Maryland Court of Appeals Recent Opinions on Maryland Lawyer Misconduct

The Maryland Court of Appeals writes two opinions requiring disciplinary action of two Maryland lawyers. One involves parking tickets, marijuana, DUIs, and misleading the court. Here, the court finds some wrongdoing but mostly a lot of smoke but no clear and convincing evidence of a fire.

In the second, the court suspends a lawyer for two years under an incredibly common fact pattern: (1) married (almost invariably male) lawyer sleeps with the client, (2) cheats on the client with another client, (3) client finds out and calls Bar Counsel. The court ruled 4-3 to suspend the lawyer for two years. The dissent thought disbarment was the more appropriate sanction for the lawyer.

I think most anyone would agree this is actionable conduct, but the question is the penalty. It is amazing to me how your worldview impacts your view of these things. It really shouldn’t make a difference from an attorney grievance standpoint, but I think the fact that he is married is an aggravating factor. It would seem more innocuous to me if the lawyer were single. I also think a mitigating factor is that the client who brought the malpractice case against this lawyer has an Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction vibe. Again, this was irrelevant to the court in this case but pretty important on my scorecard.