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Shirley M. Watts

Shirley M. Watts

Judge, Court of Appeals of Maryland

ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMM'N v. THOMAS

Issue: What sanction should the Court impose upon an attorney who abandoned his representation of clients in two unrelated cases and dishonestly refrained from informing Bar Counsel that he had violated a conditional diversion agreement designed to address substance abuse problems? 

Holding: For the purpose of continuing to practice law, this lawyer dishonestly refrained from informing Bar Counsel that he was using alcohol and/or opiates and that, on two occasions, he had been discharged from a substance abuse program for failing to attend the required number of counseling sessions. Combined with his abandonment of clients, and absent any mitigating factors, this intentional dishonest conduct resulted in his disbarment.

Alleged Violations: Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct ("MLRPC") 1.1 (Competence), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4 (Communication), 1.5(a) (Unreasonable Fees), 1.16 (Declining or Terminating Representation), 8.1 (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), 8.4(c) (Dishonesty, Fraud, Deceit, or Misrepresentation), and 8.4(d) (Conduct That Is Prejudicial to the Administration of Justice).

Citation: 445 Md. 379, 127 A.3d 562