Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The Maryland Court of Appeals reaffirmed its intolerant attitude toward conduct involving serious dishonesty in a reciprocal discipline matter from Texas.
The attorney had been issued a judgment of public reprimand for litigation misconduct that involved a document attached to a motion to supplement the summary judgment record. The document appeared to have an original signature page from 2000. The document had been signed the night before the summary judgment hearing in 2005. The date was a material issue in the case. Six weeks later, the attorney disclosed this to opposing counsel in a discovery response.
The court noted here that "we are prone, but not required, to impose the same sanction as the original jurisdiction imposed." Here, the misrepresentations to a court were deemed "exceptional circumstances" that warranted a suspension. The court imposed a 45 day suspension, using as the closest comparison a case (Attorney Grievance Comm'n v. Rohrback, 591 A.2d 488) that I taught to my American Legal Profession class last night.
Chief Judge Bell dissented and would impose the same sanction as that in Texas.
Both majority and dissenting opinions note that the attorney has never practiced in Maryland. He was a federal employee when admitted in Maryland and moved to Texas several years later. When asked at oral argument why he maintained his Maryland Bar membership, he stated:
In all due respect, I kept my Maryland Bar membership, [because] it wasn't expensive to keep up. The CLE requirements are far more significant in Texas, and, I mean, that's the honest [truth] why I kept it. I have it on my resume.