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Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Blair

Court of Appeals of Maryland

October 28, 2014

ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND
v.
FLOYD REYNARD BLAIR

Argued: September 3, 2014

Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland Case No. 29316-M

Barbra, C.J. Harrell Battaglia Greene Adkins McDonald Watts, JJ.

OPINION

BATTAGLIA, J.

Floyd Reynard Blair, Respondent, was admitted to the Bar of this Court on June, 19, 2002. On September 30, 2013, the Attorney Grievance Commission, ("Petitioner" or "Bar Counsel"), acting pursuant to Maryland Rule 16-751(a), [1] filed a "Petition For Disciplinary or Remedial Action" against Respondent, related to a complaint filed by Ms. Cheryl Nelson, which involved Respondent's acceptance of a $1, 500.00 retainer from her, Respondent's failure to competently represent her and Respondent's abandonment of her as a client. Petitioner alleged that Respondent violated the following Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct ("Rule"): 1.1 (Competence), [2] 1.3 (Diligence), [3] 1.4(a)(2) (Communication), [4] 1.5(a) (Fees), [5] Rule 1.15(a) and (c) (Safekeeping Property), [6] 1.16(d) (Declining or Terminating Representation), [7] and 8.4(a), (c) and (d) (Misconduct).[8]

In an Order dated October 1, 2013, we referred the matter to Judge Robert A. Greenberg of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County for a hearing, pursuant to Rule 16-757.[9] Respondent was personally served with the Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action, our Order, the Writ of Summons, Interrogatories, a Request for Production of Documents, and a Request for Admission of Facts and Genuineness of Documents, but did not file a response to the Petition, to the discovery requests, or to the Requests for Admission. Bar Counsel filed a Motion for an Order of Default on January 13, 2014, which was granted. A hearing was set for March 5, 2014, but was continued to enable Respondent to move to vacate the default, should he choose to do so, which he did not. A hearing, which Respondent did not attend, was held on March 25, 2014. After the hearing, Judge Greenberg issued Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in which he found, by clear and convincing evidence, that Respondent violated all the Rules alleged by the Petitioner: Rules 1.1, 1.3, 1.4(a)(2), 1.5(a), 1.15(a) and (c), 1.16(d), and 8.4(a), (c) and (d) of the Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct.

Judge Greenberg made the following findings regarding Respondent's background and representation of Ms. Nelson:

On or about November 10, 2011, Complainant Cheryl A. Nelson retained Respondent for representation in a family law custody case, Troy D. Nelson, Sr. v. Cheryl A. Nelson, Case No. 24D11003128 in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Ms. Nelson paid Respondent $1, 500.00 in furtherance of that representation.
Despite the agreement to represent Ms. Nelson, Respondent provided no services of value whatsoever in furtherance of the representation and ultimately abandoned the representation.
By the time Ms. Nelson retained Respondent, an order of default had been entered against her. Respondent filed a motion to vacate the order of Default, but the Court rejected this motion because the attorney appearance fee ($20.00) was not paid and because the certificate of service did not address plaintiff's counsel. Despite being informed of these omissions, Respondent never corrected them and never submitted an amended motion. Respondent also failed to appear for a subsequent hearing in Ms. Nelson's case on June 19, 2012, even though Ms. Nelson, upon receipt of the court's notice, promptly informed Respondent of the date. Thereafter, Respondent did nothing further in Ms. Nelson's case.
As a result of Respondent's failure to complete the representation, and more specifically, Respondent's failure to appear on June 19, 2012, Ms. Nelson contacted Respondent and terminated the representation. Ms. Nelson also requested that Respondent return the $1, 500.00. Although Respondent agreed to refund this amount, Respondent has never returned the $1, 500.00 to Ms. Nelson.
Respondent failed to maintain any records concerning his representation of Ms. Nelson. On December 18, 2012, Respondent stated to Edwin Karr, an Investigator with the Attorney Grievance Commission, that he has no records to demonstrate that he earned the $1, 500.00 or that the $1, 500.00 was reasonable. Respondent also stated to Mr. Karr that he no longer had Ms. Nelson's case file.
Respondent failed to deposit the $1, 500.00 into a trust account upon receipt. Respondent did not have Ms. Nelson's informed consent, confirmed in writing, to a different arrangement. Additionally, Respondent failed to perform any meaningful services in furtherance of the representation of Ms. Nelson to earn the $1, 500.00 fee.

Based upon these findings, Judge Greenberg determined that Respondent violated Rules 1.1, 1.3 and 8.4(a) and (d) by failing to perform legal work of value for ...


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