Posted Apr 02, 2012 08:47 pm CDT
A recent ethics opinion by Maine’s top court offers guidance on what to do—and not to do—when faced with a presumably unusual problem: An attorney is convinced that a former client is a serial killer.
“Obsessed” with the background and history of his ex-client, Rory Holland, who he represented in a real estate matter, longtime sole practitioner Eric B. Cote engaged in a “one-man crusade” to further investigate his background and help perceived victims seek justice after Holland was convicted of a double murder for which he is serving a double life term, the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine recounts in a March 23 opinion (PDF).
The problem is, in doing so Cote made use of confidential information he obtained during the course of his representation of Holland, thus falling afoul of legal ethics rules, the court explains.
Citing Cote’s hitherto unblemished disciplinary record, the court said that a public reprimand was the appropriate sanction. It also ordered Cote not to take any further action adverse to Holland.
A Maine Today column provides further details.
Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.
Updated on April 4 to link to Maine Today column.