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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Attorney Grievance Comm’n v. Smith, — A.3d —, 2015 WL 737412 (Md. Feb. 23, 2015).

March 20, 2015

Attorney Grievance Comm’n v. Smith, — A.3d —, 2015 WL 737412 (Md. Feb. 23, 2015).  The Attorney Grievance Commission (“Commission”), filed a Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action against a former assistant state’s attorney (ASA) alleging that he violated Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct (MLRPC) 1.3 (diligence), 3.3 (candor toward a tribunal), and 8.4(a), (c), and (d) (misconduct) when he failed to communicate at all with the victim or victim’s representative in a child sexual abuse case he prosecuted, which was an evasion of the former ASA’s constitutional and statutory obligations under the state’s victims’ rights laws.  A disciplinary hearing was held and the hearing judge concluded that the former ASA had violated MLRPC 1.3, but had not violated MLRPC 3.3 or 8.4.  The Commission took exception to the hearing judge’s conclusion and appealed.  The Court of Appeals concluded that although the former ASA did not purposefully deprive the child-victim of notice and information, the consistent failure to ensure that the appropriate information and notices were provided to the victim and her foster mother, among other things, was prejudicial to the administration of justice.  The court noted that the child-victim and victim’s representative were denied their right to observe and perhaps participate in the case, and the sentencing court was denied the child-victim’s input into the sentencing decision.  The court concluded that the former ASA failed to act with the reasonable diligence expected of a member of the bar and that his misconduct prejudiced the administration of justice in violation of MLRPC 1.3 and 8.4(d).  The court suspended him indefinitely from the practice of law, with the right to re-apply no sooner than 60 days from the date suspension begins.