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Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Landau

Court of Appeals of Maryland

April 21, 2014

ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND
v.
LEE ELLIOTT LANDAU

Argued March 7, 2014.

Circuit Court for Montgomery County. Case No. 28464-M, Nelson W. Rupp, Jr., JUDGE.

SYLLABUS

Respondent, Lee Elliott Landau, violated Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3; 1.4; 1.15(a); 1.16(d); 8.1(b); 8.4(a), (b), (c), and (d); as well as Maryland Rule 16-609 and Maryland Code (1989, 2010 Repl. Vol.), § 10-306 of the Business Occupations and Professions Article. The violations stemmed from Respondent's failure to remit to his client any portion of collections he made on the client's behalf pursuant to a contingency fee agreement. The appropriate sanction for Respondent's violations is disbarment.

ARGUED BY Marianne J. Lee, Assistant Bar Counsel (Glenn M. Grossman, Bar Counsel, Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland) FOR PETITIONER.

ARGUED BY No argument on behalf of respondent, FOR RESPONDENT.

ARGUED BEFORE: Barbera, C.J., Harrell, Battaglia, Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, JJ. Opinion by Barbera, C.J.

OPINION

Page 1108

[437 Md. 643] Barbera, C.J.

Petitioner, the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland, acting through Bar Counsel, filed with this Court a Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action against Respondent, attorney Lee Elliott Landau, on February 22, 2013. See Md. Rule 16-751(a). The petition alleged violations of the Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct (" MLRPC" ) in connection with Respondent's agreement to pursue his client's delinquent accounts receivable on a contingency fee basis and subsequent failure to remit to that client any portion of the funds he collected on the client's behalf. Specifically, the petition alleged that Respondent violated MLRPC 1.3 (diligence)[1]; MLRPC 1.4(a) and (b) (communication)[2]; MLRPC 1.15(a) (safekeeping property)[3]; MLRPC 1.16(d) [437 Md. 644] (declining or terminating representation)[4]; MLRPC 8.1(a) and (b) (bar admission and

Page 1109

disciplinary matters)[5]; [437 Md. 645] MLRPC 8.4(a), (b), (c), and (d) (misconduct)[6]; Maryland Rule 16-609 (prohibited transactions)[7]; Maryland Code (1989, 2010 Repl. Vol.), § 10-306 of the Business Occupations and Professions Article (hereinafter " BOP" ) (misuse of trust money)[8]; and BOP § 10-606(b) (penalties).[9]

On March 1, 2013, we designated the Honorable Nelson W. Rupp, Jr., of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County (" the hearing judge" ) to conduct an evidentiary hearing and render written findings of fact and conclusions of law. See Md. Rules 16-752(a) and 16-757(c). Respondent did not file a response to the Petition, timely or otherwise. Accordingly, on June 20, 2013, the hearing judge entered a default order against Respondent and the matter was set for a hearing on July 29, 2013. Respondent, notified of the default order and hearing [437 Md. 646] date, neither moved to vacate the order nor appeared at the hearing. During the July 29 hearing, the hearing judge received evidence from Petitioner, acting through Assistant Bar Counsel. Thereafter, the hearing judge issued written findings of fact and conclusions of law, in which he concluded, by clear and convincing evidence, that Respondent had violated MLRPC 1.3; MLRPC 1.4; MLRPC 1.15(a); MLRPC 1.16(d); MLRPC 8.1(b); MLRPC 8.4(a), (b), (c), and (d); Maryland Rule 16-609; BOP § 10-306; and BOP § 10-606.

On March 7, 2014, we held oral argument, at which only Petitioner, acting through Assistant Bar Counsel, appeared. That day, we entered a per curiam ...


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