The state’s former top drug prosecutor should be free on bail at some point today, and his attorney said he will return to Maine.

James Cameron, 49, formerly of Hallowell and most recently of Rome, has spent the past year behind bars, serving a 16-year federal sentence for transportation, receipt and possession of child pornography.

An appeals court on Tuesday ordered Cameron freed on bail while his convictions are being appealed.

The attorney who represented him at trial, Michael Cunniff, said he expects Cameron to be released today under conditions set by U.S. District Court Judge John A. Woodcock.

Cunniff said Cameron will not return to his former Hallowell residence but — out of concern, he said, for Cameron’s safety — declined to say precisely where in Maine he will be staying.

Cameron was convicted of 13 charges on Aug. 23, 2010, after a six-day nonjury trial in federal court in Portland. Woodcock, who presided over the trial, also imposed the sentence.

Cameron was taken into custody immediately after being convicted. He was sentenced March 10.

He previously had lost three bids to be freed on bail pending appeal. Woodcock also heard those motions. The most recent rejection occurred May 9.

Cameron’s release pending appeal was ordered Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit. That court ordered conditions to be set by Woodcock, and both Cunniff and the U.S. Attorney’s Office spent Wednesday suggesting various conditions for that release.

Woodcock’s decision became public at noon Thursday.

Conditions of release say Cameron must:

* submit to active GPS monitoring;

* register with “all pertinent sex offender registries”;

* report in person to probation officer Robert Jeffrey with 72 hours of release from the Federal Correctional Institute in Englewood, Colo.;

* post an unsecured $75,000 bond;

* adhere to a curfew as set by a supervising officer; and

* participate in Internet monitoring, for which Cameron must pay.

In the order, Woodcock provided his reasoning for setting bail as requested by the defense rather than the prosecution:

“From this court’s perspective, the only reasonable conclusion from the First Circuit’s order is that it has preliminarily concluded that the court committed a manifestly serious error in arriving at its verdict so that the continued detention of Mr. Cameron would work an injustice.”

In its one-paragraph order granting Cameron bail, the circuit court cited a U.S. Supreme Court case that involved a Sixth Amendment right to confrontation, Bullcoming v. New Mexico.

“Before this (district) court, Mr. Cameron prominently raised a contention that the images of child pornography in this case were inadmissible without the testimony of a foundational witness. … The First Circuit’s citation of Bullcoming strongly signals that it has concluded the admission of those images was erroneous and since the images formed the basis for the government’s charges, the appellate court may well rule that Mr. Cameron is entitled to a new trial or deem him not guilty,” Woodcock continued.

Cunniff said the appeals court ruling is particularly significant.

“The defense takes a position that, if these very serious cases involving child pornography are treated with the same constitutional principles that are applied in drug cases, both the community and the constitutional rights of the suspect will be protected,” Cunniff said. “And if the authorities investigating these cases follow traditional constitutional procedures, investigations will be facilitated and individual rights protected without imposing a burden on prosecutors and police.”

In the meantime, Cameron is mounting a campaign to halt a move to suspend his bar license immediately.

Maine Supreme Court Associate Justice Ellen Gorman scheduled a hearing on that matter for 9 a.m. Aug. 30 in Cumberland County Superior Court.

The suspension action was brought by the Board of Overseers of the Bar, which set rules for lawyers who practice in Maine.

The filing with the Maine Supreme Juducial Court says Cameron’s convictions “demonstrate his unfitness to engage in the practice of law,” and ask for his immediate suspension from practicing law “pending final disposition of any disciplinary proceeding commenced as a result of such convictions, regardless of the pendency of an appeal of any or all of the convictions.”

Cameron is represented in that case by Peter Rodway.

Cameron previously served as the chief drug crimes prosecutor in the Maine Office of the Attorney General, where he spent 18 years as an assistant attorney general.

He became the target of an investigation after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported Yahoo! had found multiple images of child pornography in a Yahoo! account belonging to Cameron’s wife.

He was fired from the Office of the Maine Attorney General in April 2008 and indicted on the child pornography charges Feb. 11, 2009.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]