Monday, April 25, 2011
An attorney who walked out of a proceeding involving a client charged with driving without a license was suspended for 60 days by the Maryland Court of Appeals.
The attorney and prosecutor both sought to continue the matter to allow the attorney's client to obtain a valid license. The judge denied the motion but agreed to pass the case. The parties sought to place the case on the stet docket so that the client could get the license. The judge denied the request.
The prosecutor refused to dismiss ther case. the attorney left the court, not to return, in violation of the judge's instructions. He also had the client depart. The judge held him in contempt of court.
According to the hearing judge, "[p]rior to the events...there was history between [the judge] and Respondent. It undoubtedly, but should not have, played a role in this incident. The Respondent appears to have wanted to prevail over [the judge] personally." The hearing judge found the conduct to be "annoying and disrespectful." The attorney advanced his own personal legal beliefs over the interests of his client:
Respondent ...told the prosecutor to play his role in allowing [him] to challenge the actions of the Court in order to allow himself the opportunity to fall upon his sword in support of a misperceived legal right. Having fallen upon his sword, Respondent nows complains that falling on his sword has painful consequences. He is now accountable in these proceedings for his conduct.
The court here found that the attorney showed no remorse in oral argument before it. His conduct caused bench warrants to be issued for the client. The court also considered the fact that the attorney was aware of the impropriety of his conduct, as he had represented a lawyer in a bar discipline case that the court cited in its sanction determination. (Mike Frisch)