The Lawyer's Lawyer
A Long Wait to Reinstate
Issue: Sidelined for over two years on what was supposed to be a two-month suspension, should an attorney who exercised good faith in complying with Bar Counsel be reinstated?
Discussion: On Jul 17, 2019, the Court of Appeals imposed a 60-day suspension upon an attorney who represented a married couple in obtaining permanent residency for one of the spouses, but later advised one spouse on bringing criminal charges against the other, failed to advise him of his options in removing conditions on his permanent resident status within sufficient time to do so, settled a fee dispute in return for a release without advising his client to seek independent counsel, and testified under oath that he usually complied with IOLTA rules when, in fact, he did not.
While settlement of a fee dispute was also improper and he did give misleading testimony under oath, the Court rejected Bar Counsel's call for an indefinite suspension of a lawyer who did not harm his clients, misappropriate any funds or have any history of discipline. Writing for a four-judge majority, Judge Robert McDonald believed that the Court could protect the public "without sidelining for an indefinite period an attorney who has no other record of discipline and who serves a vulnerable class of clients of moderate means." Bar Counsel nonetheless opposed his reinstatement after sidelining him for 878 days.
Argued: January 10, 2022
Decision: Reinstatement Granted, January 14, 2022