Thursday, March 12, 2009
A four month delay in responding to Bar Counsel's repeated requests for information violates Maryland RPC 8.1(b). According to the headnote of the decision, the rule "does not require that a busy lawyer who is 'up to the elbows' in a trial or a transaction immediately 'drop everything' until completing his or her response...To comply with the requirements of [the] rule, the lawyer who receives a request from Bar counsel should (1) acknowledge receipt...(2) explain why he or she needs an extension of time to file a response, and (3) request that Bar Counsel consent to an extension for a reasonable period of time." The court imposed a reprimand.
A very interesting dissent disdains the "commingled" findings of fact and conclusions of law of the circuit court judge and would find other charged violations including failure to communicate. The dissent (joined by two other justices) characterizes the appropriate sanction for all the violations as a "difficult call." The justice writes: "Feeling a little like a forward observer calling in artillery fire on a target, I would suspend [the lawyer] indefinitely with a right to apply for reinstatement no sooner than 90 days following the date of the suspension." (Mike Frisch)