STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Marisa A. Humphrey, Complainant vs. Ira Scott Mayo, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #03-0209
Pursuant to Practice Book §2-35, the undersigned, duly-appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted hearings at the Superior Court, 1061 Main Street, Bridgeport Connecticut on August 11 and September 8, 2004. The hearings addressed the record of the complaint filed on September 8, 2003, and the probable cause determination filed by the Litchfield Judicial District Grievance Panel on December 5, 2003, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rule 8.4(2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Notice of the August 11, 2004 hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on June 8, 2004. Notice of the September 8, 2004 hearing was mailed to the Complainant and to the Respondent on August 13, 2004. The Complainant and the Respondent appeared and testified at the hearings. The Complainant was represented by Attorney Tracey Hardman. The Respondent was represented by Attorney Michael Fasano. Reviewing committee member Attorney Margarita Moore was not available for the September 8, 2004 hearing. The Complainant did not waive the participation of Attorney Moore in the decision of this case. Accordingly, Attorney Moore reviewed the transcript of the September 8, 2004 hearing and the entire record prior to participating in this decision.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
In or around April of 2003, the Complainant retained the Respondent to represent her in a criminal matter. The Complainant had few financial resources at the time due to domestic difficulties that had caused her and her children to seek assistance from a local battered women’s shelter. Thereafter, during the course of the representation, the Respondent made several unwarranted sexual advances on the Complainant, some of which involved physical contact. Although the Complainant resisted these advances and asked the Respondent to stop, he persisted.
After she retained the Respondent on the criminal matter, the Complainant sought a restraining order against her husband. Although she felt uncomfortable with his representation, the Complainant retained the Respondent to represent her in the restraining order matter, but brought a representative of the battered women’s shelter with her to court due to her discomfort being alone with the Respondent. The Respondent told the Complainant that with regard to fees owed for the legal work, she could “work off” the fees. The Respondent also asked the Complainant to accompany him to the U.S. Open tennis tournament but she declined.
This reviewing committee also considered the following:
The Complainant and the Respondent submitted a Joint Stipulation of the Parties dated September 1, 2004. In that stipulation, the Respondent acknowledged that the Complainant “could have reasonably and objectively perceived his conduct as sexual in nature.” The Respondent further admitted in the stipulation that the conduct “harmed” the attorney client relationship.
We conclude by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent’s conduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct. We conclude that the Respondent made numerous unwarranted sexual advances on the Complainant, some of which involved physical contact. Although the Complainant repeatedly asked the Respondent to stop this conduct, it continued. Indeed, the Respondent even suggested to the Complainant that sexual favors could be used to pay her legal fees. We conclude that the conduct clearly violated Rule 8.4(2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct and order the Respondent presented to the Superior Court for whatever discipline the court deems appropriate. Since a presentment is a de novo proceeding, we order that the presentment complaint contain additional charges that the Respondent’s conduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Attorney Raymond B. Rubens
Attorney Margarita Moore
Ms. Dahlia Johnston