Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Melissa Coulombe Lalumiere, Esq.
Download Download Decision (PDF)
Docket No.: GCF# 18-031
Issued by: Grievance Commission
Date: August 13, 2018
Respondent: Melissa Coulombe Lalumiere, Esq.
Bar Number: 009242
Disposition/Conduct: Communications With Person Represented by Counsel and Limited Representation
M. Bar R. 13(e)
On August 13, 2018, with due notice and pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 13(e), Panel B of the Grievance Commission conducted a public disciplinary hearing concerning misconduct by the Respondent, Melissa Coulombe Lalumiere, Esq. (Attorney Lalumiere). The Board of Overseers of the Bar (the Board) commenced this proceeding by the May 16, 2018 filing of a Stipulated Disciplinary Petition.
At the hearing, Attorney LaLumiere appeared pro se and the Board was represented by Deputy Bar Counsel Aria Eee. Also present was the complainant, David C. Morse Esq.
Prior to the scheduled hearing date, the parties notified the Clerk that they had negotiated a proposed settlement of the disciplinary matter. The proposed sanction report was submitted to the Clerk for the Commissions advanced review and consideration. Bar Counsel also provided Attorney Morse with a copy of the parties proposed Stipulated Report in advance of the stipulated hearing.
Having reviewed the agreed, proposed findings as presented by counsel, the Grievance Commission makes the following findings and disposition:
Respondent Melissa Coulombe Lalumiere, Esq. (Attorney Lalumiere) of Cumberland, ME has been at all times relevant hereto an attorney duly admitted to and engaging in the practice of law in the State of Maine. As such, her conduct is governed by the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) and she is subject to the Maine Bar Rules. Attorney Lalumiere was admitted to the Maine Bar in 2002 and she is currently a solo practitioner.
Attorney Lalumieres practice areas include landlord tenant disputes. It was within that context that Attorney Morse filed a grievance complaint against Attorney Lalumiere. In that regard, on one occasion during a November 2017 court event, Attorney Lalumiere had direct contact with Attorney Morses client. She did so without Morses knowledge or consent to the contact. As a result of Attorney Lalumieres unauthorized contact with the represented party, her actions constituted a violation of MRPC 4.2. Attorney Lalumiere acknowledges that she engaged in the violation and has assured the Grievance Commission that she will not engage in future professional misconduct.
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. Since the evidence supports a finding and Attorney Lalumiere agrees that she did in fact violate the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct, the Grievance Commission must now issue an appropriate sanction.
The Commission relies on Maine Bar Rule 21(c) for guidance as to the proper factors to consider and apply in the issuance of an appropriate disciplinary sanction. Maine Bar Rule 21 states as follows:
(c) Factors to be Considered in Imposing Sanctions. In imposing a sanction after a finding of lawyer misconduct, the Single Justice, the Court, or the Grievance Commission panel shall consider the following factors, as enumerated in the ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions:
- whether the lawyer has violated a duty owed to a client, to the public, to the legal system, or to the profession;
- whether the lawyer acted intentionally, knowingly, or negligently;
- the amount of the actual or potential injury caused by the lawyer's misconduct; and
- the existence of any aggravating or mitigating factors.
In this matter, Attorney Lalumiere agrees that her misconduct violated duties that she owed to the public and profession. Although Attorney Lalumiere reports that she did not intentionally engage in the unauthorized contact with Attorney Morses client, she knew or should have known that MRPC 4.2 prohibits any unauthorized contact with a represented party. The Grievance Commission notes that the prohibition against such contact exists to protect persons from possible overreaching by lawyers who are participating in the matter and or the uncounseled disclosure of information relating to the representation. See M. R. Prof. Conduct 4.2 Comment . Notwithstanding Attorney Lalumieres unauthorized contact, there was reportedly little to no injury to Attorney Morses client resulting from the incident.
Pursuant to M. Bar R. 13(e)(6)(8), prior to imposing a sanction, the Commission has considered the existence or absence of any prior sanction record. Additionally, as regards aggravating factors, Attorney Lalumiere has substantial experience in the practice of law. In mitigation, Attorney Lalumiere has no disciplinary record, she has admitted her misconduct and has been cooperative throughout the prosecution of this matter.
Taking all of the above factors into consideration, and consistent with the analysis outlined in M. Bar R. 21(c), the Commission finds that a Public Reprimand is the appropriate sanction to impose. Therefore, the Commission accepts the agreement of the parties, including Attorney Lalumieres separately executed waiver of the right to file a Petition for Review, and concludes that the final disposition of this case is a REPRIMAND to Melissa Lalumiere, Esq. which is now hereby issued and imposed upon her pursuant to M. Bar R. 13(e)(1) and 21(b)(5).
Date: August 13, 2018
Vendean V. Vafiades, Esq., Panel Chair
Gretchen L. Jones, Esq., Panel Member
Michael W. Arthur, LCPC, Public Member