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Bar News - October 15, 2014

NH Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee
In the Matter of Alan B. Rindler, Esquire

On June 4, 2013, Alan B. Rindler entered a plea of nolo contendere in the Circuit Court of the Twelfth Judicial District, Sarasota County, Florida, to disorderly conduct in violation of Fl. Stat. 877.03 and possession of cannabis, less than 20 grams, in violation of Fl. Stat. 893.13(6b). The conviction arose from Mr. Rindler’s conduct in physically resisting a search by TSA officials and breaching TSA security procedures at the Sarasota airport. The court accepted the plea, withheld adjudication on both charges, fined the respondent $500 on the disorderly conduct charge and $250 on the charge of possession of cannabis, and imposed court costs and the cost of prosecution.

Mr. Rindler’s disorderly conduct conviction violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(b) and (h). The Massachusetts Board accepted a stipulation of facts and disciplinary violations and a joint recommendation for discipline by public reprimand.

Mr. Rindler’s conviction also violated New Hampshire Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(b). The Professional Conduct Committee deliberated the matter on June 17, 2014, and recommended to the Court that for purposes of reciprocal discipline, a sanction of public censure is the equivalent to a public reprimand in Massachusetts. The Court concluded that a public censure is warranted, and the Committee hereby issues a Public Censure, and all costs associated with the investigation and prosecution of the matter. Sup. Ct. R. 37(19)(b).

September 22, 2014

Theroux, Linda A. advs. Attorney Discipline Office and Jeffrey R. and Jean M. Ruggiero #09-035 Remand

On June 17, 2014, the Professional Conduct Committee (the “Committee”) heard oral argument and deliberated the issue of sanction as appealed by the Attorney Discipline Office (the “ADO”). The Committee determined that Ms. Theroux should be publicly censured for violating Rules 4.1(a), 8.4(c) and 8.4(a).

Ms. Theroux stipulated to the facts. These facts were established by the Hearing Panel by clear and convincing evidence. Ms. Theroux violated the Rules of Professional Conduct in connection with her representation of her client in a divorce proceeding in the Brentwood Family Division from 2007- 2009. Ms. Theroux improperly handled a military records release executed by the opposing party and tendered it to the U.S. Coast Guard. Ms. Theroux admitted that she made the edits herself, and that she was not trying to conceal that fact from the Coast Guard by pointing out that the handwriting was markedly different, was filled out in a different color pen, and that the handwritten notations referenced her attached cover letter. Ms. Theroux believed that the discovery order issued in the divorce proceedings allowed her to request the information she sought in the altered release.

The Committee made the following Rulings of Law, by clear and convincing evidence. Ms. Theroux’s conduct in the Ruggiero divorce matter violated New Hampshire Rules of Professional Conduct 4.1(a), 8.4(c) and 8.4(a). Ms. Theroux made a knowing material misrepresentation in submitting the altered Release to the U.S. Coast Guard. Ms. Theroux, however, did not have the specific intent to commit fraud, or to deceive the Coast Guard or any third party. Ms. Theroux breached that duty by knowingly misrepresenting to the Coast Guard that the Military Records Release was a truthful statements made on behalf of her client to third parties. She presented the release in pursuit of records and information pertaining to Mr. Ruggiero as properly executed and authorized by Mr. Ruggiero, in violation of Rule 4.1(a).

Ms. Theroux breached her duty not to engage in misrepresentation by completing, altering, and supplementing the Military Records Release after it was executed by Mr. Ruggiero without notifying Mr. Ruggiero or otherwise obtaining his authority, and presenting said release to the Coast Guard without notifying Mr. Ruggiero or his counsel. Even though she did not act with the specific intent to deceive or defraud, Ms. Theroux’s conduct in altering the Release and presenting it to the Coast Guard as authentic was a knowing and material misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(c).

The Committee concurs with the Hearings Panel’s application of the first three prongs of the Standards analysis. Applying the first prong, the Hearing Panel found that Ms. Theroux violated her duty to the general public and her duty to the legal system. With regard to the second prong, the Hearing Panel determined that her mental state was “knowing.” Applying the third prong, the Hearing Panel found that Ms. Theroux caused actual harm to the reputation and integrity of the legal profession, and caused actual and potential harm to Mr. Ruggiero.

After a hearing and review of the record, including the parties’ memoranda of law, the Committee found that the baseline sanction in this case should be suspension. Although the Committee disagrees with the Hearing Panel’s determination of the baseline sanction, it nonetheless adopts the Hearing Panel’s ultimate conclusion that a public censure is the appropriate sanction.

The Committee issued a Public Censure on August 22, 2014, and assessed all costs of the investigation and prosecution of this matter. A complete copy of the Order is available at or at the Attorney Discipline Office, 4 Chenell Drive, Suite 102, Concord, NH 03301.

September 29, 2014

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