PORTLAND — A Rumford lawyer who was placed on probation for two years for failing to properly discharge his professional duties is appealing that sanction to the state’s highest court.

Seth Carey claims he is being singled out because of his outspoken nature.

“I have essentially been railroaded for a decade since I started practicing by a few biased, opposing lawyers trying to gain an advantage in a hard-fought case, or calling a lawyer or judge out for abusing their power or exploiting innocent victims,” he told the Sun Journal by email Thursday.

He singled out judges from the Lewiston area for harsh criticism: “Only this particular Lewiston-based small group of jurists in my experience would act this way or use these scorched-earth tactics, as we demand and expect judges to be held in the highest regard and garner the highest level of respect for their learned and judicious behavior.”

Carey’s petition filed with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court seeks to modify a January order of discipline reached by a panel of the grievance commission at the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar. He is seeking to lessen a two-year probation to an admonition, or warning.

In 2014, a court magistrate filed a complaint about Carey with the Overseers of the Bar. That complaint resulted in a series of hearings last fall, after which the grievance panel ordered Carey to turn over his current caseload to other lawyers and to not undertake any new litigation cases for two years.

The panel also ordered Carey to undergo psychological counseling and enroll in continuing legal education classes.


The panel wrote that it was concerned about Carey’s competency in the courtroom after hearing testimony from several judges.

In his Feb. 22 petition to the Supreme Court, Carey wrote that he had volunteered to take additional classes and continue to seek psychological counseling for stress caused by the panel’s disciplinary actions and to learn how to cope with “personality conflicts and anything else that triggered (his) involvement in this matter.”

He suggested that the panel appoint as his mentor for a two-year period Oxford County defense attorney Margot Joly.

He objects to the requirement that he stop litigation, writing in his petition that his law practice is “exclusively litigation,” and arguing that the “panel seemed not to realize the ramifications of its de facto suspension as it mistakenly stated in its order that (Carey) could focus on the non-litigation portion of his practice.”

In his petition, Carey wrote that he has never executed a real estate or land transaction, not even in a supportive role, and has only drafted a single will since passing the Maine Bar in 2006.

Carey referred to the panel’s order to refrain from representing clients in litigation as a “troubling and damaging error” and wrote that the panel’s order would result in his “law practice and reputation being essentially destroyed beyond repair.”


Carey wrote in his petition that the petitioner for the Board of Overseers of the Bar failed to prove that any of the misconduct on Carey’s part was “significant and/or harmful” to a level that would merit probation.

The panel’s demand that Carey repay the Bar more than $4,000 in costs related to its investigation and processing of his disciplinary matter ignores his inability to pay when effectively barred from practicing law as he has been, he wrote.

Carey has been suspended twice after the bar received complaints from lawyers and judges. He was last reinstated in 2010 following a suspension on complaints of ethical and competency lapses.

He pointed out in his petition that no client had ever filed a Bar complaint against him nor alleged ineffective assistance of counsel.

Carey moved to Florida in 2009 and lived there until 2013.

In his petition, he suggested that he was “rust(y)” from a four- to five-year hiatus from “domestic relations” law in his practice after returning to Maine from Florida.


Carey questioned in his petition why the panel saw fit to bar him from engaging in all litigation for two years when witnesses testified that he was “competent and effective” in certain areas of litigation. He also wondered whether any of the panelists had listened to audio recordings of trials and hearings that he had provided.

If the court were to decline to amend the panel’s probation order, Carey would seek to resume the disciplinary hearing before the same grievance commission panel or a different one so that he could present his defense.

In addition to dropping litigation, the grievance commission’s probation order bans Carey from filing any legal documents in any court on behalf of any client other than himself for the next year and a half, and instructs him not to accept any new cases that may involve litigation until the probation is complete.

He must also participate in at least four trial practice-oriented continuing legal education classes, and begin psychological counseling within a month of the Feb. 5 probation order.

Two of the three panel members supported the imposed sanction; the commission’s chairman dissented, finding “Attorney Carey’s incompetence is of such depth to justify further discipline,” preferring that the matter be turned over to a single justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court for further consideration.

In his dissent, Chairman Peter Fessenden said his chief concerns were Carey’s “insulting and ineffective ad hominem attacks on witnesses that persisted despite repeated rulings from the chair that they had no relevance to the issues presented in this case,” and “a steady flow of bizarre pleadings and pretrial motions that betrayed a profound disregard of due process and applicable procedures under the Maine Bar Rules.”


In his communication with the Sun Journal on Thursday, Carey took issue with the newspaper’s reporting of his history with the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar.

“While I have ignored the half-truths and outright falsities that have appeared in this paper in the past, I can no longer simply stand idly by while only one side of the story, a biased and self-serving one, is told,” he said.

“I am proud to be the advocate always for the victim and the underdog. If we don’t stand for something, we risk falling for anything. The people who know me know what kind of person I am.”

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