Verrill Dana Saga Continues

The Portland Press Herald reports on the latest in the fallout from former Verrill Dana attorney John Duncan’s massive theft from the firm’s clients.  The state bar ethics board is trying to find out more about what and when the firm knew about Duncan’s actions, but the firm is claiming attorney-client privilege.

Libby eventually reached an agreement with Verrill Dana regarding his resignation. He pledged not to disclose the information he had gathered unless a court ordered him to do so. That’s exactly what Davis seeks. He issued a subpoena to Libby on Sept. 8, 2008. Davis wants Libby’s testimony and all of the documents. Verrill Dana filed a motion to quash the subpoena. The dispute went to Justice Warren Silver of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Silver reviewed the documents in his chambers, and he denied Verrill Dana’s motion.  Silver ruled that no attorney-client privilege existed because Libby “may have uncovered criminal conduct by partners of Verrill Dana.

“Under federal and state law, communications between clients and lawyers are no longer protected if the purpose of the communications was to aid in the commission of a fraud or a crime, or to actively conceal past wrongdoing. Justice Silver ordered Libby to turn over the documents to Davis. But Verrill Dana appealed to the full state Supreme Court.

In the Oct. 27 decision, the majority of the justices felt that Silver did not include enough information in his order to support the disclosure of the documents. Justices Robert Clifford, Jon Levy, Andrew Mead and Ellen Gorman sent the case back to Silver for clarification. They essentially asked Silver to review the law again and to make sure that the documents obtained by Libby are exempt from attorney-client privilege. It is not known whether Silver has issued a second order, which will likely have a major impact on the course of Davis’ inquiry.

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