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Repeat Offender Spared Disbarment

Despite three prior sanctions, including a prior suspension for similar misconduct, a five-judge majority rejected Bar Counsel's call for disbarment in a case involving the negligent mismanagement of client funds.

IssueWhat sanction should the Court impose upon an attorney who failed to maintain records accurately reflecting the status of his attorney trust account, commingled personal funds and client funds within the account, withdrew cash from the account, and created negative balances in multiple client accounts?

Holding: Although the Court did not believe that this attorney acted dishonestly, and there was no evidence that any client lost money as a result of his mismanagement, three prior disciplinary sanctions constituted an aggravating factor that precluded a reprimand or more limited suspension and a five-judge majority imposed an indefinite suspension.

Alleged Violations: Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1 (Competence); 8.1(b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters); 8.4(a) and (d) (Misconduct); Maryland Rule 16.606.1 (Attorney Trust Account Record-Keeping); Maryland Rule 16-607 (Commingling of Funds); Maryland Rule 16-609 (Prohibited Transactions); and Business Occupations and Professions Article § 10-306 (Misuse of Trust Money).

Argued: November 3, 2016

Decided: December 19, 2016

Read Opinion by Judge Sally Adkins

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Attorney Grievance defense attorney specializes in defending lawyers in disciplinary proceedings before the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission and the D.C. Bar's Board on Professional Responsibility involving professional misconduct, legal ethics, disbarment, suspensions of law licenses, petitions for disciplinary action, reprimands and sanctions for unethical conduct. If you receive a letter from Bar Counsel Lydia Lawless, Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox, or from any attorney disciplinary board in Maryland or the District of Columbia, retain experienced attorneys with expertise in lawyer discipline and breach of ethics cases to avoid sanctions for professional misconduct. We help lawyers avoid disbarment, suspension, reprimands, censure and informal admonitions by drafting responses to client grievances and ethical complaints; representing lawyers in peer reviews, evidentiary hearings, and oral arguments before the BPR and the Court of Appeals; filing petitions to reinstate an attorney's license to practice law; conducting law firm ethical compliance audits; and drafting legal ethics opinions to protect lawyers from ethics charges. In many cases, disciplinary proceedings may be dismissed, dismissed with a warning, or result in a conditional diversion agreement with Bar Counsel to rectify misconduct. Lawyers may need help in managing their law firm attorney escrow IOLTA trust account and complying with attorney trust accounting rules to avoid charges of ethical misconduct. Do not represent yourself in responding to an attorney grievance, law firm client complaint, or other allegation of ethical impropriety. Attorney grievance defense counsel may help you comply with legal ethics rules, avoid sanctions like suspension or disbarment, and avoid future attorney grievances.


By The Lawyer's Lawyers | Kramer & Connolly and Irwin R. Kramer who are responsible for the content of this informational website.   This website is designed for lawyers faced with attorney grievances. As cases do differ, past performance does not guarantee future results.