STATE OF MAINE
SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT
Docket No. BAR-02-03
BOARD OF OVERSEERS OF THE BAR
Bar No. 2926
came before the Court on May 10, 2002. Pursuant to M. Bar R. 7.1(e), disciplinary proceedings
occurred before the Grievance Commission on November l9, 2001. As a result,
the Grievance Commission found probable cause for these court proceedings
to be initiated. The Board of Overseers of the Bar (the Board) was represented
by Bar Counsel J. Scott Davis. The
complainant, Kathleen Mundell, was present. Defendant Joseph R. Hunt, Esq. was present with his attorney,
Richard W. Hall, Esq.
The parties have stipulated to the following
Mr. Hunt was admitted
to practice in Maine in 1984 and has been practicing in Bangor, Maine since
On or about October 9, 2000 Kathleen Mundell of Blue Hill, Maine met for
an office visit with Mr. Hunt and then retained him to pursue a correction
to her child support amount and a change in the visitation schedule contained
within her earlier divorce decree.
That meeting lasted for approximately one hour and included Huntrs
review of what would need to occur, including sending an initial letter
to Mundellrs former spouse, Laurence Rizzio.
They also discussed possible motions to modify and/or enforce the
child support arrearage amount.
then agreed that Mr. Hunt would prepare and send a letter to Rizzio.
On that date, at Huntrs request, Ms. Mundell paid a $250.00 retainer fee.
After that initial meeting date of October 9, 2000, Mr.
Hunt made no further contact either verbally or by letter with Ms. Mundell,
and also failed to answer or respond to Ms. Mundellrs repeated telephone
calls to him.
By letter of
November 28, 2000 Ms. Mundell wrote to Mr. Hunt requesting a refund of the
$250.00 retainer fee based upon his neglect of her legal matter.
He never responded to that letter.
Although Mr. Hunt claims to have
He made no attempts to inform Ms.
Mundell that his earlier estimate of a week or two weeks to perform legal
services had changed to a longer time period.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
The parties have
stipulated and the Court finds that Mr. Huntrs misconduct was neglectful
and in violation of M. Bar R. 3.6(a)(3) (a lawyer must employ reasonable
care and skill and apply the lawyers best judgment in the performance of
professional services. A lawyer shall be punctual in all professional commitments.
A lawyer shall take reasonable measures to keep the client informed
on the status of the clients affairs.
A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to the lawyer).
Mr. Hunt was disciplined
by the Court in 1991 for neglect of a client and then received a suspended
suspension for 90 days with a very informal supervisory arrangement as approved
by the Court's Order of March 6, 1995. Since that time, Mr. Hunt has sustained
no further discipline. From
the facts of this case and his general practice habits, Mr. Hunt agrees
that he needs assistance in the management of his law practice.
Court HEREBY ORDERS that Joseph R. Hunt be and hereby is suspended from
the practice of law in Maine for a period of sixty (60) days, that suspension
being suspended for one year commencing June 1, 2002 subject to the following
terms and conditions:
On or before May 28, 2002, the parties will stipulate to an attorney
being appointed by the Court to serve as the Monitor for Mr. Hunt for a
period of one year commencing June 1, 2002, unless terminated earlier as
herein provided or by other order of this Court;
During the period of supervision,
the Monitor shall receive monthly written reports from Mr. Hunt concerning
the current status of matters in which he has been retained to act as counsel;
The Monitor is a volunteer who shall
receive no compensation and who shall be expected to incur no expense;
Mr. Hunt will meet with the Monitor
within twenty-five (25) days of the date of this Order and thereafter at
the call and convenience of the Monitor on a monthly basis, unless the Monitor
should determine more frequent meetings are appropriate;
The Monitor shall have the right
to withdraw and terminate that service at any time for any reason the monitor
deems sufficient, including for reasons set forth in Paragraph 6 below.
In the event of a withdrawal, the
Monitor shall notify the Court and Bar Counsel, and Mr. Hunt shall then
cooperate to obtain the services of an alternate Monitor to complete the
remainder of the original Monitor's term;
If any aspect of the monitoring
procedure creates a situation which is, or might be interpreted to be a
conflict of interest under the Maine Bar Rules (for example, if Mr. Hunt
is or becomes opposing counsel concerning a matter involving the Monitor),
then the Monitor may adopt any one of the following courses with the proposed
shall cease to act as such and a
potential conflict is avoided;
The Monitor shall continue as Monitor but
Mr. Hunt's client and
matter in question
from the monitoring
process, so that
no conflict is deemed to
The Monitor shall continue as Monitor, and
firm to withdraw from the
The Monitor shall continue as Monitor, and
obligate Mr. Hunt not to participate
the matter and to obtain new counsel
If in The Monitor's judgment it
is appropriate, the Monitor shall have the right to contact clerks of court,
judges, or opposing counsel to determine the accuracy of Mr. Hunt's reports
The Monitor shall have no contact
with any of Mr. Hunt's clients and her/his only contact in the performance
of the Monitor's duties shall be with Mr. Hunt or other persons contemplated
by this Order.
participation in the monitoring of Mr. Hunt's practice shall be deemed not
to create an attorney-client relationship between the Monitor and Mr. Hunt
or between the Monitor and Mr. Hunt's clients;
The Monitor shall file a confidential report with
the Court on or before July 1, 2002, and quarterly thereafter or sooner
if the Monitor deems it necessary, with copies to Mr. Hunt and Bar Counsel
concerning any professional assistance the Monitor has provided to Mr. Hunt;
The Monitor will have the duty to
report to Bar Counsel and to the Court any apparent or actual professional
misconduct by Mr. Hunt of which the Monitor becomes aware or any lack of
cooperation by Mr. Hunt in the performance of this Order;
In the event a grievance complaint
is received by Bar Counsel concerning alleged misconduct by Mr. Hunt occurring
on this date or thereafter, such complaint shall be processed under either
Bar Rule 7.1(c) or 7.1(d), as appropriate. In the event a preliminary review
panel finds probable cause of misconduct under Bar Rule 7.1(d)(5), the matter
shall then be filed directly before this Court under Bar Rule 7.2(b);
12. Any apparent
violation of the conditions of this Order by Mr. Hunt shall be filed by
Bar Counsel directly with the Court;
On or before July 10, 2002, Mr. Hunt shall refund
$125.00 to Kathleen Mundell, in care of Bar Counsel, via
certified bank check or money order;
14. On or before June 10, 2002, Mr. Hunt
and make an appointment to be evaluated by Dr. Stanley
Evans, or by an alternate addictionologist acceptable to
Bar Counsel; and
Mr. Hunt shall follow strict compliance
with all aftercare requirements and recommendations that may be made for
him by Dr. Evans or other addictionologist(s) as a result of that initial
or any later evaluation(s).
Dated: May 14, 2002
Howard H. Dana, Jr.