Waterville lawyer suspended for 6 months over handling of text messages in divorce case

Posted Feb. 04, 2014, at 5:10 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 04, 2014, at 8:17 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Waterville lawyer was suspended Monday from practicing law for six months, according to the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar.

The suspension of Charles T. Ferris is effective March 3. He has practiced in Maine since passing the bar exam in 1992.

Ferris also must cooperate with the counsel for the Board of Overseers in an audit of his office files, computers and phones. To be reinstated, Ferris must complete the suspension and purge files of and turn over text messages he improperly accessed.

Complaints against Ferris were lodged in March 2012 by two fellow lawyers, the decision ordering the suspension said. They centered on his use of a subpoena to access more than 50,000 text messages from U.S. Cellular in a divorce action in which he represented the husband, against whom a protection from abuse order had been issued.

Ferris did not notify opposing counsel that he had sought the information as required. He also allowed his client to obtain information about text messages sent and received on his estranged wife’s phone from the cellphone provider.

A hearing before Superior Court Justice Donald Alexander was held last month in Waterville District Court. The judge found that Ferris’ violations of the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct, particularly with regard to their impact on opposing parties and third parties in litigation, were many and significant, according to the Board of Overseers.

The Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar was created by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in 1978 to govern the conduct of lawyers as officers of the Court.

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