A Connecticut lawyer who once filed a brief bound with twine for Maine’s highest court has been suspended from practicing law in the state for a year.

The suspension of Harold Burbank II was upheld by Robert W. Clifford, an active retired justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, who agreed with the Board of Overseers of the Bar’s finding that Burbank violated six rules of conduct for lawyers.

Burbank, who lives in Canton, Connecticut, was admitted to the Maine bar in 1989 and rarely practiced in the state. However, Clifford’s decision said Burbank helped presidential candidate Ralph Nader get on Maine’s ballot in the early 2000s.

The case that led to Burbank’s discipline was a land dispute in Northport involving Burbank, his family and some neighbors. A Superior Court judge found in favor of the neighbors on the primary dispute and also in favor of some of Burbank’s family members, who sought to partition the family’s land.

Burbank alone appealed the ruling, filing his appeal brief on paper in which three holes were punched and the papers held together with twine. The court rejected the brief and also asked Burbank to show why he shouldn’t be disqualified for representing three family members who wanted the Law Court to uphold the lower court’s finding, while also representing himself in appealing the ruling. He subsequently withdrew as the lawyer for the family members.

In its decision to uphold the lower court ruling, the Law Court said that throughout the appeal, Burbank “consistently disregarded standards of law and practice.”


“He has asserted legal arguments that are frivolous and baseless,” the court said, and his “efforts have been disrespectful to the proper role of the trial court, unfair to and expensive for the other parties and contrary to Maine appellate law. … Although the actions taken by Burbank would be concerning if he were a litigant unschooled in law, we note that Burbank is not only an attorney, but an attorney who is licensed to practice in Maine.

“His actions demonstrate either a complete lack of understanding or an intentional flouting” of the rules, the court concluded.

The overseers said that attitude continued as they sought to discipline Burbank, who at one point asserted that the rules for lawyers weren’t published and that meant he was unable to interpret them.

“In short, he does not appear to have a good grasp of the procedural rules of litigation,” the overseers board said.

The board also noted that Burbank failed to pay a sanction imposed by the Law Court and has filed for bankruptcy in Connecticut.

According to Clifford’s decision, Burbank did not exhibit competence or diligence, asserted frivolous claims, was unfair to opposing parties and engaged in misconduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Clifford did note, however, that Burbank had no prior disciplinary record in Maine, was under stress because of his father’s poor health and had suffered a stroke himself.

Clifford also said that although the term of the suspension is a year, Burbank will need to file a request for reinstatement next January if he wants to resume practicing law in Maine.

A call to Burbank’s law office in Connecticut was not returned Tuesday.

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