PORTLAND — A prosecutor for Maine’s bar argued Wednesday that an Auburn attorney whose license is suspended and who ran unsuccessfully for district attorney this fall should be disbarred for several violations, including sexual misconduct and witness tampering.

Seth Carey’s attorney, James Howaniec, said in Cumberland County Superior Court that his client needs treatment for mental illness but his actions didn’t warrant the “nuclear option” of disbarment.

In September, Justice Thomas Warren ruled in an 18-page order that Carey had violated several bar rules, including unlawful conduct stemming from his unwanted sexual advances involving a woman who lived at his Rumford home and seeking to pay for her silence about the matter. Carey also had engaged in legal practice and wrote checks on his account after his April suspension.

Warren’s decision came a month after a three-day hearing in August at which bar counsel for the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar pressed its case that Carey had violated at least four bar rules.

The board’s attorneys presented evidence and witnesses, including a woman who claimed that Carey had made persistent, unwanted sexual advances and evicted her because she repeatedly rebuffed him and recorded the wrong basketball game for him one time.

Seeking a protection-from-abuse order against Carey, his then-tenant took him to court in April. At the end of a four-hour hearing, she was granted the order after a judge had found by a preponderance of evidence that Carey had engaged in unlawful sexual touching and domestic violence assault. Carey had represented himself at that hearing, a decision he said Wednesday that he regretted.

Howaniec told Warren that Carey probably wouldn’t be fighting to save his law license if he had opted to enter into a no-contact agreement with his tenant in March. He also noted that Carey never was charged with a crime in connection with those incidents.

Deputy Bar Counsel Aria Eee said Wednesday that Carey had been suspended three times since passing the bar and had failed to complete the required conditions or continued to commit new violations or both.

“There seems to be a pattern,” she said.

Carey was put on a two-year suspension in 2016, during which he was monitored by two Twin Cities attorneys and had entered into a contract to comply with various conditions, including psychological counseling and psychiatric consultation, so that he could continue to practice law.

“We’ve tried that,” Eee told Warren, responding to Howaniec’s argument for continued suspension. “And this is the behavior he engaged in, all while that was in place.”

She added: “It’s difficult to conceive of what appropriate safeguards could be now instituted to keep us from being back before the court.”

Howaniec said Carey’s conduct that had triggered the latest bar violations outlined by Warren “is attributable, in large part, to untreated mental illness.”

“As long as Seth Carey continues to go through life, practice law, run for politics, do whatever, untreated for his mental illness, he’s going to fail,” Howaniec said. Carey continues to engage in squabbles with people rather than knowing when to quit, he said. “As long as he is not on medication, as long as he’s not in treatment, these little flareups are going to happen ’til the day he dies.”

While Eee said Carey’s violations were done intentionally, Howaniec said his client’s mental illness raises questions about his state of mind.

During the August hearing, Carey admitted he should be treated for mental health problems including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and a personality disorder with a narcissistic factor. He had said he couldn’t afford the treatment because his law license had been suspended.

With proper “mentoring, monitoring and treatment of his mental illness,” Carey is “capable of continuing as a successful and competent attorney in the state of Maine,” Howaniec said.

But Warren noted several complaints by Maine judges who have questioned Carey’s competence in the courtroom. Was that just bad judgment, Warren asked?

One common thread that dates back to those judges’ complaints is Carey’s lack of treatment for mental illness, Howaniec said.

“These mental health problems did not evolve in the past year,” he said. “This has been a lifetime history of mental health problems.”

Eee argued that “now seems a good time for him to take a break from practicing law and all of the problems that he has encountered in doing so,” while he gets the treatment he needs and can embark on various entrepreneurial ventures he’s tried in the past, including wine-making and sports apparel.

Eee said Carey should be disbarred for five years, after which he could petition the Board of Overseers of the Bar for reinstatement.

Howaniec pointed to Carey’s many cases in which he’s successfully represented legal clients and presented Justice Warren with a dozen letters attesting to Carey’s competence and compassion.

Carey told the judge Wednesday he has suffered from a lack of insight and judgment that has taken him down the wrong road more than once.

He said he often responds emotionally when he should be acting more rationally.

His father, Thomas Carey, a longtime Rumford attorney who recently retired, told Warren that Seth’s “heart is sometimes bigger than his brain.”

But he said his son was a fighter, “mostly for the little person,” and honest.

Warren said he would consider the arguments and rule at a later date.

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