Articles Posted in Legal Ethics

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After an investigation, the Commission on Judicial Disabilities found by clear and convincing evidence that Judge Pamela J. White had committed sanctionable conduct and that a public reprimand was the appropriate disposition under the circumstances. Judge white filed with the Court of Appeals an appeal and, in the alternative, a petition for writ of certiorari, seeking to have the Court review whether the Commission had denied her procedural due process and whether the Commission had erred in finding sanctionable conduct and reprimanding her. The Commission filed a motion to dismiss. The Court ordered that the matter be set for a show cause hearing for the limited purpose of addressing whether the Court of Appeals had jurisdiction to decide whether Judge White was denied procedural due process during the Commission proceedings. The Court of Appeals entered an order holding (1) this Court has authority to consider Judge White’s arguments as to whether the Commission proceeding accorded her with the due process required by the State Constitution and the Maryland Rules; but (2) the Court was not able at this time to conduct that review. View "In re Judge Pamela J. White" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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White, a member of the Bar of Maryland, represented Fleming and Sewell, while under a Conditional Diversion Agreement (CDA) with Bar Counsel for prior misconduct involving mismanagement of her attorney trust account. The CDA was amended, then subsequently revoked due to non-compliance. The Attorney Grievance Commission filed a Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action, based upon White’s representation of Fleming and Sewell, non-compliance with the CDA, and the mishandling of her trust account. Bar Counsel alleged that White violated Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule 1.1 (Competence), Rule 1.3 (Diligence), Rule 1.4(a) and (b) (Communication), Rule 1.15(a) and (d) (Safekeeping Property); 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation); 8.1(a) and (b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters); and Rule 8.4(a), (c), and (d) (Misconduct). Bar Counsel also alleged that she violated Maryland Rules 16-606.1 (Attorney Trust Account Record-Keeping), 16-607 (Commingling of Funds), 16-609 (Prohibited Transactions), and Md. Code 10-306 of the Business Occupations & Professions Article (Misuse of Trust Money). White attributed her actions to illness, recuperation after surgery, and difficulties experienced as caretaker of her mother until her death. A hearing judge found multiple violations. Bar Counsel requested indefinite suspension with the right to apply for readmission after six months. The Maryland Court of Appeals agreed. View "Attorney Grievance Comm'n of Md. v. White" on Justia Law

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Wife and Husband married in 2003. In 2005 and 2008, Wife and Husband executed marital settlement agreements. In 2009, Husband filed a complaint for divorce, alleging that the separation agreements were voidable at his demand. In support of his demand, Husband argued that the attorney, who earlier assisted the Wife in obtaining permanent resident status and in the United States and largely served as scrivener to the settlement agreements, violated the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct by failing to obtain Husband’s informed consent to her representation of Wife in connection with the two settlement agreements. The circuit court held that the separation agreements were not voidable and entered a judgment of absolute divorce in which the separation agreements were incorporated. The intermediate appellate court affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that sufficient grounds to render the agreements voidable were not present in this case. View "Li v. Lee" on Justia Law

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Stillwell, admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1989, met the complainant, Akojie, a Maryland licensed real estate agent, in 2009 at a seminar he presented. In 2010 the two entered into a legal services agreement that involved formation of an LLC and transfer of assets from another business. Akojie gave Stillwell a personal check for $2,000, payable to him; Stillwell deposited the check in his personal checking account, rather than in his attorney trust account. Stillwell did not have an active attorney trust account. Stillwell’s communication with Akojie and work on the matters for which he was retained were “sporadic.” Akojie expressed her frustration with attempting to reach him and terminated the representation and requested a refund. He did not provide a refund until after he received notification of Akojie’s grievance. The Attorney Grievance Commission filed a petition for disciplinary or remedial action alleging violations of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct: 1.3, Diligence, 1.4, Communication, 1.15. The Maryland Supreme Court imposed a sanction of indefinite suspension fro the practice of law. View "Attorney Grievance v. Stillwell" on Justia Law