Monday, September 13, 2021
Bar Discipline On Trial
The Maryland Court of Appeals heard argument this morning in a case that raises some important questions about the conduct of investigation, prosecution and disposition of bar discipline matters
AG No. 9 (2020 T.) Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Dawn R. Jackson
Attorney for Petitioner: Lydia E. Lawless
Attorney for Respondent: Irwin R. Kramer
The case is fascinating.
Respondent is not and has never been a member of the Maryland Bar.
She had the misfortune to go into partnership with an attorney named Brynee Baylor, who was convicted of crimes in federal court and disbarred.
Editor's note: I was an expert witness on legal ethics for the United States in the Baylor trial.
Maryland investigated Baylor and met with Respondent. Respondent took Bar Counsel's advice about compliance with Maryland's rules regarding unauthorized practice in light of her "brick and mortar" office in Maryland.
Respondent also fully cooperated in the Baylor investigation.
Nonetheless, after the passage of several years and her relocation to the District of Columbia, Bar Counsel acted on an anonymous complaint and prosecuted her for a laundry list of ethics violations.
The trial judge soundly rejected Bar Counsel's numerous contentions and found two "technical" unauthorized practice violations in signing "lines" in Maryland cases a decade ago.
The judge also found that the Respondent had been deeply affected by the trauma of her partnership experience and its fallout.
Bar Counsel appealed.
The argument delves into the philosophy of attorney regulation and the appropriate role of disciplinary counsel in a way that few cases do.
It is worth the time to watch the video.
The link to the argument should appear here shortly. (Mike Frisch)