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Shirley M. Watts

Shirley M. Watts

Judge, Court of Appeals of Maryland


Issue: Did an attorney violate Rule 8.4 of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct when she transferred a handgun to a former client that she should have known could not legally possess a firearm?

Holding: By giving a handgun to a client despite information which cast doubt upon his lawful possession of a firearm, this lawyer's behavior was prejudicial to the administration of justice and was of the type that negatively impacts the public’s perception of the legal profession in violation of Rule 8.4. In reaching this conclusion, the Court took the unusual step of countermanding Bar Counsel's request that the case be dismissed. Since Bar Counsel had not previously recommended any sanction in a case that he wanted to dismiss, the Court ordered the parties to provide recommendations as to sanctions.

Alleged Violations: Rule 8.4 of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct.

Citation: 436 Md. 504, 83 A.3d 781 (2014)