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Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Barneys

805 A.2d 1040 (2002)

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Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Barneys

Maryland Court of Appeals

805 A.2d 1040 (2002)

Facts

Attorney Bradford Barneys (defendant) was licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia, New York, and Connecticut. Barneys had also filed an application for a license to practice law in Maryland. While the Maryland application was pending, Barneys opened a law office in Maryland that included signs stating that he was an attorney. On his business cards and letterhead, Barneys listed the address as the law offices of Bradford Barneys without noting that he was not able to practice in Maryland. Barneys claimed that he performed most of his work in the District of Columbia during this time period. However, Barneys represented clients in Maryland courts on at least five occasions without either a Maryland license or special permission from the courts to appear without a Maryland license. One of these Maryland court appearances was for Santiago Sanchez, who had been arrested and was trying to post a $150,000 bond to get released. On Sanchez’s behalf, Barneys contacted a bail-bond company. Although Barneys represented Sanchez in only the criminal matter, Barneys led the bail-bond company to believe that he also represented Sanchez in a workers-compensation case in which Sanchez was going to receive a settlement in a few weeks. Barneys promised the bail-bond company that he would withhold $15,000 of Sanchez’s upcoming settlement to pay the company if it would post Sanchez’s bond. Based on this promise, the company paid to post Sanchez’s bond, and Sanchez was released. However, Barneys never mentioned the deal to the attorney who actually represented Sanchez in the workers-compensation case. Thus, when the attorney received Sanchez’s settlement payment, he released the full payment to Sanchez. The bail-bond company never received the promised $15,000. Further, Sanchez never showed up for trial, causing the bail-bond company to lose the $150,000 bond. The bail-bond company complained about Barneys to the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland (the commission) (plaintiff). The commission charged Barneys with the unauthorized practice of law as well as professional misconduct and dishonesty. The commission recommended that Barneys be disbarred from the Maryland bar. Barneys responded that he was deeply remorseful and that he believed a two-year suspension from being allowed to refile his Maryland bar application was a more appropriate sanction. The Maryland Court of Appeals reviewed the matter.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Harrell, J.)

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