Thursday, July 28, 2022

Anti-Semitic Letter, Conflict Draws Indefinite Suspension

The Maryland Court of Appeals has indefinitely suspended an attorney for a conflict of interest and because she had

sent an antisemitic and highly offensive 20-page letter to a client and then later knowingly and intentionally misrepresented to Bar Counsel that she had sent the letter by mistake.

The client matter involved an employment dispute

The conflict

Ms. Maiden created a conflict of interest by making herself a co-claimant along with Mr. Riese for the purpose of asserting a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1981...

Ms. Maiden also created a conflict of interest by claiming a 50% share of any punitive damages Mr. Riese might obtain. Although a “reasonable contingent fee,” “subject to Rule []1.5,” is permitted as an exception to the general rule prohibiting an attorney from acquiring a proprietary interest in a cause of action, Md. Rule 1.8(i)(2), Ms. Maiden’s demand for a 50% share of any punitive damages award was premised at least in part on her status as a co-claimant with Mr. Riese—and her stated belief that she was a more appropriate recipient of those damages than he was—not on her legal work. Ms. Maiden thus violated Rules 1.7 and 1.8(i) by creating a conflict of interest without obtaining Mr. Riese’s written informed consent.

The letter

With respect to the antisemitic and highly offensive nature of Ms. Maiden’s statements, the excerpts recited above speak for themselves. The 20-page letter is laced with statements that are offensive, demeaning, personally insulting, profane, and premised on harmful religious, racial, and ethnic stereotypes.

Sanction

The Commission recommends that Ms. Maiden be indefinitely suspended from the practice of law. Ms. Maiden neither responded to that recommendation nor offered a contrary recommendation.

Prior cases involving epithets

we concluded that none of our precedents is directly analogous. Although the conduct in Markey carried on for a significantly longer period, the statements at issue there were directed only to like-minded co-workers and were never intended to be shared outside of that group. Ms. Maiden’s conduct was brief in time but extensive in volume and severity, and her offensive statements were sent to and intended to be read by their subject, who was also her client. It is also notable that neither Basinger nor Markey involved other violations, such as the significant conflict-of-interest, competence, and dishonesty violations at issue here, which further call into question Ms. Maiden’s fitness to represent clients at this time.

(Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2022/07/the-maryland-court-of-appeals-has-indefinitely-suspended-an-attorney-for-a-conflict-of-interest-and-because-she-had-sent-an.html

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