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 STATE OF MAINE


SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT				DOCKET NO. BAR-01-05

BOARD OF OVERSEERS OF THE BAR	)
							)
				Plaintiff		)
							)
		v.					)	FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS
							)	AND ORDER
JAMES P. BOONE				)
	of Dixmont, ME				)
	Me. Bar No. 2443				)
							)
				Defendant		)


	This matter is before the Court on information by the Board of Overseers
of the Bar, upon recommendation of a panel of the Grievance Commission,
seeking discipline of Attorney James P. Boone.  M. Bar. R. 7.2(b).  The
information was filed with the Court and duly served upon Mr. Boone.  Mr.
Boone did not file a timely response to the information, and the Board of
Overseers has filed a motion for default judgment.  
	The pending matters were heard on May 6, 2002.  At that time, counsel
for the Board and Mr. Boone appeared.  Based on the discussion with Bar
Counsel and Mr. Boone at the hearing, it appears that the factual allegations
asserted by Bar Counsel are largely undisputed except that it is agreed that
issues regarding Mr. Boone’s obligation towards Patrons Oxford Insurance
Company have been resolved with payment acceptable to Patrons Oxford.  
	With this matter resolved, the only issue in dispute at hearing related to
the appropriate sanction, with Bar Counsel urging disbarment and Mr. Boone
urging an indefinite suspension.  
	The facts relative to the Court’s determination in this proceeding are as
follows:
	1.	Mr. Boone was admitted to practice approximately twenty years
ago and, until 1999, maintained an active litigation practice in York County. 
Prior to this proceeding, Mr. Boone had not been subject to any bar
disciplinary action.  
	2.	In late 1996, Mr. Boone undertook to represent David Robert
Mailhiot and Mailhiot’s fiance, Leslie Perkins in their respective bankruptcy
matters.  For this legal representation, Mr. Boone was paid approximately
$1,600.  
	3.	Mr. Boone took no action on the Mailhiot and Lewis matters for
more than a year, while telling them that such matters take time.  
	4.	During this same time, a severe illness of Mr. Boone’s wife caused
him to close his office and work out of his home and then to cease his practice
entirely.  
	5.	Eventually, sometime in 1998 or 1999, Mr. Boone relocated to a
residence in Dixmont, Maine where he is required to spend substantial amount
of time caring for his disabled wife.  In addition, Mr. Boone performs some
carpentry work, but no legal work, out of this residence.  
	6.	Mr. Boone closed his practice and relocated to Dixmont without
notifying Mr. Mailhiot and Ms. Lewis of his actions.  
	7.	Mr. Mailhiot then took the bankruptcy issue into his own hands
and worked out a payment arrangement.  
	8.	Some of the fees which Mr. Boone originally charged have been
reimbursed.  However, on March 7, 2002, a fee arbitration panel ordered that
Mr. Boone repay Mr. Mailhiot the remaining $675 owed as a result of Mr.
Boone’s taking a fee and then performing no work.
	9.	The Board of Overseers disciplinary action was initiated as a result
of a complaint by Mr. Mailhiot in the fall of 2001.  After hearing before a
Grievance Commission, the matter was referred to this Court for disciplinary
action.
	10.	On October 25, 2001, Mr. Boone was suspended from the practice
of law as a result of his failure to register with the Board of Overseers and pay
the annual fee required by the Board of Overseers for continuation of practice
in the State of Maine, M. Bar. R. 6(b) and 10(b).
	11.	Mr. Boone has not sought and does not plan to seek reinstatement
at the present time or in the near future.  
	Based on Mr. Boone’s actions in: (i) agreeing to undertake representation
of clients; (ii) accepting fees from clients for the representation; (iii) failing to
perform any of the requested legal work for the clients; (iv) misleading the
clients with regard to the status of the work; (v) abandoning his practice
without notice to the clients; (vi) failing to keep the clients’ funds for the 
representation secure in a trust account; and (vii) failing to repay the clients
after he had abandoned them without doing any work, the Court concludes
that Mr. Boone has violated Bar Disciplinary Rules 3.1(a); 3.2(f)(3)(4); 3.3(a);
3.5(a)(2); 3.6(a)(2)(3); 3.6(e)(2)(ii); and 3.7(e)(1)(i).  
	Mr. Boone’s conduct in undertaking to provide legal representation and
then abandoning his clients is seriously inappropriate for a lawyer.  His
conduct in misleading his clients as to the status of their case and in failing to
repay funds he took from them and for which he did no work is dishonest.  
	In considering the appropriate sanction, the Court recognizes that the
misconduct found here is serious misconduct.  However, it is apparently the
only bar disciplinary action against Mr. Boone in a twenty year active litigation
practice.  Further Mr. Boone’s misconduct did not result from desire for
personal gain, did not result in any serious prejudice to his clients and, so far
as appears from the record, is not part of a pattern of widespread misconduct
affecting other clients.  Instead, Mr. Boone’s motivations in abandoning his
practice largely focused on his desire to provide necessary full-time aid to a
seriously ill spouse.  Mr. Boone has come forward and acknowledged his errors
in judgment and, at the present time, recognizes that his personal situation
makes it unlikely that he will soon return to practice.  In this circumstances,
with the mitigating factors of Mr. Boone’s conduct having been motivated by a
desire to aid a seriously ill spouse and of his accepting responsibility for his
misconduct and the problems it has caused and in light of his prior
unblemished record in an active litigation practice, it appears that disbarment
would be too severe a remedy.  An indefinite suspension is, in itself, a
substantial sanction.  It provides continuing protection for the public from Mr.
Boone while he may be indisposed to practice law and, at the same time, it can
assure that Mr. Boone may only return to practice when he is desirous and
able to provide full, active representation of clients.  
ORDER	
	Therefore, based on the findings and conclusions stated above, James P.
Boone’s present suspension from the practice of law is made indefinite.  Mr.
Boone may be considered for reinstatement to the practice of law only after he
has:
	1.	Repaid the $675 found to be due to Mr. Mailhiot by the Fee
Arbitration Panel, provided that this repayment shall occur no later than May
1, 2003.  
	2.	Paid all the fees and charges due to the Board of Overseers of the
Bar, the Lawyers Fund for Client Protection and any other fees which are the
obligation of lawyers engaging in active practice in the State of Maine;
	3.	Demonstrated to Bar Counsel that he is capable and desirous of
resuming the active practice of law and that he is capable of serving his clients
promptly and with all good fidelity as required by the Bar Rules; and
	4.	Demonstrated that for the first two years of return to active
practice, Mr. Boone will either be associated in practice with another active
Maine attorney acceptable to Bar Counsel or have his practice monitored by a
Maine attorney acceptable to Bar Counsel, to assure that Mr. Boone properly
complies with his obligations to his clients, the courts, and the profession.  


Dated: May 14, 2002					                                            
						Donald G. Alexander, Justice
						Maine Supreme Judicial Court