Saturday, February 10, 2018

Can Bar Counsel Be Compelled To Investigate Alleged Misconduct?

An oral argument worth watching in the Maryland Court of Appeals on March 2

No. 64 Attorney Grievance Commission, et al. v. Ty Clevenger

Issues – Courts & Judicial Proceedings – 1) Did the trial court err in issuing a writ of mandamus directing Petitioner to investigate a complaint against three members of the Maryland Bar where exclusive jurisdiction over attorney disciplinary matters is vested in the Court of Appeals and Bar Counsel has discretion to determine whether an investigation is warranted? 2) Did the trial court err in vacating its prior order sealing the proceedings where Md. Rule 19-711 expressly provides that all attorney disciplinary complaints and investigations are confidential unless and until formal charges are brought against an attorney?

Attorney for Appellant: Michele J. McDonald
Attorney for Appellee: Ty Clevenger

Our prior coverage is linked here.

The bar case involving a convicted attorney is scheduled for March 1.

The crime and sentence was reported by The Daily Progress

A former high school teacher was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to breaking into House Minority Leader David J. Toscano’s home in February and assaulting his wife.

Claire Ogilvie, 36, pleaded guilty Friday to breaking and entering, malicious wounding and abduction by force or intimidation. She was sentenced to 50 years in prison, with all but four suspended.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors removed a clause stating Ogilvie had a deadly weapon from the breaking and entering charge. If convicted on the charge as it originally stood, Ogilvie faced up to a life sentence.

Upon release from prison, Ogilvie must leave the state and live at least 100 miles from Charlottesville. Barring an emergency, she cannot stop within 100 miles of the city.

Judge John R. Cullen, a retired judge from Louisa, also stipulated that she will be on supervised probation indefinitely and must remain on good behavior for 30 years following release.

Fluvanna County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip, who was brought in as special prosecutor, said Toscano and his wife, Nancy Tramontin, were happy with the sentence and it “gave them the best piece of mind.”

Toscano and Tramontin were not in court Friday.

Ogilvie met Toscano and Tramontin in 2010 during a Semester at Sea cruise, a study-abroad program sponsored by the University of Virginia. She became friends with the family and then moved to Charlottesville, where she tutored their son, Haislip said in court.

The family became uncomfortable with Ogilvie during the next few months and asked her to stay away, Haislip said. Almost two years later, Ogilvie broke into the family home and attacked Tramontin.

Tramontin left her house for about half an hour to take her son to practice. The door to the house was unlocked when she returned, but Tramontin thought she could have left it that way, Haislip said.

Inside the house, smoke detectors started beeping and wouldn’t stop, as if the batteries were dying, and this led Tramontin to check the basement. Once Tramontin reached the basement, she was jumped from behind and pushed to the ground, Haislip said. Her hands were tied behind her back with a soft material, possibly a cloth.

Ogilvie told Tramontin to stay on the floor and started questioning her, at one point striking her head multiple times with a pipe that had a faucet handle attached to it, causing Tramontin’s face to bleed, Haislip said.

At some point, Ogilvie tried to get her to go to the laundry room and Tramontin refused. Tramontin bit Ogilvie’s finger hard, causing Ogilvie to lose her grip on the pipe. Haislip said Tramontin was able to get the weapon and hit Ogilvie on the head.

Ogilvie’s demeanor then changed and Tramontin was able to talk her down by saying she could be part of the family again. He said Tramontin wanted Ogilvie to leave before her son came home.

The women cleaned up and Ogilvie left. Once Tramontin’s son was home, they went to the emergency room, as she was bleeding profusely.

Haislip said Ogilvie didn’t have permission to be in the house and authorities later found photographs that proved she had broken in before. He said she either came in with a key from when she watched their house while still on good terms, or through an open window in the basement.

 Ogilvie told police she was invited and even picked up by Tramontin, Haislip said. Ogilvie had said Tramontin hit her own head on a bathtub by choice and bit Ogilvie when she tried to get her to stop, Haislip said.

Ogilvie’s attorney, Adam Rhea, said he would have been able to dispute some of the facts had the case gone to trial.

Ogilvie didn’t make a statement when the judge gave her the opportunity. But she did adamantly maintain that she’s not guilty. In what’s known as an Alford plea, she pleaded guilty because of the overwhelming evidence against her but maintains her innocence.

A full psychological exam showed Ogilvie shouldn’t be an issue in the future, Haislip said.

Ogilvie has remained at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail without bond since her arrest hours after the attack and was in a jumpsuit during court. Cullen said she will be credited for the time she already has served.

Ogilvie is a Yale University graduate and former patent attorney who left the legal world in 2011 for a career as a teacher.

She taught science at the private Peabody School in Albemarle County for a year before moving to William Monroe High School in Greene County. She was midway through her first year teaching at the new school when she was arrested.

(Mike Frisch)

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