July 15, 2013

Maine prosecutor's misconduct may lead to suspension

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — A Hancock County prosecutor admitted Monday to violating rules of conduct while prosecuting a former Gouldsboro man in 2008 and 2009.

Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellett acknowledged at a disciplinary hearing that she violated multiple bar rules.

The Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar had filed a complaint earlier this year seeking her suspension.

It was the first such complaint in Maine against a prosecutor.

Lawyers for Kellett and the board of overseers reached an agreement before Monday's hearing in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Under the agreement, Kellett's license could be suspended in the future but she can continue to practice law for now, with additional training.

"This is the first time any information charging a prosecutor with misconduct has been brought before a single justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court," said Assistant Attorney General William Fisher, who represented Kellett. "It's very serious."

Vladick Filler filed the complaint after he was acquitted of raping his wife in 2007. He accused Kellett of:

• Violating bar rules with statements she made in her closing arguments at his first trial, in January 2009.

• Withholding evidence, such as a 911 recording, that could have helped Filler's defense.

• Interfering with subpoenas issued by Filler's attorney.

Fisher said the Attorney General's Office and the bar's attorney agreed that Kellett could face a 30-day license suspension, but it would be suspended with a requirement that she complete six hours of training in prosecutorial ethics, in addition to training she is already required to complete.

Supreme Court Justice Ellen Gorman said she intends to impose the recommendation by the end of this week, after better reviewing it and making corrections.

Fisher said Kellett has worked in the Hancock County District Attorney's Office for more than 10 years and has prosecuted more than 10,000 cases.

"Of all the cases, one of them resulted in a bar complaint, and that's this case," Fisher said. "I don't think any fair-minded person should judge the fairness of attorney Kellett by the snapshot of this one case."

Bar Counsel Scott Davis said during the half-hour hearing that he disagreed with Filler, the man who filed the complaint requesting that Kellett be disbarred.

"This is a first-offense situation," Davis said.

Although Davis disagreed with Filler about sanctions, a board panel agreed with Filler in a finding last year that Kellett violated bar rules and that, by her own testimony, it appeared likely she "would repeat this unfairly prejudicial conduct."

Kellett and Filler spoke at Monday's hearing, with Kellett admitting her mistakes and Filler asking that she be "held to a higher standard."

"I regret the harm my mistakes caused," Kellett said. "While I did not intentionally violate the bar rules, my actions did violate the bar rules."

Filler read a prepared statement saying that his now ex-wife accused him of rape to get the upper hand in a battle for custody of the couple's two sons.

"Numerous exculpatory statements were received by authorities," Filler said. "The DA's Office exploited a crisis situation."

The judge apologized to Filler for his first trial, which she said was unfair. But she said his second trial, at which Filler was convicted of assaulting his wife, was fair.

Kellett and her boss, Carletta "Dee" Bassano, the district attorney for Hancock and Washington counties, did not speak with news media after the hearing.

Filler spoke to reporters and a crowd of supporters, saying he was "obviously disappointed" with the outcome of the case.

Filler said he now has custody of his children and lives in Lawrenceville, Ga.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@pressherald.com

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