Submitted On Briefs: July 18, 2019
T. Carey, appellant pro se
Eee, Esq., Board of Overseers of the Bar, Augusta, for
appellee Board of Overseers of the Bar
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.
In November of 2016, Seth T. Carey-an attorney admitted to
the Maine Bar-consented to the entry of a disciplinary order
[Brennan, J.). The order established that Carey had
committed multiple violations of the Maine Rules of
Professional Conduct, which prescribe ethical standards for
lawyers, and imposed a two-year suspension of Carey's law
license-a suspension that was itself suspended contingent on
Carey's compliance with nearly thirty specific
conditions. In April of 2018, in response to an
"expedited petition" filed by the Board of
Overseers of the Bar to activate the suspended portion of
Carey's suspension, a single justice [Warren,
J.) suspended Carey's law license, effective
immediately and pending a full hearing, after making an
initial finding that Carey had engaged in conduct that led to
the issuance of a protection order against him. See
M. Bar R. 24(a)-(b). The Board later filed a new disciplinary
information against Carey, alleging that he had committed
other violations of the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct.
See M. Bar R. 13(g)(1).
In September of 2018, following a three-day hearing on the
pending matters, the single justice entered an order finding
that Carey had, on numerous occasions, engaged in criminal
conduct and violated court orders, all in contravention of
the Rules. After holding a sanctions hearing several months
later, the single justice entered an order suspending
Carey's license to practice law for three years,
see M. Bar R. 13(g)(4), 21(a)(1), (a)(3), (b)(6),
with certain conditions to be satisfied while the suspension
is in effect. Carey appealed to us, see M. Bar R.
13(g)(4), and we affirm the judgment.
The following facts are drawn from the findings of the single
justice, all of which are supported by competent record
evidence, see Bd. of Overseers of the Bar v.
Prolman, 2018 ME 128, ¶ 2, 193 A.3d 808, and from
the procedural record.
Carey is no stranger to attorney disciplinary proceedings.
Since he was admitted to the Maine Bar in 2006, his license
to practice law in this State has been suspended no fewer
than three times-not including the most recent suspension
order-for violations of the rules of ethics governing
attorney conduct. In 2009, Carey was sanctioned for
misconduct twice. First, his license was suspended for six
months and one day after a single justice concluded that
Carey had, among other things, improperly communicated with
other lawyers' clients, demonstrated "a profound
lack of candor and a clear willingness to mislead [Bar
Counsel] and the [Grievance Panel]," and exhibited
"a lack of fundamental skills, competencies, and
preparation in trial work in general, and criminal defense in
particular"-all in violation of the Maine Bar
Rules. Bd. of Overseers of the Bar v.
Carey, BAR-08-04, at 6-7 (Feb. 12, 2009) (Mead, J.). The
single justice also noted that Carey's testimony at the
disciplinary hearing was "evasive, combative, and
accusatory." Id. at 5.
Later in 2009, Carey was sanctioned for other misconduct he
had committed while the earlier disciplinary action was
pending. Bd. of Overseers of the Bar v.
Carey, BAR-08-10 (Oct. 6, 2009) (Mead, J.). The second
order was entered by agreement on the basis of a complaint
made by an acquaintance of Carey that, during a visit to her
home, Carey became emotionally out of control and, among
other things, acted violently toward her puppy. Id.
at 1-3. Without admitting to all the conduct alleged in the
complaint, Carey agreed that "his conduct was unworthy
of an attorney in violation of then applicable M. Bar R.
3.1(a)," and the single justice imposed a sixty-day
suspension of Carey's license to practice, to run
concurrently with the earlier suspension. Id. at
That brings us to the first of the two proceedings directly
at issue here. In November of 2016, a single justice entered
an agreed-to order finding that, over the course of several
years, Carey had violated the Maine Rules of Professional
Conduct in several respects. Bd. of Overseers of the Bar
v. Carey, BAR-16-15, at 1-8 (Nov. 21, 2016) (Brennan,
J.). First, based on a grievance complaint filed against
Carey by a judicial officer, the single justice found that
Carey had "failed to follow applicable rules, procedures
and directives issued by the trial courts," thereby
demonstrating, among other things, a lack of core competence
and violations of numerous Rules of Professional Conduct:
Rule 1.1 (competence); Rule 1.3 (diligence); Rules 3.3(a)(3)
and 3.3(b) (candor toward the tribunal); and Rules 8.4(a)
and 8.4(d) (misconduct). Id. at 3. Second, the single
justice found that Carey had engaged in professional
misconduct during a workers' compensation proceeding and
again violated rules pertaining to basic attorney competence
and diligence. Id. at 6; see M.R. Prof.
Conduct 1.1, 1.3; see also supra nn.3-4. Finally,
the single justice determined that Carey had failed to abide
by the rules governing client trust accounts (IOLTA), which
the single justice found particularly troubling because,
"as an attorney licensed for more than ten years,
Attorney Carey knew or should have known that he could not
commingle funds or draw upon his IOLTA account for personal
and other non-client expenses." Bd. of Overseers of
the Bar v. Carey, BAR-16-15, at 8 (Nov. 21, 2016).
Although not explicitly finding that Carey had violated the
rules governing the management of client trust accounts, the
single justice determined that Carey's conduct had, once
again, demonstrated his incompetence as an attorney in
violation of Rule 1.1, see supra n.3. Bd. of
Overseers of the Bar v. Carey, BAR-16-15, at 8 (Nov. 21,
Based on these violations, committed against the backdrop of
a history of serious and repeated misconduct, the single
justice entered an order suspending Carey's license to
practice for two years. Id. at 8-9. That suspension,
however, was itself suspended so that Carey could continue to
practice law subject to twenty-eight conditions. Id.
at 9-17. In pertinent part, the conditions required Carey to
commence treatment with a psychiatrist and "follow
the recommendations of the psychiatrist and any other
treatment providers he may subsequently be referred to,"
and to "refrain from all criminal conduct."
Id. at 14-15.
In April of 2018, while Carey was still subject to the
conditions established in the 2016 order, the Board learned
that he had engaged in conduct that resulted in an order for
protection from abuse being entered against him the previous
month by the District Court (Rumford, Mulhern,
J.). The Board petitioned the court to
immediately activate the 2016 suspension of his license.
Later that month, after holding a hearing, the single justice
[Warren, J.) entered an order suspending Carey's
license pending the final resolution of the case based in
part on a preliminary finding that Carey had engaged in
criminal activity, namely, unlawful sexual contact and
assault. See M. Bar R. 24(b).
After further investigation, the Board discovered other
potential criminal conduct and violations of the Rules, as
well as additional instances of Carey's noncompliance
both with the conditions of the 2016 order and with the
single justice's April 2018 order of interim suspension.
The Board subsequently filed a separate disciplinary
information, later amended twice, framed in five counts: a
claim based on Carey's conduct that resulted in the
protection order and Carey's subsequent attempt to induce
the protected person to recant (Count 1); a grievance
complaint filed against Carey by a former client (Count
2); a claim that Carey violated the
court's April 2018 order of interim suspension (Counts 3
and 5); and a claim that Carey violated conditions of the
November 2016 order (Count 4).
After holding a three-day hearing on the Board's
disciplinary information in August of 2018, the single
justice entered an order determining, by a preponderance of
the evidence, see M. Bar R. 14(b)(4), that Carey had
violated the Rules of Professional in Conduct in the
Criminal or Unlawful Conduct (Count 1)
In the spring of 2017, Carey rented a room in his house to a
woman whom he had met years before when she was a client of
his father, who is also an attorney. While the woman lived in
his house, Carey propositioned her for sex a number of times,
but each time the woman declined, at one point telling him
that his repeated advances were offensive.
After moving out of Carey's house in late 2017, the woman
lived with her boyfriend, but that relationship became
abusive, and the woman returned to Carey's home. Carey
agreed that she could stay in his home without paying rent in
exchange for cleaning and doing other work around the house,
but as part of the arrangement he expected the woman to have
sex with him, and he continued to ask her to do so. Having
just left an abusive relationship, the woman was dependent on
Carey for housing, so despite Carey's unwelcome advances,
she had little choice but to stay there.
While the woman lived in Carey's house during both
periods, Carey made unwanted physical advances toward her a
number of times, including one time when he entered her
bedroom at night and touched her legs and between her thighs,
and another time when he stepped in front of her while she
sat on the couch, pulled her head against his crotch, and in
crude terms asked her to perform oral sex on him. Each time,
the woman rebuffed Carey.
In March of 2018, Carey evicted the woman from his house,
admitting in a text message that he was doing so in part
because she would not have sex with him. Following her
eviction, based on Carey's unwanted physical advances
while living in the home, the woman filed a complaint for
protection from abuse. After a lengthy trial held that same
month, the District Court [Mulhern, J.) issued an
order of protection against Carey.
Based on the evidence presented during this disciplinary
proceeding, the single justice determined that Carey's
conduct toward the woman "would constitute criminal or
unlawful conduct that would qualify as unlawful sexual
touching and domestic assault under 17-A M.R.S. §§
26O(1)(A), 25l(1)(G), and 207-A(1)(A) [(2018)]" and
"reflects adversely on Carey's trustworthiness and
fitness as a lawyer." The single justice concluded that
Carey's conduct constituted a violation of Maine Rule of
Professional Conduct 8.4(b).
There is more. Carey had appealed the protection
order. While the appeal was pending, Carey met
with counsel for the woman and, in what Carey later described
as an offer of "settlement," provided the attorney
with a number of documents he had drafted. One of the
documents contained a statement that the woman would sign and
submit to the single justice in this matter and to the Board,
stating that "things have been blown out of proportion
and Seth Carey did not abuse me." Another document
drafted by Carey was an agreement that would require the
woman to file a motion in the disciplinary proceeding to
"vacate the prosecution" of Carey. That agreement
would also require the woman to file a motion to vacate the
findings of abuse made by the District Court in the
protection proceeding, and it provided that once the
protection order was vacated, Carey would convey title to his
car to the woman. Pursuant to the proposed agreement, if
Carey's law license were reinstated by October 1, 2018,
Carey would pay the woman ...