08:49, February 08 509 0 abajournal.com

2018-02-08 08:49:05
Lawyer who filed brief bound with twine is suspended partly for the arguments he tried to make

Harold Burbank II was suspended for one year in a Jan. 24 decision by active retired Justice Robert Clifford of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, the Portland Press Herald reports. The Legal Profession Blog noted the decision.

The case that landed Burbank in hot water was a land dispute involving Burbank, some of his family members, and some neighbors who claimed an easement. Burbank filed an appeal with the state’s top court on paper that was punched with three holes and held together with twine.

Burbank was the only family member who appealed the land ruling; family members he represented at the trial level were appellees. The Supreme Judicial Court rejected the appeal and asked Burbank to show cause why he shouldn’t be sanctioned for representing the family members even as he tried to appeal. Burbank withdrew as counsel for the family members.

Burbank lost the appeal in the land dispute. The Supreme Judicial Court said he had stated facts not in the trial record, listed issues that were frivolous, and made arguments “devoid of legal authority to support them.” The court imposed $10,000 in sanctions.

Not all of the misconduct was deliberate, Clifford said, but “as a practicing attorney, he certainly should have known that his conduct was far afield from the standards expected of a reasonably competent attorney, and that his actions constituted misconduct.”

The problems continued in the ethics case, Clifford said. Burbank admitted making errors in interpreting the rules of court, but he said some rules were not published so he couldn’t apply them, and some rules were ambiguous.

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

Clifford noted that Burbank had suffered a stroke and his father was also ill. There is evidence that he previously provided competent representation in Nader’s ballot effort, Clifford said.

Burbank will have to petition for reinstatement. He did not immediately respond to a voicemail left by the ABA Journal.