Argued September 9, 2014.
Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. Case No. 02-C-13-177127. Laura S. Kiessling, JUDGE.
ARGUED BY Lydia E. Lawless, Assistant Bar Counsel (Glenn M. Grossman, Bar Counsel, Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland) FOR PETITIONER.
ARGUED BY Andrew J. Graham, Esquire (Kramon & Graham, P.A.) FOR RESPONDENT.
ARGUED BEFORE Barbera, C.J., Harrell, Battaglia, Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, JJ.
[441 Md. 594] Barbera, C.J.
On December 18, 2012, Petitioner, the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland, acting through Bar Counsel, filed with this Court a Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action (" Petition" ) against Respondent, attorney Scott Adams. The Petition was brought as a reciprocal discipline matter under Maryland Rules 16-773(b) and 16-751(a)(2). The filing of the Petition was precipitated by two disciplinary matters the Board of Overseers of the Maine Bar, through its Grievance Commission, had brought against Respondent. Both disciplinary matters related to a course of events stemming from Respondent's representation of a decedent's estate. The first action resulted in a warning to Respondent; the second resulted in a reprimand.
[441 Md. 595] The Petition alleges that Respondent's misconduct in Maine constitutes violations of several Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct (MLRPC): 1.1 (Competence), 1.2 (Scope of Representation and Allocation of Authority Between Client and Lawyer), 1.3 (Diligence), 1.4
(Communication), 1.16 (Declining or Terminating Representation), and Rule 8.4(a), [441 Md. 596] (c), and (d) (Misconduct). On December 19, 2012, we issued a show cause order directing Bar Counsel and Respondent to show cause as to why corresponding discipline should not be imposed by this Court. After receipt of the parties' responses to the show cause order, this Court transmitted the matter to a judge of the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County (" hearing judge" ) to hold an evidentiary hearing and issue findings of fact and recommended conclusions of law.
Our hearing judge held the hearing on September 9, 2013, and thereafter issued written findings of fact and conclusions of law. Both Respondent and Bar Counsel have filed exceptions. For reasons we shall explain, we overrule certain of the exceptions, sustain others, conclude that Respondent violated MRPC 1.1, 1.3, and 8.4(a), and, as a sanction for that misconduct, issue a reprimand.
[441 Md. 597] I.
At the outset of the September 9, 2013 hearing, Bar Counsel withdrew the allegations that Respondent violated MLRPC 1.2(a), 1.4, and 1.16(a), leaving standing only the allegations relating to MLRPC 1.1, 1.3, and 8.4(a), (c), and (d). Save for the testimony of Respondent, the parties' evidence was presented entirely through agreed-upon stipulations of fact and accompanying exhibits as well as the reports of ...