Justia Legal Ethics Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maryland Court of Appeals
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The Court of Appeals suspended Respondent, the Honorable Devy Patterson Russell, for six months without pay from her service as a judge of the district court and set conditions precedent to Respondent's reinstatement of her duties as a judge, holding that the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities' conclusion that Respondent committed sanctionable conduct was supported by clear and convincing evidence. In addition to other misconduct, Respondent failed to handle and process search warrant materials in a manner consistent with Maryland Rule 4-601 and internal courthouse procedures and failed to treat fellow judges and courthouse staff with dignity and respect. The Commission found that Respondent engaged in misconduct and recommended that she be suspended for six months without pay and that she take remedial measures to assist her when she returned to her duties. The Supreme Court agreed that Respondent committed sanctionable conduct and suspended her for six months without pay. View "In re Judge Russell" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether Honorable Mary C. Reese’s actions in two cases constituted sanctionable conduct under court rules and the circumstances presented. Judge Reese presided over two hearings at which Petitioners sought a protective order and a peace order. Judge Reese’s conduct during these hearings formed the basis of the complaints for judicial misconduct. The Commission of Judicial Disabilities determined that Judge Reese committed sanctionable conduct while presiding over the peace order hearing. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the Commission’s conclusion and dismissed the matter with prejudice, holding that Judge Reese’s exercise of judicial discretion did not constitute sanctionable conduct or violate Maryland Rule 18-101.1 or 18-102.5(a). View "In re Honorable Mary C. Reese" on Justia Law

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Although the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities violated applicable Maryland Rules in proceedings against Judge Pamela J. White, the violations did not ultimately deprive Judge White of a fundamentally fair proceeding. In 2015, the Commission concluded that probable cause existed to believe that Judge White had committee sanctionable conduct and filed public charges against Judge White. The Commission later publicly reprimanded Judge White by unanimous vote, concluding that Judge White violated the Maryland Code of Judicial Conduct. On appeal, Judge White alleged that the Commission denied her procedural due process. The Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that although the proceeding before the Commission contained several mistakes, Judge White received the fundamental due process protections under the Maryland Constitution and the Maryland Rules. View "In re Honorable Pamela J. White" on Justia Law

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After an investigation, the Commission on Judicial Disabilities found by clear and convincing evidence that Judge Pamela J. White had committed sanctionable conduct and that a public reprimand was the appropriate disposition under the circumstances. Judge white filed with the Court of Appeals an appeal and, in the alternative, a petition for writ of certiorari, seeking to have the Court review whether the Commission had denied her procedural due process and whether the Commission had erred in finding sanctionable conduct and reprimanding her. The Commission filed a motion to dismiss. The Court ordered that the matter be set for a show cause hearing for the limited purpose of addressing whether the Court of Appeals had jurisdiction to decide whether Judge White was denied procedural due process during the Commission proceedings. The Court of Appeals entered an order holding (1) this Court has authority to consider Judge White’s arguments as to whether the Commission proceeding accorded her with the due process required by the State Constitution and the Maryland Rules; but (2) the Court was not able at this time to conduct that review. View "In re Judge Pamela J. White" on Justia Law

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White, a member of the Bar of Maryland, represented Fleming and Sewell, while under a Conditional Diversion Agreement (CDA) with Bar Counsel for prior misconduct involving mismanagement of her attorney trust account. The CDA was amended, then subsequently revoked due to non-compliance. The Attorney Grievance Commission filed a Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action, based upon White’s representation of Fleming and Sewell, non-compliance with the CDA, and the mishandling of her trust account. Bar Counsel alleged that White violated Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule 1.1 (Competence), Rule 1.3 (Diligence), Rule 1.4(a) and (b) (Communication), Rule 1.15(a) and (d) (Safekeeping Property); 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation); 8.1(a) and (b) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters); and Rule 8.4(a), (c), and (d) (Misconduct). Bar Counsel also alleged that she violated Maryland Rules 16-606.1 (Attorney Trust Account Record-Keeping), 16-607 (Commingling of Funds), 16-609 (Prohibited Transactions), and Md. Code 10-306 of the Business Occupations & Professions Article (Misuse of Trust Money). White attributed her actions to illness, recuperation after surgery, and difficulties experienced as caretaker of her mother until her death. A hearing judge found multiple violations. Bar Counsel requested indefinite suspension with the right to apply for readmission after six months. The Maryland Court of Appeals agreed. View "Attorney Grievance Comm'n of Md. v. White" on Justia Law