RULE 29. Reinstatement after Disciplinary Suspension for more than Six Months
(a) Generally. A lawyer suspended for more than six months or a disbarred lawyer may be reinstated only upon order of the Court. No suspended lawyer may petition for reinstatement until six months before the period of suspension is to expire. No disbarred lawyer may petition for reinstatement until five years after the effective date of disbarment unless otherwise provided by a Single Justice or the Court in its order of disbarment. A lawyer who has been placed on interim suspension and is then disbarred for the same misconduct that was the ground for the interim suspension may petition for reinstatement at the expiration of five years from the time of the effective date of interim suspension unless otherwise provided by a Single Justice or the Court in its order of disbarment.
(b) Petition. A petition for reinstatement must be under oath or affirmation under penalty of perjury and shall specify with particularity the manner in which the petitioner meets each of the criteria specified in Rule 29(e) or, if not, why there is good and sufficient reason for reinstatement.
(c) Service of Petition. The petition shall be filed with the Executive Clerk of the Court and also with Bar Counsel accompanied by a filing fee made payable to the Board of Overseers of the Bar and a completed Board Reinstatement Questionnaire.
(d) Publication of Notice of Petition. Upon a petitioner’s filing of a petition for reinstatement, the Board Clerk, shall publish a notice of the petition on the Board’s website. The notice shall inform members of the bar and the public about the application for reinstatement, and shall request that any individuals file notice of their opposition or support of the petition with the Board within 60 days. In addition, as appropriate, Bar Counsel may notify the complainant(s) in the disciplinary proceeding that led to the petitioner’s suspension or disbarment that the petitioner is applying for reinstatement, and shall inform each complainant that he or she has 60 days to file written notice of their opposition or to support the petition.
(e) Criteria for Reinstatement. A petitioner may be reinstated only if the petitioner meets each of the following criteria:
(1) the petitioner has fully complied with the terms and conditions of all prior disciplinary orders issued in Maine or in any other jurisdiction except to the extent they are abated under Rule 30, unless such suspension, disbarment, or discipline is solely the result of reciprocal action resulting from disciplinary action taken by Maine authorities;
(2) the petitioner has not engaged or attempted to engage in the unauthorized practice of law during the period of suspension or disbarment;
(3) if the petitioner was suffering under a physical or mental disability or infirmity at the time of suspension or disbarment, including alcohol or other drug abuse, the disability or infirmity has been removed. Where alcohol or other drug abuse was a causative factor in the petitioner’s misconduct, the petitioner shall not be reinstated unless:
(A) the petitioner has pursued appropriate rehabilitative treatment;
(B) the petitioner has abstained from the use of alcohol or other drugs for at least one year; and
(C) the petitioner is likely to continue to abstain from alcohol or other drugs;
(4) the petitioner recognizes the wrongfulness and seriousness of the misconduct for which the petitioner was suspended or disbarred;
(5) the petitioner has not engaged in any other professional misconduct since suspension or disbarment;
(6) notwithstanding the conduct for which the petitioner was disciplined, the petitioner has the requisite honesty and integrity to practice law;
(7) the petitioner has met the CLE requirements of Rule 5(a)(1) for each year the attorney has been suspended or disbarred, but need not complete more than 22 hours of approved credit hours for that entire period of absence from practice, provided that (i) no more than one half of the credit hours are earned through in-house courses, self study, or a combination thereof; and (ii) at least two credit hours are primarily concerned with the issues of professionalism as defined in Rule 5(a)(1); and
(8) In addition to all of the requirements in this provision, the attorney shall comply with Rule 4(a) and (b), and remit to the Board an arrearage registration payment equal to the total registration fee that the attorney would have been obligated to pay the Board under Rule 4(a) and (b) had the attorney remained actively registered to practice in Maine.
(f) Review of Petition. Within 60 days after receiving a petition for reinstatement, Bar Counsel shall either
(1) advise the petitioner, the Grievance Commission Chair and Vice Chair, and the Court that Bar Counsel will stipulate to the petitioner’s reinstatement, subject to the Court’s approval; or
(2) advise the petitioner, the Grievance Commission Chair, and the Court that Bar Counsel opposes reinstatement and requests a hearing.
(g) Hearing; Report. Upon receipt of Bar Counsel’s request for a hearing, the Board Clerk shall promptly refer the matter to a Grievance Commission panel. Within 90 days of the request, the Grievance Commission panel shall conduct a hearing at which the petitioner shall have the burden of demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence that he or she has met each of the criteria in Rule 29(e) or, if not, that there is good and sufficient reason why the petitioner should nevertheless be reinstated. The Grievance Commission panel shall file a report with the Board Clerk containing its findings and recommendations. The Board Clerk shall file the report with the Executive Clerk of the Law Court and transmit a copy thereof to Bar Counsel and the petitioner.
(h) Decision as to Reinstatement. The Court shall review the report filed by the Grievance Commission panel or any stipulation agreed to by the petitioner and Bar Counsel. If the petitioner or Bar Counsel objects to the panel's report, either party may file a pleading with the Court within 21 days stating the basis for its objection. The Court shall, with or without hearing issue its decision. (See Rule 14(b)(1-3)).
If the Court reinstates the petitioner, the Court shall issue a written opinion setting forth the grounds for its decision. If the Court denies reinstatement, the Court shall issue a written opinion setting forth the ground for its decision and shall identify the period after which the petitioner may reapply for reinstatement. Unless ordered otherwise by the Court, no petitioner may reapply for reinstatement within one year following an adverse judgment upon a petition for reinstatement.
(i) Conditions of Reinstatement. The Court may impose conditions on a petitioner’s reinstatement. The conditions shall be imposed in cases where the petitioner has met the burden of proof justifying reinstatement, but the Court reasonably believes that further precautions should be taken to protect the public. The Court may impose any conditions that are reasonably related to the grounds for the petitioner’s original suspension or disbarment, or to evidence presented at the hearing regarding the petitioner’s failure to meet the criteria for reinstatement. Passing the bar examination and the character and fitness examination shall be conditions to reinstatement following disbarment. The conditions may include, but are not limited to any of the following: (1) limitation upon practice to one area of law or through association with an experienced supervising lawyer; (2) participation in continuing legal education courses; (3) monitoring of the petitioner’s practice for compliance with trust account rules, account procedures, or office management procedures; (4) abstention from the use of drugs or alcohol; (5) active participation in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program; (6) active participation in mental health treatment; or (7) monitoring of the petitioner’s compliance with these conditions and any other orders. Should a monitor determine that the reinstated lawyer’s compliance with any condition of the reinstatement is unsatisfactory and that there exists a potential for harm to the public, the monitoring lawyer shall notify the Court and, where necessary to protect the public, the reinstated lawyer may be suspended from practice under Rule 21(b).
(j) Reciprocal Reinstatement. Where a Single Justice or the Court has imposed a suspension or disbarment solely on the basis of imposition of discipline in another jurisdiction, and where the petitioner gives notice to the Court that he or she has been reinstated or readmitted in the other jurisdiction, the Court shall determine whether the petitioner should be reinstated. Unless Bar Counsel shows good cause why the petitioner should not be reinstated, the Court shall reinstate a petitioner who has been reinstated or readmitted in the jurisdiction where the misconduct occurred.
Reporter’s Notes – June 2015
Rule 29(a) adopts the provisions of the Model Rule 25(A) and is substantially in accord with former Maine Bar Rule 7.3(j)(1) to (4). The revised rule does, however, permit suspended attorneys to petition for reinstatement six months prior to the conclusion of the period of suspension.
Rule 29(b) adopts the provisions of the Model Rule 25(B) and is substantially in accord with language contained in former Maine Bar Rule 7.3(j)(5).
Rule 29(c) adopts the provisions of the Model Rule 25(C) and is substantially in accord with language contained in former Maine Bar Rule 7.3(j)(5).
Rule 29(d) adopts, in part, the provisions of Model Rule 25(D). Analogous language may be found in former Maine Bar Rule 7.3(j)(5). The committee rejected the publication notice practice in both the Model Rule and the former Maine Bar Rule and instead opted for posting notice of a petitioner’s reinstatement petition on the Board’s website.
Rule 29(e) adopts, in part, the provisions of the Model Rule 25(E) Analogous languages may be found in former Maine Bar Rule 7.3(j)(5). The committee rejected the Model Rule requirement that a disbarred attorney must pass the bar examination and the character and fitness examination. The committee also rejected the current Maine practice whereby attorneys must pay a filing fee and a reinstatement. Instead, the reinstatement fee will be included in the filing fee.
Rule 29(f) is analogous to language found in former Maine Bar Rule 7.3(j)(5) and is in accord with Model Rule 25(F). The current rule, however, calls for Bar Counsel to provide notice of support or opposition to the petitioner’s reinstatement application to the Grievance Commission and the Court rather than the Board and the Court.
Rule 29(g) is based on Model Rule 25(G) and is analogous to language found in former Maine Bar Rule 7.3(j)(5).
Rule 29(h) is based in large part on Model Rule 25(H), and similar provisions can be found in former Maine Bar Rule 7.3(j)(6).
Rule 29(i) corresponds Model Rule (25)(I). While there is no equivalent former Maine Bar Rule, the revised rule is in accord with current Maine practice.
Rule 29(j) adopts Model Rule 25(J) in its entirety. The former Maine Bar Rules contain no equivalent provision. However, the committee concluded that it would be advantageous to include a specific rule stating the Court’s power to reciprocally reinstate attorneys who have been reinstated in another jurisdiction.