Thursday, March 20, 2008
The Maryland Court of Appeals suspended a lawyer in 1998 and ordered reinstatement in 2006. Bar Counsel, who neither supported or opposed reinstatement, advised the court of pending litigation involving the petitioner (which is what a lawyer seeking reinstatement is called). Shortly after the order, opposing counsel in the litigation filed a motion to strike (meaning, I assume, vacate) the order granting reinstatement. Counsel alleged that Bar Counsel did not communicate with him about representations that the litigation likely would settle.
The court held that only Bar Counsel may file a motion to vacate a reinstatement order. "This is logical and appropriate...[as such motions are part] of this Court's regulation of the legal profession, specifically, its regulation and oversight of attorney discipline, in which Bar Counsel necessarily plays a critical and extensive role. As a result, Bar Counsel has been charged with duties and given power necessary, to perform that role." If there is a basis to proceed against the lawyer, it is Bar Counsel who must investigate and determine whether action against the reinstated attorney is appropriate. (Mike Frisch)