SETH T. CAREY
MAINE BOARD OF OVERSEERS OF THE BAR et al.
Argued: February 14, 2018
T. Mills, Attorney General, and Susan P. Herman, Dep. Atty.
Gen. (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for
appellants Judge Maria Woodman and Judge Nancy Carlson
T. Carey (orally), appellee pro se Kennebec County Superior
Court docket number CV-2017-17 For Clerk Reference Only
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.
Judge Maria Woodman and Judge Nancy Carlson (collectively,
the judges) appeal from an order of the Superior Court
(Kennebec County, Anderson, J.) denying their motion
to seal or strike portions of Seth T. Carey's response to
their motion to dismiss his complaint. We dismiss the appeal
because it is interlocutory and does not fall within any
exception to the final judgment rule.
The following facts are drawn from the procedural history.
See Schulz v. Doeppe, 2018 ME 49, ¶ 3, - A.3d
-. Carey is a lawyer and is the respondent in an attorney
discipline proceeding. In November of 2016, pursuant to the
agreement of Bar Counsel and Carey himself, a single justice
found that Carey had violated provisions of the Maine Rules
of Professional Conduct and suspended Carey from practicing
law in Maine for two years but suspended the suspension
subject to Carey's compliance with numerous conditions.
Bd. of Overseers of the Bar v. Carey, BAR-16-15
(Nov. 21, 2016) (Brennan, J.). Although Carey agreed to that
disciplinary order, in early 2017 he filed a lengthy,
multicount complaint, which he later amended, against
numerous entities and individuals-including the judges-based
on their actions and involvement in the disciplinary
In February of 2017, all of the defendants, in two groups,
filed separate motions to dismiss Carey's amended
complaint and sought imposition of sanctions. Carey filed a
single response to the motions on March 6, 2017. Three days
later, on March 9, the judges filed a motion to seal or,
pursuant to Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), strike
certain paragraphs of Carey's response in which he made
assertions about the judges and a family member of one of
them. In their motion, the judges stated that the assertions
were both personal and extrinsic to Carey's complaint and
therefore could not be properly considered in connection with
the motion to dismiss the complaint.
In an order issued on September 1, 2017, the court denied the
judges' motion to seal or strike. The court concluded
that the material could not be stricken pursuant to Rule
12(f) because that Rule applies only to a "pleading,
" which does not encompass an opposition to a motion to
dismiss a complaint, and because the judges "provided no
authority" for sealing the paragraphs. The September 1
order did not dispose of the motions to dismiss the
complaint, and so the case remained pending in the trial
On September 21-twenty days after the court issued its order-
the judges filed a notice of appeal from the court's
denial of their motion to seal or strike. See M.R.
App. P. 2A, 2B(c). Because the case was still pending in the
trial court, we issued an order on October 12 requiring the
judges to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed
as interlocutory. On October 16, in response to the show
cause order, the judges filed a memorandum, to which they
attached a copy of Carey's response to the motion to
dismiss filed in the trial court, which included the material
at issue here, in order to provide context for their
contention that the appeal should not be dismissed. The
judges also moved to seal the pertinent portion of
Carey's filing that they had attached to their
memorandum. One week later, on October 23, we issued an order
permitting the appeal to proceed because it arguably fell
within an exception to the final judgment rule but reserved
to the parties the opportunity to argue the final judgment
issue along with the merits. In that order, we also ordered
that the attachment be impounded pending further order of the
Before it would be proper for us to address the merits of
this interlocutory appeal, we must first address whether it
falls within an exception to the final judgment rule.
A court order that does not result in a final judgment is
interlocutory, and any appeal of such an order is ordinarily
barred by the final judgment rule. Fiber Materials, Inc.
v. Subilia,2009 ME 71, ¶ 12, 974 A.2d 918;
Estate of Kingsbury,2008 ME 79, ¶ 4, 946 A.2d
389. There are several exceptions to the final judgment rule
that would allow interlocutory appellate review. Davis v.
Anderson,2008 ME 125, ¶ 9, 953 A.2d 1166. One is
the death knell exception, which allows an appeal from an
interlocutory order "when substantial rights of a party
will be irreparably lost if review is delayed until final
judgment." Kingsbury,2008 ME 79, ¶ 5, 946
A.2d 389 (quotation marks omitted). In other words, appellate
intervention is warranted even when the case has not