A suspended Rumford attorney who’s seeking reinstatement and hopes to win a bid for district attorney said Thursday that he should be allowed to practice law again so he can “fight for the little guy.”

Seth Carey appears by videoconference this week before the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar Grievance Commission for reinstatement of his law license. Screenshot from video

Seth T. Carey, 47, spoke to the Grievance Commission of the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar on the final day of a three-day hearing by videoconference on his petition for reinstatement.  He said he had “met all those criteria” required in Bar rules for license reinstatement.

In December 2018, Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren suspended Carey’s law license for three years, ordering that he meet a host of conditions before he is allowed to practice law again in Maine.

In his closing argument, Carey told the commission he was “fighting for my legal life or career.”

He said he has struggled since his suspension to earn a living, working for a time as a server at a ski resort until he lost that job because of the pandemic.

Carey’s Rumford home burned, adding stress to his economic hardship, he said.


He wrote in his reinstatement petition that his competency as an attorney should be judged, in part, by his performance in his representation of himself during the hearing before the commission, since he’s been unable to practice law for the past three years.

But in his closing argument Thursday, he conceded he likely fell short of his expectations.

“It’s unfortunate that the presentation couldn’t be better and more well-received,” he said.

Carey admitted to having continued to commit errors in legal and procedural filings since his suspension for which he would be judged by the commission.

“It’s too bad that I’ve continued to make the mistakes I made in the past,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity and all the time I’ve had to reflect on the things I’ve done wrong, in my misdeeds and  misjudgments and then continue to make them here today.”

Carey became emotional several times during the three-day hearing, often dabbing at his eyes with a tissue and, on a couple of occasions, needing to take a break to regain his composure.


“I think there’s room for that in the profession,” he said. “I think there’s room for that in the community and in the world. Someone with a heart, someone that does get emotional at the appropriate time, not to say that this is ever appropriate, but it’s just, you see, the real me. This isn’t contrived.”

He said he had never shown that level of emotion while representing a client in the courtroom.

Carey’s mental health was a point of concern in Justice Warren’s 2018 order, where he cited a diagnosis of personality disorder by a doctor of psychology. Warren said Carey would need to show that disability “has been removed.”

Since 2020, Carey has engaged in weekly therapy with a licensed clinical counselor and he has been seen 17 times by a psychiatrist, who has prescribed medication for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

Carey conceded in his closing argument that his emotional display during a proceeding in front of the grievance panel was not “a good thing because it’s been pointed out that my emotions appear to be a mental health concern or sign of weakness or sign of unprofessionalness.”

Assistant Bar Counsel Alan P. Kelley told the commission in his closing argument Thursday that Carey had “failed to meet the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence” that he has met the terms required for reinstatement of his law license under the Maine Bar rules.


Over his less than 12 years as a practicing attorney in Maine, the courts have issued five disciplinary suspensions for Carey, Kelley said.

“The board’s obligation is to ensure that attorneys that are seeking readmission to the bar have the qualities of competence of honesty and integrity so that they can serve the public,” Kelley said.

“Mr. Carey told you that he has spent four years focused on getting back to where he was and I think that’s an important statement because, in many respects, that reveals part of the problem for Mr. Carey’s reinstatement because what he needed to spend the last four years doing was not getting back to where he was, but getting better and addressing the problems that led him to the situation that he found himself in four years ago,” he said.

Carey failed to abide by the conditions in Warren’s order, Kelley said, highlighting those failures one by one.

Warren ordered Carey not to work as a paralegal for his father, Thomas Carey.

Seth Carey was required to present any complaints to a judge to screen as potentially frivolous or vexatious before serving defendants with those complaints.


He violated that provision by filing a lawsuit against the Secretary of State’s Office over his candidacy for district attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, Kelley said.

Carey drafted complaints, or part of them, and had his father sign them as the licensed attorney in violation of Warren’s order, Kelley said.

Justice Warren’s order required Carey to seek psychotherapy by a psychologist for the treatment of personality disorder and that the 2018 report of that diagnosis by a doctor of psychology be given to the treating therapists, Kelley said.

“Mr. Carey did not provide those reports,” Kelley said.

Rather than seeking counseling immediately after his suspension, Carey waited nearly two years before he began seeing professionals to address his mental health problems, Kelley said.

Since 2020, Carey’ has been treated for ADHD, not personality disorder, by a psychiatrist and a therapist, who testified earlier at the hearing, Kelley said.


“Even if Carey undergoes a lengthy course of psychotherapy, he will not necessarily have overcome his propensity to engage in behavior that negatively affects his ability to practice law,” Warren wrote in his order.

“The board believes the evidence has shown that Mr. Carey, despite seeking treatment, has not overcome that personality disorder or his attention deficit disorder,” Kelley said.

He pointed to the testimony on Thursday of Carey’s therapist, who agreed that emails and other communications by Carey in recent months to legal professionals, displayed symptoms of impulsivity and bullying, traits consistent with personality disorder, as well as other disorders.

Warren ruled in his 2018 order that Carey had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by running for the office of district attorney, a ruling later upheld by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

“Justice Warren found that by running for (district attorney) Mr. Carey was implicitly been representing to the public that he was an attorney capable of holding the office,” Kelley said.

Carey was charged criminally for practicing law without a license, but the case was resolved and he was not convicted.


By running for that political office again, Carey has not proved he hasn’t engaged in unauthorized practice of law.

Carey testified during the hearing that he hadn’t told all of the people who signed his petition to be on the ballot for district attorney that he was not a licensed attorney in Maine.

“Mr. Carey continues to have a lack of recognition of appreciation for the wrongfulness and seriousness of his misconduct,” Kelley said. “That was at the heart of Justice Warren’s decision.”

Warren ruled in his order that Carey had sexually abused a woman with whom he’d had a relationship and who became a tenant at his Rumford home.

Carey faces six criminal charges in Oxford County Superior Court in South Paris stemming from incidents at his home in 2018 involving that former tenant.

Two of the charges are felonies, one of which carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison.


Carey was indicted last year by an Oxford County grand jury on misdemeanor charges of unlawful sexual contact, two counts of domestic violence assault and engaging in prostitution, in addition to two felony charges — attempted gross sexual assault and attempted aggravated sex trafficking.

Those charges are pending trial.

“Mr. Carey has continued in his filings and in his communications in this case to blame and make allegations against the complainant in the underlying suspension,” Kelley said.

Carey has said his conduct had been unprofessional, but not serious and that his mistake and regret stems from his having gotten involved with that victim.

“Warren found Mr. Carey’s misconduct to be particularly serious, very, very serious and Mr. Carey’s statement that the court did not find it to be serious is indicative of his lack of appreciation for the seriousness and wrongfulness of his misconduct,” Kelley said.

Carey also was cited by Warren for witness tampering for having offered a financial inducement to the victim through her lawyer. He has said he simply wanted the victim to “tell the truth” and thought his offer was lawful.

While Carey had written in a sworn statement that he had completed all of the continuing legal education requirements ordered by Warren, he admitted Thursday that he had not fulfilled that requirement.

The commission will deliberate before arriving at a recommendation whether Carey’s law license should be reinstated and file a report with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court for a decision.

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