Friday, February 16, 2007

Contrasting Approaches

The Maryland Court of Appeals recently disbarred an attorney who had been admitted in 2001 for neglect and failure to respond to the ethics complaint. The court viewed disbarment as the only appropriate sanction for an attorney who appears to have abandoned the practice of law and failed to participate in the disciplinary process.

The decision calls to mind a question asked by an Associate Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals at an oral argument I attended last month. The question: would a lawyer be better off being prosecuted for an ethics violation in D.C. rather than Maryland? My answer: yes, indeedy. Maryland's relative toughness on ethics violations committed by lawyers stands in stark contrast to the D.C. Board's reflexively forgiving and lawyer-coddling attitude. If this attorney is also admitted in the District of Columbia, I'm taking bets that the D. C. Board will recommend lesser discipline as a reciprocal sanction.  Any takers?  (Mike Frisch)

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