Thursday, May 13, 2010

Follow-up: Attorneys cleared

Published in the Portland Phoenix

Three attorneys who faced allegations of professional misconduct (see “CMP Attorney, State Regulators Under Review,” by Jeff Inglis, April 2) have been cleared of wrongdoing by a committee of the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar, according to a ruling issued last week.

The three had been the objects of a complaint from Bob Bemis of Levant, stemming from how they handled communications with him and with staff of the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) during a regulatory proceeding.

Ken Farber, the general counsel for Central Maine Power, was given the cleanest bill of health, with the board noting in its ruling that the person charged with proving the allegations, Jacqueline Gomes, admitted during last month’s hearing on the matter that he had done nothing wrong.

Eric Bryant, an attorney for the Maine Office of the Public Advocate, had admitted failing to send a copy of a single e-mail message to Bemis and another party in the proceeding, but the review board’s report says that error was “of little consequence,” and the e-mail contained “no new information” that needed to be provided to Bemis. As a result of those facts, he was also found not to have violated any rules of the bar.

Joanne Steneck, general counsel for the PUC, was found to have been “operating under the sincere, though perhaps mistaken belief” that Bemis and another party to the proceeding had agreed to let her communicate without sending copies of correspondence to them. The report suggested a couple of things Steneck could have done that “would have been better practice,” but because she was operating in good faith and because the report said no serious damage was done by her actions, she was also found not to have violated any rules.