JOSEPH L. RICHARD
SECRETARY OF STATE
Argued: July 19, 2018
W. Dean, Esq. (orally), Portland, for appellant Joseph L.
T. Mills, Attorney General, and Donald W. Macomber, Asst.
Atty. Gen. (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta,
for appellee State of Maine
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
l] Joseph L. Richard appeals from a judgment of the Superior
Court (Oxford County, Clifford, /.) affirming the
decision of the Secretary of State to impose a three-year
administrative suspension of Richard's driver's
license because of a fatal accident that he caused in 2014.
See 5 M.R.S. § 11008 (2017); 29-A M.R.S. §
2458(2-A) (2017); M.R. Civ. P. 8OC. Richard challenges (1)
the court's determination that, as a matter of law, 29-A
M.R.S. § 2458(2-A) is not punitive or criminal in nature
and therefore does not require a higher standard of proof,
and (2) the determination of the Secretary of State's
Hearing Examiner that Richard's operation at the time of
the accident was negligent. We affirm the judgment.
The following undisputed facts are taken from the Secretary
of State's decision, including the Hearing Examiner's
findings, and the procedural facts are drawn from the
Superior Court's record. See Manirakiza v. Dep't
of Health & Human Servs., 2018 ME 10, ¶ 2, 177
On July 15, 2014, Richard was driving on a street in Brewer
when his vehicle crossed the center line and collided with an
oncoming vehicle. Two of the three passengers in his vehicle
died as a result of the injuries that they sustained in the
The Secretary of State sent Richard a notice of suspension on
May 13, 2016, advising him that, in accordance with 29-A
M.R.S. § 2458(2-A), his license to operate a motor
vehicle would be suspended for a period of three years,
effective May 27, 2016. Richard requested a hearing to review
the suspension, and the hearing was held before a Hearing
Examiner on August 15, 2016.
At the hearing, Richard testified that he did not remember
the crash, but he asserted that a cardiac event had caused
him to lose consciousness. The Hearing Examiner found that
there was insufficient evidence in the record to support that
theory because "[h]is physician [was] only able to
speculate that a connection between the accident and Mr.
Richard's cardiac condition [was] possible. And the
hospital records indicate Mr. Richard experienced atrial
fibrillation one week after the accident, with no
known prior history of such an event."
In a decision dated September 7, 2016, the Hearing Examiner
upheld the Secretary of State's three-year suspension of
Richard's driver's license. The Hearing Examiner
found and concluded that Richard negligently operated a motor
vehicle when he fell asleep while driving and swerved into
oncoming traffic, and determined that Richard's negligent
operation of the motor vehicle caused the deaths of two other
people. The Hearing Examiner explained that "[o]ne of
the most basic and critical requirements placed on all
drivers is to maintain control of the motor vehicle at all
times. No external interference caused Mr. Richard to leave
his travel lane. As he admitted to [the detective] just hours
after the crash, he recognized that he was feeling tired as
he drove but elected to keep driving until he reached a truck
stop. That decision unfortunately had terrible
On October 27, 2016, Richard petitioned the Superior Court
for judicial review of final agency action pursuant to 5
M.R.S. § 11001(1) (2017) and M.R. Civ. P.
After holding oral argument, the court affirmed the Secretary
of State's decision in an order dated September 26, 2017.
Richard filed a motion for reconsideration, which ...