed in the Maine Law Court decision Dalton v. Dalton 2014 ME 108. The second matter was described within a decision issued by the Rockland District Court, Sullivan v. Tardiff (see Exhibit A).
On September 5, 2014, Bar Counsel initiated a sua sponte complaint matter concerning the apparent misconduct by Attorney Maloney in Dalton. Reference is made to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court's website for the Law Court's decision which details the Court's concerns. Subsequently, on October 1, 2014, Bar Counsel docketed a second sua sponte complaint file concerning the apparent misconduct by Attorney Maloney in Sullivan v. Tardiff In that matter, Attorney Maloney was sanctioned for pursuing/filing non-meritorious claims and contentions. As a result, Attorney Maloney was ordered to pay fees to opposing counsel, and she immediately complied with that order. By that time, although not asked by her clients to withdraw, Attorney Maloney had promptly effected such withdrawal in those legal matters (each with the clients' consent).
Of note, Attorney Maloney has never had any client file a complaint against her. Since the time of these cases at issue, she has referred all inquiries for representation in family matters to other attorneys. At the disciplinary hearing, Attorney Maloney candidly agreed that her conduct was regrettable and that her zeal for her clients' causes had interfered with her professional judgment. She apologized for her behavior and had already determined to no longer accept contested family matters. In the unlikely event that determination changes, Attorney Maloney will engage co-counsel for such contested matters.
The Maine Rules of Professional Conduct specifically require attorneys to uphold their responsibilities as officers of the court. The parties have agreed and the Panel so finds that with respect to these two contested family law matters Attorney Maloney violated M.R. Prof. Conduct 3.l(a) [meritorious claims and contentions]; 3.4(c) [fairness to opposing party and counsel]; and 8.4(d) [conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice]. The Panel notes that Attorney Maloney has taken responsibility for her behavior, acknowledged the wrongfulness of her actions, and expressed remorse for her violations of the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct.
Bar Counsel has confirmed to the Panel that Attorney Maloney has no prior disciplinary or sanction record on file with the Board.
The Panel further notes that the purpose of bar disciplinary proceedings is not punishment, but rather the protection of the public from attorneys who have demonstrated that they are unable to properly discharge their professional duties. Since the evidence supports a finding and Attorney Maloney agrees that she did in fact violate the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct, and that she has taken appropriate steps to address the resulting concerns, the Panel finds that a public reprimand serves those purposes.
Therefore, the Panel accepts the agreement of the parties as a global resolution of the Dalton and Sullivan matters, including Attorney Maloney's separately executed waiver of the right to file a Petition for Review. The Panel concludes that the appropriate disposition of this combined disciplinary matter is a Public Reprimand to Beth Alison Maloney, Esq. which is now hereby issued and imposed upon her pursuant to M. Bar R. 13(e)(10)(C).
Date: June 17, 2016
James A. McKenna III, Esq., Panel Chair
Teresa M. Cloutier, Esq., Panel Member
Emilie van Eeghen, Public Member