Abysmal Lawyer Misconduct


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Abysmal Lawyer Misconduct

Some People Just Do Not Have a Radar For “Inappropriate”

The Maryland Court of Appeal has disbarred a lawyer after it found that he behaved entirely inappropriately in circumstances that amounted to “the last straw” in relation to his sexually-oriented misconduct in legal practice.

The lawyer was acting for a client in a child custody dispute and the mother was unrepresented. She was clearly in a financially disadvantaged position. She joked with the lawyer about needing a “sugar daddy” in passing given her predicament.

Whilst the lawyer later asserted he was joking, he offered to pair the woman with an acquaintance so as the woman could earn money in return for sex acts. He also went on to buy her props for swimsuit modelling and sought photos from her.

The Court appropriately determined that he had a responsibility in the process of the proper administration of justice to approach the self-represented woman in a manner without reproach and that he ought to have “walked on eggshells” in dealings with her. The Court also considered that one likely outcome was that the lawyer might have used the information to his client’s favour by inducing the woman to do something which could later be used to discredit her.

The lawyer’s endeavour to explain away the behaviour as a joke was affected by his prior conduct, which involved a late 2006 incident, where he was accused of sending a woman explicit text messages and touching her leg in a courthouse and also involved an early 2008 incident, where he allegedly gave a woman a Vicodin pill in exchange for a sex act.

It’s no surprise the Court ruled his behaviour abhorrent and disbarred him indefinitely.

The situation is unlikely to be different in Australia in any similar fact scenario – and we’re certainly glad for that.