On Monday, February 27, 2023, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court suspended attorney David K. Fulton, Esq., for a conflict of interest.
The case is entitled “Board of Overseers of the Bar v. David K. Fulton, Esq.,” with case no. CV-22-22.
On September 24, 2021, the Colorado Supreme Court suspended the respondent from the practice of law for 6 months upon finding out that the latter engaged in misconduct. The Board of Overseers of the Bar filed a petition for reciprocal discipline on September 2022. The Board requested that the court impose substantially identical discipline against the respondent in the State of Maine. The misconduct of the respondent in Colorado involved multiple transactions over several years which issued a potential conflict of interest because the respondent had a “best friend” relationship with his client. In response, the respondent argued that a reciprocal discipline would result in grave injustice.
The filing states:
“Mr. Fulton did not argue that reciprocal discipline was not appropriate due to grounds (1) or (2). Rather, Mr. Fulton argued that reciprocal discipline would result in grave injustice or be offensive to Maine public policy and the reason for the original order no longer exists. Mr. Fulton’s arguments included that a) the original discipline should not have been imposed and/or was unfair, b) the misconduct found to have occurred in Colorado would not have been misconduct in Maine “; it has been a long time since the conduct in question occurred, d) that Mr’. Fulton was only treating a friend essentially pro bono, and e) Fulton hoped to retire without his Maine reputation being tarnished”
It was argued by the respondent that the actual harm to his clients was minimal, and he did not have any dishonest motive. Despite these reasons, the court of Maine finds that the respondent didn’t meet his burden of proof. The court emphasized that a reciprocal discipline will not result in grave injustice.
The filing continues:
“Maine citizens have a legitimate interest in ensuring professionals licensed in the State of Maine conform to professional standards and Maine initial receive protective benefits from having Maine attorneys who are disciplined in other jurisdictions disciplined in Maine as well. Moreover, while the Court is satisfied that Mr. and Mrs. Fulton has found the underlying situation and the disciplinary proceedings to be very stressful and feels that Mr. Fulton’s desire to help others backfired, the Court is not satisfied that imposing reciprocal discipline would constitute a ” grave injustice.”
The court also mentioned that the respondent didn’t provide any evidence that he had completed the eight hours of ethics coursework required of him in the State of Colorado. With this fact, and all the abovementioned reasons, the court decided to suspend the attorney.
The Disposition states:
“The Court hereby suspends Mr. Fulton from the practice of law in Maine for a period of six months and such suspension is suspended on the condition that Mr. Fulton is on a period of probation for one year. The Court is satisfied that one-year probation is sufficient. The terms of the probation are that Mr. Fulton complies with the Maine Bar Rules, that he engages in eight hours of ethics course work and reports such ethics work to Bar Counsel, and that he does not represent any client in the State of Maine without engaging a monitor (he may continue to represent himself). If Mr. Fulton wishes to represent any client in the State of Maine before he enters into that representation, he shall notify Bar Counsel and he and Bar Counsel shall agree upon a monitor and the monitor will be engaged in terms and conditions that satisfy the Bar, Mr. Fulton and the monitor.”
Mr. Fulton attended the University of Akron School of Law, graduating in 1974. He practices in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. He is licensed in Colorado and Maine. His info can be found on Linkedin.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.