Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The Maryland Court of Appeals has ordered disbarment of an attorney for tax crimes
Among other things, an attorney is an “officer of the legal system and a public citizen.” If this is a special role in a nation that prides itself on the rule of law, then it entails a special responsibility to abide by the law. It also means that, when acting as an advocate, a lawyer must advance only arguments that are good faith interpretations of existing law or good faith efforts to change existing law. Fraudulent conduct and frivolous argument to avoid a civic obligation are antithetical to the lawyer’s role.
Respondent Michael Craig Worsham carved out a practice that concentrated in the private enforcement of federal and state laws prohibiting unsolicited faxes and telephone a role specifically provided in those statutes that augments public enforcement efforts and that is sometimes referred to as a “private attorney general." Mr. Worsham, however, proved to be less law-abiding in the conduct of his private affairs. As his practice grew more lucrative, he ceased to file income tax returns or pay income taxes. When detected, he attempted to justify his conduct with well-worn meritless arguments about the constitutionality and validity of the federal income tax – arguments that he repeated in his filings with us even after he had lost at every level in the federal courts and that, he ultimately conceded, had no bearing on his obligation to comply with State tax laws.
We hold that the willful failure to file income tax returns and pay income taxes, when done with fraudulent intent, merits disbarment.
The attorney was admitted in 1998 in Maryland.
He stopped paying state and federal taxes in 2005. When the IRS got on his trail, he engaged in concealment and raised frivolous claims in the courts. (Mike Frisch)