A Lewiston-based attorney has been suspended from practice for six months after being found to have lied to one client about filing a case on her behalf and failed to file a case for another client despite collecting a $1,500 fee.

Stephen J. Link was suspended Oct. 31 after the two clients filed complaints with the state Board of Overseers of the Bar, the professional licensing agency for attorneys in Maine.

Attorneys who are admitted to the bar agree to follow strict rules of professional conduct or risk losing their right to practice. Complaints against attorneys are investigated by the overseers. If a complaint is found to have merit, a recommendation for sanctions is often presented to a single justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, who decides what penalties are appropriate.

Link was admitted to the Maine bar in 2015. A listed phone number for his Lewiston office is disconnected, and he could not be reached for an interview Thursday. His corporation, Stephen J. Link, Attorney at Law, LLC, was dissolved in 2020 after he failed to file an annual report with the Maine Secretary of State’s Office as required by law.

Link filed an initial response to the bar complaints, but failed to participate in further proceedings and the findings of misconduct were entered as a default judgment, meaning the case presented by the bar board was heard unopposed.

In her Oct. 29 decision against him, District Court Judge E. Mary Kelly, who was designated to write the opinion, found that Link has no disciplinary history, was relatively new in practice and that some of his errors could have been unintentional. But she said that his failure to engage in the disciplinary process meant he was unable to discharge his duties as an attorney, and she highlighted his deception of one of the clients who complained.

“The Court cannot determine whether Attorney Link’s failure to participate in this process is the product of disdain or disability, but finds that in either event before Attorney Link returns to practice he must demonstrate his fitness to do so,” Kelly wrote.

The first case that resulted in a complaint began in late 2018, when Pamela Stowe hired Link to represent her in a probate matter, a contested will, and paid Link a $1,500 advance fee.

Two months later, Stowe instructed Link to file a lawsuit on her behalf, but Link never filed it. From January 2019 into that summer, Stowe attempted to contact Link but could not reach him.

He replied to her in August 2019, apologized and offered to refund the $1,500. By January 2020, Stowe still had not received repayment.

Link’s failure to file the lawsuit at the proper time means Stowe is now barred under law from pursuing the matter because of rules setting time limits on when certain claims must be made.

The second case began in 2019, when a woman engaged Link to represent her in another probate matter in which she sought to be named personal representative of a dead man’s estate, according to Kelly’s decision. Such filings are a routine aspect of settling a deceased person’s affairs.

The client, Jennifer Cutting, asked Link via email in late February 2019 to provide a progress report on the probate case. Link told her his pleadings were not accepted by the court because he needed the addresses of the heirs listed in the deceased man’s will, and Cutting provided the addresses the same day, Kelly’s decision said.

About a week later, Cutting again asked for a status report, and Link told her he expected to hear back from the court in about a week.

Cutting contacted him again more than a week later. When he did not reply, she called the court and learned that the matters Link had promised to pursue had not been filed, according to the decision. Thirteen days later, Link responded, telling Cutting that the probate matter was proceeding – but in reality, he waited another month to file it.

By early May, Cutting still had not received the paperwork she expected, and attempted to contact Link again. Another week passed before Link told her on May 20 that there had been a mix-up with the death certificate but that it had been addressed.

In fact, Link did not file the death certificate until the next day, May 21. Finally, in June, Cutting directed Link to withdraw from the case, but he failed to file that paperwork, as well.


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