BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- The Board of overseers of the Maine Bar says for the first time ever it is recommending a prosecutor's license to practice law be suspended. The panel found Hancock County Assistant District Attorney, Mary Kellett, in violation of ethical standards. Among the violations is engaging in conduct unworthy of an attorney.
This review stems from a 2009 case where Kellett prosecuted a man on charges of rape against his wife. The man was acquitted and filed a complaint that Kellett did violate bar rules during her prosecution.
Everett Bartlett with the advocacy group Stop Abusive and Violent Environments followed this case for over a year and pushed for the state to act.
Bartlett said, "This was a pattern of misconduct that occurred over months or even years that involved mary Kellett and other people in that same office of prosecutors in district . This was not just a one time incident or because the prosecutors were overworked. This is really a problem of a pattern system of prosecutorial misconduct that was documented not just in this one case."
The three person panel only looked at one case during the investigation. Prior to the investigation Kellett held a clean record.
District Attorney Chris Almy with Penobscot and Piscataquis county said, "Mary Kellett from my personal knowledge of her, I know her to be a very dedicated, hardworking prosecutor trying to do the best she can for her community. On the other hand we have a group of individuals who are making judgement on her conduct, with all due respect to them, I don't think they really understand the pressure that she's under and some of the obligations that we are under and they make a judgment against her. It's disheartening for all of us."
The panel found two concerns during the investigation. First, Kellett's rebuttal argument highlighted absence of evidence that she had argued to keep out of the trial. An expert on the panel described this move as "stubborn" and that she appeared to be "bucking the court" during her rebuttal. Second, Kellett withheld two key pieces of evidence from the defense.
These findings are what led to the panel's decision to recommend suspension.
This decision Penobscot County District Attorney Chris Almy is concerned, "It's a difficult situation, and not just for mary Kellett, but for all prosecutors because this decision they make reflects on how we are supposed to do our job and I'm not sure that they've got it right."
Chris Almy said the suspension of Kellett would add strain on an already short staff and heavy workload.
But her suspension is by no means a certainty. Kellett will appear before a justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. That justice will then make that decision.
We did try to speak with the Hancock District Attorney's office and Kellett herself, neither were available for comment.