Monday, February 24, 2014

Proceed Pro Se At Own Risk

The Maryland Court of Appeals has held that two marital settlement agreements were noy viodable because the pre se husband did not give an informed written consent, in writing, to his wife's attorney's adverse representation in connection with the drafting of the agreements.

Even if the attorney's conduct violated conflict of interest ethical rules, the court found no basis for relief:

In what was described by the trial court judge who heard Husband’s Motion to Set Aside Marital Settlement Agreements as "a case of buyer’s remorse," Petitioner Shih Ping Li ("Husband") asks us to hold that two marital settlement agreements, executed by him and Tzu Lee ("Wife") in 2005 and 2008, are voidable at his demand. Husband grounds his demand before us on the contention that an attorney, Yu Gu ("Gu"), who assisted the couple earlier in obtaining permanent resident status for Wife in the United States and subsequently served largely as scrivener as to the settlement agreements negotiated between Husband and Wife, violated Rule 1.7, or, in the alternative, Rule 1.9, of the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct ("MLRPC"), by failing to obtain Husband’s informed consent, confirmed in writing, to her representation of Wife in connection with the two marital settlement agreements. We hold that, on this record, even assuming (without deciding) that a violation of either MLRPC 1.7 or 1.9 occurred, sufficient grounds to render the agreements voidable are not present.

The husband was a sophisticated party who had had the advice of counsel in connection with a similar agreement with a prior spouse, the agreements advised him of his right to seek the advice of independent counsel prior to signing and "the record revealed no clear example of the adverse use of any of the husband's assertedly confidential information." (Mike Frisch)

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