About the Author

Michele D. Hotten

Michele D. Hotten

Judge, Court of Appeals of Maryland


Issue: What sanction should the Court impose upon an attorney who failed to maintain an attorney trust account, failed to competently represent client in federal lawsuit, failed to clearly communicate billing structure to client, made an agreement with a client for an unreasonable fee, failed to hold third-party funds in trust, failed to properly terminate representation, presented frivolous arguments in a federal lawsuit, was sanctioned by a federal court, and failed to properly maintain records of client's payments to attorney and third-parties?

Holding: As a newly-admitted lawyer inexperienced in the unique challenges that confront solo practitioners, and those in private practice, generally, the Court found sufficient mitigating factors to justify an indefinite suspension with the right to apply for reinstatement after 90 days. As a condition of reinstatement, upon application, Respondent must provide the Attorney Grievance Commission and Bar Counsel with appropriate documentation showing the existence and maintenance of an attorney trust account.

Alleged Violations: Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.4(b), 1.5(a), 1.15(a) and (c), 1.16(d), 3.1, 3.4(a) and (d), 8.4(a) and (d), Maryland Rules 16-604 (now Maryland Rule 19-404) and 16-606.1 (now Maryland Rule 19-407), and Maryland Code (Repl. Vol. 2010), § 10-306 of the Business Occupations & Professions Article.

Citation: Misc. Docket AG No. 27