AUGUSTA — Attorney Darrick Banda, who once sought to be top prosecutor in Kennebec and Somerset counties, was admonished by a grievance commission Monday for giving legal advice to a woman named as a victim of domestic assault by one of his clients.

“What he is being admonished for is for telling a witness that if they’re subpoenaed, they need to show up at court and testify truthfully,” said James M. Bowie, of the Portland law firm of Thompson Bowie and Hatch.

The action occurred after a hearing at the Capital Judicial Center before a three-person commission designated by the Board of Overseers of the Maine Bar, which governs lawyers’ professional conduct.

According to the sanction issued to Banda, the panel found “there was little or no injury caused to a client, the public, the legal system or the profession; and there is little likelihood of repetition by Banda.”

The incident occurred Dec. 15, 2015, during a phone conversation with the woman.

According to the panel’s findings, Banda explained the “ramifications of her not testifying for the state (the prosecutor) against (the defendant), both under subpoena and without a subpoena. In that discussion, Banda provided (the woman) with legal information concerning her appearance as a witness against his client.”

The complaint originated with the prosecutor, Andrew Robinson, district attorney in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.

“It’s a minor violation; it’s not discipline under the rules,” Bowie said. “It shows the tension the defense counsel has when you’re representing a defendant in a criminal action. You have to interview and investigate witness, and yet when you speak with those witnesses, it’s not uncommon for them to ask questions. ‘What do I have to do? What do I do if I decide if I don’t want to testify?’ The decision says you have be very careful in even responding to those questions.”

Bowie said when a witness asks, “‘Gee, what can I do?’ You have to say, ‘I can’t answer; you have to get your own lawyer.'”

Banda has been a member of the Maine State Bar since 2002. He practices at the Law Offices of Ronald W. Bourget in Augusta. Banda has not previously been the subject of a disciplinary proceeding.

The finding indicated Banda “has taken responsibility for his transgressions” and expressed remorse for violating the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct.

The complaint was resolved with a “Stipulated Report of Findings and Order of the Grievance Commission,” which was presented and approved by the grievance panel Monday and is posted on the board’s website at www.mebaroverseers.org/.

Banda ran for public office as a Republican candidate in 2012, gaining 44 percent of the vote in an unsuccessful bid to become district attorney in Kennebec and Somerset counties. Two years later sought a House seat, also unsuccessfully.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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