Argued January 12, 2015
Circuit Court for Prince George's County. Case No. CAE13-23283.
For Petitioner: JaCina N. Stanton, Assistant Bar Counsel, Glenn M. Grossman, Bar Counsel, Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland.
For Respondent: Lance Butler III, Esquire, Washington, DC.
Barbera, C.J. Harrell, Battaglia, Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, JJ. Opinion by Greene, J. Watts, J., dissents.
[441 Md. 354]
On July 22, 2013, the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland (" Petitioner" or " Bar Counsel" ), acting pursuant to Maryland Rule 16-751(a), filed a " Petition For Disciplinary Or Remedial Action" against Lance Butler, III (" Respondent" or " Butler" ). Petitioner charged Respondent with violating Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct (" MLRPC" or " Rule" ) 8.1 (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters), and [441 Md. 355] 8.4(d) (Misconduct).
This Court referred the matter to the Honorable Beverly J. Woodard of the Circuit Court for Prince George's County for a hearing to render findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Md. Rule 16-757. Judge Woodard conducted an evidentiary hearing on January 15, 2014. Thereafter, Judge Woodard issued Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, in which she found, by clear and convincing evidence, that Respondent violated solely MLRPC 8.1. Judge Woodard set forth her findings as follows:
Findings of Fact
On December 11, 2007, Respondent was admitted to the Maryland Bar. He is also admitted to the District of Columbia Bar. Respondent is currently employed with the United States Agency for International Development (hereinafter " USAID" ) in Washington, DC. Respondent presently resides at his primary residence located at 2022 Trenton Place, Washington, DC 20020 (hereinafter " 2022 Trenton Place address" ). He has resided at the 2022 Trenton Place address since approximately 2006. Sometime in 2008, Respondent opened a law practice at 8957-A Edmonston Road, Greenbelt, Maryland. In 2011, Respondent closed his Greenbelt law office.
From March 2012 through February 2013, Petitioner mailed numerous letters to Respondent at both his 2022 Trenton Place address and his work address at USAID. Respondent denied receiving all but two of Petitioner's letters. Attorney Grievance Commission Investigator Robert Versis testified on behalf of Petitioner at Respondent's hearing. On August 13, 2012, Mr. Versis was assigned the investigation of this matter by Assistant Bar Counsel JaCina Stanton (hereinafter " Ms. Stanton" ). Shortly thereafter, Mr. Versis [441 Md. 356] visited the 2022 Trenton Place address several times and left a business card there.
Mr. Versis testified that beginning in early October 2012, he repeatedly called Respondent to inform him that a complaint had been filed against him and that Respondent was required to respond to the complaint. Mr. Versis did not reach Respondent in person, but left several messages on his USAID voicemail and his cell phone. Respondent testified during the hearing that the telephone numbers that Mr. Versis
called were his correct office and cell phone numbers in ...