The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has suspended local attorney Jonathan C. Hull from practicing law in the state, citing misconduct that poses “an imminent threat to clients, the public, and to the administration of justice.”
The indefinite suspension was effective at 5 p.m., Friday, Aug. 24. The Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar announced the suspension in a brief statement Monday, Aug. 27.
“According to the Court, evidence submitted by the Board of Overseers of the Bar supports a finding that Mr. Hull violated ethics rules relating to conflict of interest, truthfulness in statements to others, and misconduct,” the board said in the statement. The board regulates the conduct of lawyers in Maine.
Hull, who has a law office in Damariscotta and lives in Newcastle, declined comment when reached by phone Monday evening.
Hull faces charges of felony forgery and theft, along with other criminal charges, in connection with his time as treasurer of the nonprofit Cheseborough Program.
Hull allegedly took $24,250 from the organization’s checking account, according to an affidavit by Sgt. Erick Halpin, of the Damariscotta Police Department. He later repaid the money.
The Cheseborough Program facilitates student exchanges between the city of Bath and the city of Tsugaru, Japan.
Hull, 72, was arrested at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Wiscasset on Aug. 8.
The Board of Overseers of the Bar petitioned for his suspension Aug. 10, according to the Supreme Judicial Court’s “order of immediate interim suspension.”
Hull, through an attorney, filed a response Aug. 15. “Attorney Hull did not submit any rebuttal evidence but has argued that the Board’s position is not supported,” according to the order.
The court held a conference Aug. 21 and issued its order Thursday, Aug. 23.
“Under the facts presented by the Board, this Court concludes that Attorney Hull’s misconduct serves as an imminent threat to clients, the public, and to the administration of justice,” Associate Justice Valerie Stanfill said in the order.
Hull must vacate his law office and “immediately surrender possession and control of” his client files, the keys to the office, office-related bank accounts, and all computer and mobile devices he uses in his practice, according to the order.
Hull may only return to the office to retrieve his personal belongings under the supervision of a court-appointed receiver. The court will appoint co-receivers to “wind down the law office and protect the interests of” Hull’s clients, according to the order.
Hull graduated from the University of Maine School of Law in 1974 and was admitted to the Maine bar the same year, according to the Board of Overseers of the Bar.
He is scheduled to make his initial appearance on the criminal charges at the county courthouse at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 13.
In addition to the forgery and theft charges, he faces one count each of misdemeanor misuse of entrusted property and falsifying private records.