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Lynne A. Battaglia

Lynne A. Battaglia

Retired Judge, Court of Appeals of Maryland

ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMM'N v. GRACEY

Issue: What sanction should the Court impose upon an attorney who wrongfully withdrew money from clients' accounts without authorization, made fraudulent transactions through his bank account, failed to return unearned fees, failed to deposit funds into an attorney trust account, knowingly allowed his employees to solicit potential clients by telephone and in-person, knowingly made false statements in connection with a disciplinary matter and failed to timely respond to requests from Bar Counsel?

Holding: Rather than attempt to distinguish between degrees of intentional dishonesty based upon convictions, testimonials or other factors, the Court considers intentional dishonest conduct to be closely entwined with the most important matters of basic character to such a degree as to make intentional dishonest conduct by a lawyer almost beyond excuse. Because honesty and dishonesty are, or are not, present in an attorney's character, the Court held that disbarment ordinarily should be the sanction for intentional dishonest conduct and imposed it in this case.

Alleged Violations: Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct ("MLRPC") 1.15(a), (c) and (e) (Safekeeping Property); 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation); 5.3 (a), (b) and (c) (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants); 7.3(a) (Direct Contact with Prospective Clients); 8.1(a) and (b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters); and 8.4 (a), (b), (c), and (d) (Misconduct).

Citation:  448 Md. 1 (2016)