Friday, November 16, 2018
The Maryland Court of Appeals has disbarred an attorney
Court of Appeals disbarred lawyer who failed to order transcripts that were necessary for appeal to proceed, failed to advise client to do so, and failed to file timely motion for extension of time to file transcripts, resulting in appeal’s dismissal; completely failed to accomplish objectives of his representation of client in appeal; did not advise client of deadline for ordering transcripts, his failure to meet it, his failure’s possible consequences, and show cause order that Court of Special Appeals issued; failed to comply with client’s requests for copies of certain documents; failed to communicate, before or during his representation, that he would charge hourly rate; collected, and failed to earn or refund, $6,200 that client paid him; withdrew unearned funds from, and failed to deposit unearned funds into, his attorney trust account; falsely represented to Court of Special Appeals that there had been delay in ordering transcripts because he had not received client’s case file from her previous counsel; falsely represented to Bar Counsel that he had advised client to order transcripts, that she had never paid him so that he could order transcripts, and that Court of Special Appeals had dismissed appeal because client had failed to order transcripts; and falsely represented to client that she was responsible for appeal’s dismissal.
Shannan Martin retained Andrew Ndubisi Ucheomumu, Respondent, a member of the Bar of Maryland, to represent her in an appeal. For an appeal to proceed, transcripts of relevant proceedings in the trial court need to be ordered by a certain deadline. In this case, after the deadline passed, Ucheomumu requested from Martin money to cover the cost of obtaining transcripts, and she paid him $3,000. Ucheomumu, however, never ordered the transcripts or advised Martin to do so. The Court of Special Appeals issued an order directing Martin to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file the transcripts. Ucheomumu filed a motion for extension of time to file the transcripts in which he falsely stated that one of the reasons why there had been a delay in filing the transcripts was that Martin’s previous counsel had not provided him with them.
Martin terminated Ucheomumu’s representation. Although Ucheomumu had not earned the total of $6,200 that Martin had paid him, he did not refund the $6,200. Additionally, after the Court of Special Appeals denied the motion for extension of time and dismissed the appeal, Ucheomumu falsely advised Martin that she was responsible for the appeal’s dismissal. Martin filed a complaint against Ucheomumu with Bar Counsel. In his response to Martin’s complaint, Ucheomumu falsely stated that he had advised Martin to order the transcripts, that she had never paid him so that he could order the transcripts, and that the Court of Special Appeals had dismissed the appeal because Martin had failed to order the transcripts.
The court was unanimous in an opinion authored by Judge Watts. (Mike Frisch )