Dec. 7-An attorney for a federal prosecutor who pleaded guilty to operating under the influence last week withdrew a motion to shield key information from public view, taking the step Tuesday following inquiries about the case and why some details had been redacted.
A motion to redact information from Michael J. Conley's court file was withdrawn Tuesday after the Press Herald called Conley, his attorney and the courthouse inquiring about his case and why details in his file had been sealed.
An assistant U.S. attorney, Conley, 48, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor under an agreement known as a deferred disposition in which the charge will be dismissed if over the next year he completes 50 hours of community service and avoids driving with any alcohol in his blood.
Conley did not respond to calls and an email seeking to discuss his case.
"It was simply redacting his date of birth and his home address," his attorney, Matthew Nichols, said Tuesday. "He received no special treatment because of his position from prosecutors at all."
Nichols said he had asked Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Thomas McKeon to hide the information because of Conley's position with the Department of Justice. Nichols said he doesn't think this sort of information should be publicly available for any criminal defendant because of the possibility of identity theft.
He said that "anyone can go down and look at a court file. There are people who may wish ill will on a certain person. ... That's the easiest way to find out a person's residence."
But he said he withdrew the motion to keep the information sealed because of calls to Conley's office about the case. They made it sound like a scandal when it wasn't, he said.
McKeon orally granted Conley's motion to redact the information Friday. A spokesperson for the Maine Judicial Branch said it would not be "appropriate" for McKeon to speak to a reporter about an open case.
The incident for which Conley was charged occurred on April 24, 2022, and he refused to comply with the arresting officer's request for a field test, court records state. Further details about the incident were not in the court records. Portland Police said Tuesday that they were unable to share further details about Conley's arrest.
A criminal history check with the Maine Bureau of Identification revealed that Conley has no prior convictions.
Under Conley's deferred disposition, he will volunteer at a nonprofit of his choice. Nichols said Tuesday that Conley plans to do something through the Department of Veteran affairs, a nod to his seven years in the Marine Corps. Conley also agreed to pay the district attorney's office $50 a month in supervision fees.
Conley's driver's license has been suspended since June 9. As of Tuesday, he was allowed to drive again with a work-restricted license, which he was eligible for after 180 days of suspension and the completion of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles' Driver Education and Evaluation Program. He will have a normal driver's license without restrictions on March 11, 2023.
Cumberland County Assistant District Attorney Tracy Gorham prosecuted Conley's case and said it's not uncommon for her office to offer deferred disposition to defendants with charges related to operating under the influence. About 40 percent of the 793 active deferred dispositions fall in this category.
Conley has been a licensed attorney in Maine since Oct. 26, 1999, according to his profile with the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar. He has a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland declined to speak to a reporter about Conley's case and his plea.