A Brunswick lawyer was barred Tuesday from practicing law in Maine after repeated instances of professional misconduct.
Carolyn M. Asquith, who was admitted to the Maine Bar in 2003 and practiced alone in Topsham, was suspended for four years by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. If she complies with the conditions of the order and doesn’t violate any other Maine State Bar Association rules, one year of that suspension will be dropped, according to an order issued by Justice Jon Levy.
In July 2014, Asquith can petition the court to dismiss part or all of her suspension.
Meanwhile, she is barred from providing any legal services as an attorney, but could work as a paralegal or in a law office in a non-attorney capacity, according to Levy’s order.
Before being reinstated, she’ll have to comply with a dozen conditions, including paying any outstanding debts to former clients, being evaluated by a clinician, getting written approval by a doctor that her depression doesn’t impair her ability to work as an attorney and allowing her practice to be monitored financially and otherwise.
A final hearing was held in mid-December to address the Board of Overseers of the Bar’s temporary disciplinary action against her stemming from separate complaints by unrelated parties.
Bar attorney Scott Davis sought Asquith’s immediate suspension in May after receiving the complaints, but no response from Asquith.
In July, the court issued the temporary suspension of Asquith from practicing law in Maine. Her clients were referred to a Bath attorney.
During the time leading up to Asquith’s suspension, “the facts of her serious misconduct clearly confirm that Asquith failed to adequately perform legal work or to properly monitor her clients’ matters,” Justice Levy wrote in his order.
The complaints against her include a 2011 filing by District Court Judge Valerie Stanfill who wrote that Asquith failed to make required filings, comply with a court order and attend a required court conference after she was appointed guardian ad litem for a child.
Later that year, a couple filed petitions to dispute fees she charged them while they were her clients. She failed to appear at a hearing last year on the matter. A panel issued awards to the couple and directed Asquith to refund thousands of unearned dollars to her former clients. They were paid nearly a year later after the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection approved their claims and ordered payments to them, according to Levy’s order.
Lewiston lawyer Neil Shankman filed a complaint against Asquith in 2011 for her failure to comply with a court order in a pending family matter in which he represented an opposing party. She didn’t respond to his repeated requests that she comply with the court order nor did she answer a Maine Bar attorney who looked into the matter.
A woman who performed an “urgent” search request for Asquith at the Waldo County Registry of Deeds complained after Asquith failed to pay her bill for the service.
Asquith never responded to petitions by the Board of Overseers of the Bar about these complaints.
Last year, two more complaints were lodged against Asquith, one by a client who hired Asquith to represent her at a divorce hearing that she never attended and another by a man who took issue with her services and conduct as the parenting coordinator in a “high-conflict divorce.”
Also last year, a former client complained that Asquith failed to properly handle two court proceedings involving family matters concerning the former client’s children.