Legal Ethics

NH Lawyer Publicly Censured for Having Sex with Client

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Add another lawyer to the list of those recently disciplined for having sex with the wife in a divorce case.

In the case of Paul Maggiotto, however, the wife was also his client, and he “had a duty not to engage in a sexual relationship with his divorce client,” says the Professional Conduct Committee of the New Hampshire Supreme Court in its written opinion (PDF).

It cites an ethical rule prohibiting most sexual relationships between an attorney and a client and notes that Maggiotto should have been aware, as a longtime family law practitioner, of “the vulnerabilities of litigants in domestic cases.”

Exceeding the reprimand recommended by disciplinary counsel, the committee publicly censured Maggiotto even though he had no prior attorney discipline record, reports the Concord Monitor. A censure involves public notice to the bar association and the local newspaper.

The woman’s husband complained to authorities when he discovered the affair, saying that he believed Maggiotto had rushed the divorce through as a result.

The client said the relationship was consensual and hadn’t harmed her case and the committee noted that the matter didn’t involve any custody or alimony dispute.

Maggiotto declined to comment to the Monitor, beyond saying that he didn’t consider the matter newsworthy.

Related coverage: “Michigan Lawyer Gets Three-Year Suspension for Having Sex with Client’s Wife” “Sex with Client’s Spouse Is a Per Se Legal Ethics Violation, Top SC Court Says” “Proposed Texas Ban on Sex with Clients Is Subject of Hot Debate”

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