A former lawyer and one-time candidate for district attorney is seeking to practice law again in Maine.

Seth Carey appears by videoconference Tuesday before the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar Grievance Commission for reinstatement of his law license. Christopher Williams screenshot from video

Seth Carey, who was 43 when a judge suspended his license for three years in December 2018, has petitioned the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar for reinstatement.

A three-person Grievance Commission began holding hearings Tuesday by videoconference after the Board of Overseers objected to Carey’s petition for reinstatement, which he filed in December.

Carey, who represented himself, called six witnesses Tuesday to testify before the commission.

Assistant Bar Counsel Alan P. Kelley represented the Board of Overseers.

Carey, who has again declared himself a candidate for district attorney in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, faces an uphill battle in that pursuit.


The Secretary of State’s office recently rejected Carey’s candidacy because his law license is under suspension and he’s not registered in a political party so he can’t be on the June 14 primary ballot.

In his petition before the Board of Overseers, Carey wrote that he had satisfied the conditions for reinstatement outlined by Maine Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren in his Dec. 26, 2018, suspension order.

Lawyers representing the Board of Overseers of the Bar had argued for Carey’s disbarment for several bar violations, which were confirmed by Warren.

Among the violations were sexual assault, witness tampering and failing to comply with a previous interim suspension order.

Although Warren agreed that disbarment would have been appropriate in that case, he added that Carey had acknowledged that mental illness likely played a role in his behavior and that he needed medication and therapy to address his debilitating condition.

Carey said Tuesday that he had “fully complied or mostly complied” with Warren’s requirements and three years had elapsed since his suspension, allowing him to reapply to work again as a lawyer.


He said he has undergone talk and medication therapy to treat his mental illness issues, as required by Warren’s order.

Carey said he has had difficulty keeping a job since his suspension and has rented out his Rumford home for income.

“Rock bottom will teach you lessons that mountaintops never will,” Carey said.

Kelley walked the commission through Carey’s history of disciplinary sanctions that began just three years after he started practicing law in Maine in 2006, including five suspensions.

Kelley said Carey must prove to the panel “by clear and convincing evidence” that the disability of personality disorder “has been removed.”

He said the board “believes that, although Mr. Carey has engaged in some counseling, that unfortunately he has not been successful in removing or successfully treating the disorder.”


Bar rules require that Carey “prove that he recognizes the wrongfulness and seriousness of the misconduct for which he was suspended. The board believes the evidence is going to very clearly show that Mr. Carey continues to believe that Justice Warren wrongfully concluded that he had criminally assaulted the complainant in that matter. I think the evidence will show that Mr. Carey fails to recognize the seriousness and wrongfulness of the misconduct for which he was suspended.”

Kelley said Carey violated the terms of Warren’s order by engaging in professional misconduct during his suspension and hadn’t fulfilled the continuing legal education requirements.

Among Carey’s witnesses Tuesday was attorney Susannah Sprague who said she and Carey had developed a friendship since they represented opposing parties years ago in a family legal dispute. She said Carey appeared to be competent in his law practice at that time.

“To me, you seem to be more of an unusual mold than a full-blown disordered person,” she said.

Sprague said Carey was an unusually passionate crusader for right and wrong.

“You are a person with a very strong moral compass in that you react very strongly to what you perceive as justice and injustice, and that you are called upon by your moral compass to address it strongly,” she said.


“I think that, as I’ve watched you over the last three years, and we’ve always maintained close contact as neighbors and friends, I think that you have learned plenty of life experience through these proceedings. I think you’ve learned that there is a need to comply with the rules, whether or not you think they’re terribly important.”

Although she believes there’s a need for rebels to speak out, Carey needed to learn to “tone it down,” she said.

Sprague said she believed Carey recognized the seriousness and wrongfulness of his misconduct, necessary elements for reinstatement.

Benjamin Luna, who has been Carey’s friend since they were students at Vermont Law School, said he has worked as a prosecutor in cases involving defendants diagnosed with personality disorder.

He testified that he has never witnessed Carey engage in anti-social behavior.

Based on his experience, Luna said he believed that for someone diagnosed with personality disorder who is engaged in active therapy and following clinical recommendations, it was possible for them to “stabilize” and “never repeat their same offense.”


Carey’s witnesses said he appeared to regret his actions and was remorseful about his behavior that led to his license suspension, but on cross-examination they explained that Carey’s regret revolved around his decision to become involved in a relationship with a woman he dated and who lived in his home who accused him of sexual assault.

In his reinstatement petition, Carey referred to the sexual assault charges as “false allegations” by a “fake victim” despite Warren’s findings in his order that abuse in fact had occurred. Carey tried several times to introduce testimony from his witnesses disputing Warren’s findings that showed Carey had engaged in sexual abuse of his former girlfriend and tenant, but the panel chairman stopped him and instructed him to move on because the panel was relying on Warren’s order for that information.

Luna said Tuesday, “I recall him telling me that … the whole interaction, the fling, the relationship, whatever it was that he had with the woman, was a mistake that he had gotten into trouble and that he regretted it.”

Asked on cross-examination whether Carey had told Luna that he continued to maintain in his reinstatement petition that he had not abused the complainant in any way, Luna said: “Yes and I’m aware of that. And I’m also aware, since you’ve raised the topic, that in domestic situations, oftentimes facts get twisted. And for Seth to continue to persist in denying responsibility for that, I am not surprised by that because much of what was alleged against him, I think, is inaccurate and was distorted.”

Seth called his mother, Sally Carey, as a witness, who said on cross-examination that her son hadn’t admitted to the sexual abuse findings in Warren’s order.

“He has never acknowledged he assaulted her,” Sally Carey said.

Once the hearing has concluded, the three-member panel will agree on a recommendation on Carey’s petition and file a report with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

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