Bar News - March 13, 2009
NH Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee
Nadeau, James P., Jr. advs. William F. Becksted #05-048
PUBLIC CENSURE SUMMARY
The New Hampshire Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee deliberated the above-captioned matter and issued a Public Censure on January 12, 2009.
In or about January 2004, Justin P. Nadeau, Esquire, hired Becksted Associates (BA) to renovate and convert the second story floor space of the Nadeau Law Office into a residential apartment (The Project). Respondent and his sons, Justin and Jay, comprised Nadeau Law Offices, PLLC. On or about August 31, 2004, Respondent filed his Appearance on behalf of BA in the Tuckerís Cove lawsuit. In December 2004, a dispute arose between the Becksteds and Justin regarding the cost of The Project. On December 17, 2004, BA stopped work on The Project. On December 20, 2004, BA submitted to Justin its final invoice for its work completed to date on The Project. On or about December 29, 2004, Respondent forwarded an invoice to BA covering his legal work on the Tuckerís Cove case from July 2004 through December 29, 2004. At no time prior to or during a mediation did Respondent discuss with anyone from BA the conflict of interest between himself, his law firm, and BA as a result of the ongoing dispute between BA and Justin. In a letter to BA dated March 4, 2005, written on Nadeau Law Office stationary, Justin responded to an invoice from BA with accusations against BA and disputes regarding, inter alia, BAís billing for work on The Project.
The Committee accepted the Stipulation as to the facts, which established those facts by clear and convincing evidence that:
∑ Respondentís representation of BA in the Tuckerís Cove case may have been materially limited by the pursuit of his own interests (and/or those of Justinís) with respect to the ongoing dispute between Justin and BA.
∑ Respondent could not reasonably believe that his decision to continue representing BA would not adversely affect his representation of BA in the Tucker Cove matter.
The Committee also accepted the Stipulation as to the Rules of Professional Conduct that were violated: 1.7(b); 1.10(a); and 8.4(a), by clear and convincing evidence.
∑ Due to the ongoing dispute between Justin and BA, Justin or any other member of the firm could not have represented BA in the Tuckerís Cove case. Rule 1.7(b) prohibits a lawyer from representing a client where the representation "may be materially limited by the lawyerís . . . own interests" except in limited circumstances. See Kellyís Case, 137 N.H. at 319 (explaining that "fundamental conflicts" cannot be waived by the client).
∑ Respondentís continued and knowing representation of BA in the Tuckerís Cove case (after Mr. Nadeau became aware of the nature of the dispute between Justin and BA) constitutes a violation of Rule 1.10(a).
Respondent was issued a Public Censure with the understanding that he would resign from the New Hampshire Bar by April 15, 2009. Respondent was directed to write an apology to the complainant, and was assessed all costs associated with the investigation and prosecution of this matter.
This matter is public record, and available for inspection at the New Hampshire Supreme Court Attorney Discipline Office, 4 Chenell Drive, Suite 102, Concord, New Hampshire 03301.
March 4, 2009