Slogans can be a powerful tool for communicating, but they’re a poor substitute for thinking. Those Republicans who wasted their primary vote on Seth T. Carey, GOP candidate for district attorney of Prosecutorial District Number 3 (Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties), might want to ruminate on whether they made a wise choice by voting for what was, in effect, a campaign slogan.

In an imaginary chest bump with President Donald Trump, Carey prominently featured the slogan “Build.That.Wall” on his primary campaign signage, and the tactic worked.

If successful in the November general election, however, Carey is unlikely to be prosecuting any criminals, let alone building walls (unless he finds work as a mason). That’s because a DA is required to be a licensed Maine attorney. Carey, who’s been under interim license suspension since April 30, pending final disciplinary hearing, was recently adjudicated to have violated Maine bar rules, and it appears likely he’s headed towards a long suspension or permanent disbarment.

In an 18-page decision on September 21, Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren found that Carey had engaged in conduct which reflected adversely on his “trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer.” Warren’s findings related primarily to charges that Carey had engaged in unlawful sexual contact with, and assault against, a woman who rented a room in his Rumford home, and that he continued practicing law and holding himself out as an attorney while his license was suspended on an interim basis.

Though Warren has yet to decide what sanction to impose on Carey, the seriousness of the violations and the fact that he’s been suspended from practice on three prior occasions (not counting the interim suspension) suggests to me the penalty will be far more severe than a slap on the wrist.

Carey had little to commend him as a prosecutorial candidate when he ran in the June 12 primaries. Yet he outpolled his GOP rival, Alexander Willette by 2,230 votes or almost 60 percent. Willette, a former state legislator and minority leader, who had experience as an assistant district attorney and a JAG officer, could have been a credible opponent to incumbent DA Andrew Robinson, a Democrat.


I doubt that that many voters cast their ballot for Carey based on his personal popularity. He was soundly beaten, 57-246, in the town of Rumford, where he was born, raised, and practiced law most of his career, and where he was presumably best known. Ditto for the neighboring town of Mexico, where Carey lost 31-53.

Nor is it likely he was elected for his record of professional achievement. Indeed, his career path is strewn with egregious examples of incompetence and misconduct, as decisions posted on the Maine Board of Bar Overseers website relate in detail. (I discussed these in my June 3 column, and they were widely reported in the media at the time they occurred).

In addition, Carey has filed several whacky lawsuits that could rival the story line of “My Cousin Vinny.” These suits appear to feed Carey’s self-image as a tireless champion of the underdog or his delusion that he is a victim of nefarious conspiracies.

In a 2016 case, which was summarily dismissed by a federal District Court judge in Massachusetts, Carey sued, purportedly on behalf of all New England Patriot fans, claiming the National Football League, Commissioner Roger Goodell, and team owner Robert Kraft violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) by depriving the Patriots of two draft picks as punishment for the Deflategate scandal, thereby causing the team’s fans emotional distress. (RICO is a federal statute typically employed against organized criminal enterprises, not athletic leagues imposing disciplinary measures on teams or players for violating rules of the game).

The following year Carey launched an ultimately unsuccessful suit against numerous parties in state court, including the Maine Board of Bar Overseers, three state judges, the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services, and the Lewiston Sun Journal. In his 22-count complaint, he accused them, among other things, of defamation, invasion of privacy, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and RICO violations. The allegations related to the defendants’ involvement in and reporting of bar disciplinary proceedings that led to Carey’s November 2016 probationary license suspension.

In 2015, Carey sued Oxford Casino and two individuals, claiming they had invaded his privacy by tapping his phone. A Superior Court judge slam-dunked this complaint on summary judgment, stating that the plaintiffs had “presented nothing more than unsupported allegations” that Carey’s phone had been tapped.


All this leads me to believe that Carey was really elected for his embrace of a slogan. “Build That Wall,” Trump’s signature slogan, speaks powerfully to the discontent of lower-income, non-college educated, white, and often rural Americans who feel left behind by the global, hi-tech, automated economy of the 21st century. By attributing their plight to undocumented Latin American immigrants streaming across our porous southern border and blaming these immigrants for stealing jobs, murdering and raping, and vacuuming up tax-funded welfare benefits, Trump has created a vulnerable scapegoat. He has also offered a tantalizingly easy solution — the promise that he will build an impregnable physical barrier to stop them from crossing the Rio Grande.

I don’t mean to make light of illegal immigration. It’s a serious problem that cries out for comprehensive congressional reform. But any reform, however, effective, will hardly make a dent in the day-to-day problems of the millions of citizens who constitute Trump’s “base.” These folks need a path to the 21st century economy, not a rallying cry urging them back to a society that existed in the middle of the 20th.

And Maine’s Prosecutorial District 3 needs a professional, competent, ethical, licensed attorney who can get on with the business of administering criminal justice, not an unlicensed lawyer whose career lies in a smoldering ash heap of his own making.

Elliott Epstein is a trial lawyer with Andrucki & King in Lewiston. His Rearview Mirror column, which has appeared in the Sun Journal for 10 years, analyzes current events in an historical context. He is also the author of “Lucifer’s Child,” a book about the notorious 1984 child murder of Angela Palmer. He may be contacted at

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