AUGUSTA, Maine — An Island Falls lawyer will be suspended from the practice of law for 30 days beginning Thursday, April 1, the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar has announced.
Patrick E. Hunt, who has been a lawyer for 27 years, was suspended for six months with all but 30 days suspended for his violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility all lawyers licensed to practice in Maine must follow. Hunt’s suspension was announced Thursday, March 25, in a press release issued by the Board of Overseers.
Hunt’s misconduct included failing to exercise reasonable care and skill by not properly preparing a complaint, not taking the necessary steps to amicably resolve a pending legal matter where all parties agreed to a final resolution, and waiting too long to resolve a pending matter, according to information released by the Board of Overseers.
Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Joseph Jabar found that Hunt’s violations were “in the nature of negligence rather than intentional conduct.”
In addition to the suspension, Hunt must be monitored by another attorney for a year and take two continuing legal education courses dealing with litigation and probate matters. He also was ordered to pay two-thirds of the expenses associated with the case, a total of $3,619.
The legal matter that led to Hunt’s suspension dates back to 2000, when the then-Maine Department of Human Services referred to Hunt a case involving the estate of a woman who died in 1996. The department had a lien against the woman’s estate for $124,603 for “funds expended on her behalf prior to her death,” according to court documents.
Efforts to settle whether DHS or the woman’s heirs had claim to U.S. Savings Bonds with a face value of $5,200 dragged on until at least 2006, according to court documents.
Documents released by the Board of Overseers do not state exactly when or by whom the complaint against Hunt was filed, although a docket number indicates it was filed last year. The information released also did not explain why the complainant waited so long to bring the matter to the board’s attention.
The Board of Overseers was created by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in 1978 to govern the conduct of lawyers as officers of the court. The board regulates the conduct of lawyers by enforcing the Maine Bar Rules adopted by the state supreme court.
For information about the Board of Overseers of the Bar, call 623-1121 or visit www.mebaroverseers.org.