Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Erielle L. Dexter
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Docket No.: GCF# 17-017
Issued by: Grievance Commission
Date: September 29, 2017
Respondent: Erielle L. Dexter
Bar Number: 004762
Disposition/Conduct: Registration, Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters, Violate or Attempt to Violate the MRPC or the Maine Bar Rules,Conduct Prejudicial to the Administration of Justice
M. Bar R. 13(e)
On September 8, 201 7, with due notice, Panel C of the Grievance Commission conducted a public disciplinary hearing pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 13(e) concerning misconduct by the Respondent, Erielle L. Dexter. This disciplinary proceeding had been commenced by the filing of a Disciplinary Petition by the Board of Overseers of the Bar (the Board) on June 27, 2017.
At the hearing, the Board was represented by Bar Counsel J. Scott Davis. Attorney Dexter failed to appear.
Pursuant to M. Bar R. 13 (e), on or about January 5, 2017, Bar Counsel filed a grievance complaint alleging that Respondent had violated M. Bar R. 4(k)(8), based upon her failure to file the required "notification affidavit" attesting her compliance with M. Bar R. 4(k) in light of her suspension from practice in Maine effective October 18, 2016. At the time of the hearing, the Respondent having failed to appear, Bar counsel indicated his satisfaction with the composition of the Panel.
Effective October 18, 2016, Respondent was administratively suspended by the Board pursuant to M. Bar R. 4(g)(2) due to her failure to comply with the annual registration requirement of M. Bar R. 4(a), and the continuing legal education credit hours requirement of M. Bar R. 5(b) In response to Bar Counsel's letter of January 19, 2017, notifying Respondent of these obligations, Respondent failed to file any response. In response to Bar Counsel's letter of March 7, 2017, requesting her comments in response to the Grievance Complaint, Respondent also failed to file a response.
Respondent remains suspended from the practice of law in Maine for having failed to file the aforesaid affidavits or to have addressed the administrative rule failures that had caused her suspension to be imposed. The panel finds that Respondent has violated M. Bar R. 4(k)(8) and M.R. Prof. Conduct 8.1 and 8.4(a) and (d).
Having concluded that respondent had violated the aforesaid Rules, it remains for the panel to determine the appropriate sanction. The Maine Bar Rules provide 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 properly discharge their professional duties. Among the factors considered in imposing sanctions are: the duty violated, the lawyer's mental state, actual or potential injury caused by the lawyer's misconduct and existence of any aggravating or mitigating circumstances. See Me. Bar. R. 21(c) and ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions, 1991 (ABA Standards).
The first factor to be considered for sanctions under ABA Standards is to determine what duty the Respondent has breached. The Maine Rules of Professional Conduct and the Maine Bar Rules require attorneys to uphold their responsibilities to clients and the courts. Respondent violated her duties to the legal system by failing to complete the annual registration requirements, by failing to file the required notification affidavit once she was administratively suspended, and by failing to comply with the continuing legal education requirements applicable to her, as set forth above. Respondent's neglect caused minor injury to the legal system. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court promulgated the Maine Bar Rules and the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct to govern the practice of law by Maine attorneys. The information collected by the annual registration of lawyers facilitates the protection of the public and courts. Respondent's continuing failure to file an affidavit complying with Maine Bar Rule 4(k)(8) is an aggravating circumstance. Because the evidence supports a finding that respondent did, in fact, violate the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct, the Panel finds that a public reprimand serves those purposes. Therefore, the panel concludes that the appropriate disposition of this case is a public reprimand to Respondent, which is now hereby issued and imposed upon her pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 21(b)(5).
Date: September 29, 2017
Robert S. Hark, Esq., Panel Chair
Justin D. LeBlanc, Esq., Panel Member
Richard P. Dana, CPA, Public Member