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Legal Ethics

Brain injury leads to suspension for Maine lawyer; ‘I couldn’t stick to tasks,’ he says

Posted Jun 25, 2014 5:45 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Maine lawyer says he can no longer function effectively as a trial lawyer and he agrees with his indefinite suspension, imposed by a Maine Supreme Judicial Court justice on May 27.

Newport lawyer Dale Thistle, 66, attributes his problems to a traumatic brain injury caused by a November 2011 car accident, CentralMaine.com reports. Complaints made to the bar about his handling of cases “are serious and meritorious and directly stem from my brain injury,” he told the publication. “I even self-reported a misfiling in federal court.”

Thistle says his intelligence is intact but his ability to perform executive functions is impaired. He suffers from minor seizures and small blackouts. “I couldn’t organize my day-to-day life,” he told CentralMaine.com. “I couldn’t stick to the tasks. It’s just the result of the brain injury.”

The Bangor Daily News calls Thistle a well-known lawyer in its earlier coverage of the suspension. He represented a former Newport official accused of embezzlement, a 14-year-old girl accused of stabbing her aunt 106 times, and class-action clients who claimed they were illegally strip-searched at the Knox County jail.

Thistle can regain his license if his condition improves, but he’s not optimistic. “I have no plans at the moment,” he told CentralMaine.com. “I don’t know what I’m going to do."

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