Dishonorable Achievement: Disbarred for Life
John D. Duncan achieved a dubious milestone this week, becoming the first lawyer ever in Maine to be disbarred for life. The former partner in the Portland-based firm Verrill Dana admitted to stealing $300,000 from clients from 1997 to 2007. His disbarment is the most severe sanction ever imposed on a Maine lawyer, the Portland Press Herald reports.
In ordering the disbarment, Maine Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Warren M. Silver described the charges against Duncan:
For a significant period of his practice, Duncan had been a leader of Verrill Dana's Private Clients Group, where he primarily handled estate planning and estate administration matters. Starting in September 1997 and continuing through January 2007, Duncan deposited checks for the payment of legal and other services totaling at least $109,000 into his personal bank account, and did not transfer the proceeds to the firm as he should have. Duncan also agrees that a client, JT, had appointed him to act under a durable power of attorney. As part of his duties, Duncan issued or authorized checks from that client's bank account for payment of legal fees. On occasion, he detailed in the client's check register the amount of the check and the firm's name as the payee, but Duncan wrote his name on the check as the payee. Duncan then deposited the check into an account he controlled.
Given the size of the theft and its continuation over a period of 10 years, Silver wrote, he was clear in his conclusion "that Duncan should not ever be eligible to apply for reinstatement to the Bar."
While this is the end of the disciplinary process for Duncan, his former firm continues to be under investigation for its handling of the matter. Complaints filed by Duncan's former secretary against former managing partner David Warren and the members of the firm's executive board remain pending with the Board of Bar Overseers, the Press Herald says. They could face discipline for not immediately reporting Duncan's misconduct.
[Hat tip to Al Nye The Lawyer Guy.]
Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 16, 2008 at 12:11 PM | Permalink
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