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Shirley M. Watts

Shirley M. Watts

Judge, Court of Appeals of Maryland

ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMM'N v. JEROME JOHNSON

Issue: What sanction should the Court impose upon an attorney who failed to diligently represent his client, failed to adequately communicate with his client, failed to take steps to protect his client's interests after representation ended, failed to respond to several of Bar Counsel's demands for information, and whose conduct was prejudicial to administration of justice?

Holding: After this lawyer defaulted by failing to respond to a Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action, he failed to present any mitigating evidence in response to charges that he similarly neglected his client's needs. By demonstrating a significant disregard for his obligations to his client and to Bar Counsel, his misconduct was severe enough to warrant a one-year suspension to deter future misconduct.

Alleged Violations: Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4(a)(2), 1.4(a)(3), 1.4(b) (Communication), 1.16(d) (Terminating Representation), 8.1(b) (Disciplinary Matters), 8.4(d) (Conduct that Is Prejudicial to Administration of Justice), and 8.4(a) (Violating MLRPC).

Citation: Misc. Docket AG No. 68