December 3, 2015.
Circuit Court for Montgomery County. Case No. 30739-M.
C.J., Battaglia, Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, Harrell,
Jr., Glenn T. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ. Opinion by
Md. 357]Greene, J.
Vincent Williams (" Respondent" ) was admitted to
the Bar of this Court on June 21, 1995. At all times relevant
to this case, he resided in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland, ("
Petitioner" ), by Glenn M. Grossman, Bar Counsel, and
Lydia E. Lawless, Assistant Bar Counsel, filed a Petition for
Disciplinary Or. Remedial Action against Respondent and after
the [446 Md. 358] disciplinary hearing recommended that we
disbar him for violating the Maryland Lawyers' Rules of
Professional Conduct (" MLRPC" ). The petition
alleged that Respondent, based on his representation of
Leslie Valentine-Bowers, had violated several rules of the
MLRPC: Rule 1.1 (Competence), Rule 1.2 (Scope of
and Allocation of Authority Between Client and
Lawyer), Rule 1.3 (Diligence), Rule 1.4 (a)
and (b) (Communication), Rule 3.2 (Expediting
Litigation), Rule 3.3 (Candor Toward the
Tribunal), Rule 8.1 (Bar [446 Md. 359] Admission
and Disciplinary Matters) and Rule 8.4 (a), (b), (c) and (d)
Court, by an Order dated February 10, 2015, transmitted the
action to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County and
designated the Honorable Cheryl A. McCally of that court to
make findings of fact and recommended conclusions of law. The
hearing judge scheduled hearings on May 13, and June 25,
2015. Respondent failed to appear. On May 21, 2015, the
hearing judge entered an Order of Default against Respondent
for failure to respond to the Petition For Disciplinary or
Remedial Action. Respondent failed to take any
action to vacate the Order of Default or to participate in
the disciplinary proceedings.
Md. 360] Judge McCally accepted fully Petitioner's
proposed " Factual findings and Conclusions of
Law." Neither party filed exceptions to Judge
McCally's written factual findings and legal conclusions.
In addition, Respondent failed to offer any recommendation
contrary to Petitioner's written recommendation for
disbarment. Under the circumstances, Judge McCally's
findings were not clearly erroneous, and her conclusions of
law were supported by clear and convincing evidence. We
disbarred Respondent in a per curiam order issued December 3,
2015. Attorney Grievance Comm'n v. Williams, 445
Md., 323, 126 A.3d 1162 (2015). In this opinion, we explain
hearing judge determined that at some point in 2008, Leslie
Valentine-Bowers lost vision in her right eye. She claimed
that her lost vision was attributable to the negligence of
her medical providers. On May 22, 2008, Respondent met with
Ms. Valentine-Bowers to discuss her claim. As a result of
that meeting, Respondent agreed to represent Ms.
Valentine-Bowers [446 Md. 361] and " assured [her] that
she had a good case." They entered into a written
agreement, " entitled 'Legal Representation
Agreement,'" whereby Respondent agreed to represent
Ms. Valentine-Bowers " in the resolution of all claims
arising from healthcare performed by Drs. Moffett and
Phillips including any negotiations or subsequent
litigation." Under the terms of their written agreement,
Respondent promised that he " would promptly notify her
of all significant developments and keep her informed about
the status of her case." Ms. Valentine-Bowers further
agreed " to pay the Respondent 33.3% of any recovery if
resolved prior to filing a complaint and 45% of any recovery
after a complaint had been filed."
two years after agreeing to represent Ms. Valentine-Bowers,
Respondent initiated a medical malpractice claim on behalf of
his client. The hearing judge further found:
On January 27, 2010, the Respondent, on behalf of Ms.
Valentine-Bowers filed a Statement of Claim with the Maryland
Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution
Office. On March 23, 2010, the Respondent filed a complaint
in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County against
Flora Feldman, O.D., Flora Feldman and Associates, Inc. and
Nicole 1 Moffett, O.D. On September 14, 2010, the
Respondent filed a second complaint in the Circuit Court for
Prince George's County against The Retina Group of
Washington, P.C. (hereinafter " TRG" ). The
Respondent failed to serve either of the complaints on any of
the defendants for over a year. On September 12, 2011, the
court consolidated the two cases.
1Flora Feldman, O.D. and Flora Feldman and
Associates, Inc. were eventually voluntarily dismissed.
On November 4, 2011, TRG was served. On December 2, 2011, Dr.
Moffett was served. TRG filed a timely Answer and propounded
Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents on
November 30, 2011. Dr. Moffett filed a [446 Md. 362] timely
Answer and propounded Interrogatories and Request for
Production of Documents on December 20, 2011.
The Respondent received TRG's written discovery on or
about November 30, 2011 and Dr. Moffett's written
discovery on or about December 20, 2011. Pursuant to Maryland
Rules 2-241(b) and 2-422(c), discovery responses were due
December 30, 3011 and January 29, 2012, respectively.
On January 31, 2012, having heard nothing from the
Respondent, Dr. Moffet's counsel wrote to the Respondent
and requested the discovery responses be provided within ten
(10) days. The Respondent responded and asked for a two-week
extension of time. On February 29, 2012, having heard nothing
from the Respondent, TRG's counsel wrote to the
Respondent and inquired when the discovery responses would be
provided and asked for available dates for Ms.
Valentine-Bowers' deposition. The Respondent failed to
respond in any manner.
Between November 30, 2011 and March 2, 2012, the Respondent
made no effort to contact Ms. Valentine-Bowers regarding the
discovery requests and made no effort to draft responses to
interrogatories or document requests. On May 2, 2012, the
Respondent, for the first time, contacted Ms.
Valentine-Bowers about the discovery requests. He forwarded
copies of the interrogatories to her by email and asked her
to 'forward [her] answer . . . at [her] earliest
opportunity.' The Respondent did not advise Ms.
Valentine-Bowers that the deadline for responding to
discovery had passed or that TRG had requested available
dates for her deposition. On March 7, 2012, Dr. Moffett's
counsel wrote to the Respondent and requested [that]
responses to discovery be provided in ten (10) days. The
Respondent failed to respond in any manner. On March 15,
2012, TRG's counsel sent a second letter to the
Respondent regarding the overdue discovery and warned that if
responses were not received by March 23, 2012, he would file
a motion with the court and unilaterally note Ms.
Valentine-Bowers' deposition. On April 27 and 30, 2012,
TRG's counsel called the Respondent. The Respondent
failed to respond in any [446 Md. 363] manner to the March 23
letter or subsequent phone calls from TRG's counsel.
On May 4, 2012, Dr. Moffett's counsel `attempted to reach
the Respondent by telephone and, unable to reach him
directly, left a voice-mail message advising that a motion to
compel would be filed if the discovery responses were not
by May 7, 2012. The Respondent did not respond to the
voice-mail. On May 3, 2012, TRG filed a Motion to Compel and
on May 4, 2012, TRG noted Ms. Valentine-Bowers'
deposition for July 6, 2012. On May 8, 2012, Dr. Moffett
filed a Motion to Compel.
Between May 2, 2012, the date he forwarded the
interrogatories to Ms. Valentine-Bowers, and May 11, 2012,
the Respondent made no effort to contact his client. On May
11, 2012, after TRG and Dr. Moffett had filed motions, the
Respondent forwarded the interrogatories to Ms.
Valentine-Bowers again and stated: 'Please see
below.' The Respondent did not advise his client that the
deadline to respond to discovery had passed, that Motions to
Compel had been filed or that her deposition had been noted
for July 6, 2012. On May 15, 2012, Ms. Valentine-Bowers
provided her responses to interrogatories to the Respondent
by email and stated: " Let me know if you need more
hearing judge found the delays with regard to addressing the
discovery issues continued:
The Respondent did not respond in any manner to the Motions
to Compel. On May 31, 2012, the circuit court granted
TRG's Motion to Compel and ordered Ms. Valentine-Bowers
to provide answers to interrogatories and produce the
requested documents by June 18, 2012. The court warned that
failure to abide by the order may subject Ms.
Valentine-Bowers to sanctions and/or penalties. The court
denied Dr. Moffett's May 8 Motion because it did not
contain a Rule 2-431 Certificate. The Respondent did not
advise his client of the May 31 Order.
On June 5, 2012, Dr. Moffett filed a Second Motion to Compel
and attached a proper 2-431 Certificate. The Respondent [446
Md. 364] failed to respond to Dr. Moffett's Second Motion
to Compel. On June 27, 2012, having heard nothing from the
Respondent, TRG filed a Motion for Sanctions. On July 5,
2012, the circuit court granted Dr. Moffett's Second
Motion to Compel and ordered that Ms. Valentine-Bowers
provide full and complete Answers to Interrogatories and
produce all requested documents by or before July 12, 2012.
The court warned, again, that failure to comply could subject
Ms. Valentine-Bowers to sanctions. The judge's law clerk
personally called the Respondent and advised him of the
content of the July 12 Order. The Respondent failed to advise
his client of the July 12 Order.
hearing judge determined that " on July 6, 2012, counsel
for all defendants appeared for Ms. Valentine-Bower's
deposition as noted by TRG's counsel. Neither Respondent
nor Ms. Valentine-Bowers appeared." Ms.
Valentine-Bowers' failure to appear for her deposition
led to TRG filing, on July 9, 2012, a Supplemental Memorandum
in support of the Motion for Sanctions. This gave TRG an
additional reason to support its request for a dismissal of
Ms. Valentine-Bowers' complaint. The hearing judge
Between May 15, 2012, the date Ms. Valentine-Bowers provided
her draft answers to interrogatories to the Respondent, and
July 12, 2012, the Respondent made no effort to contact Ms.
Valentine-Bowers about her discovery responses or to finalize
answers to interrogatories or responses to document requests.
 On July 12, 2012, the deadline established by the July 5
Order, the Respondent mailed unexecuted Answers to
Interrogatories to Dr. Moffett and TRG. Also on July 12,
2012, the Respondent emailed the answers to interrogatories
to Ms. Valentine-Bowers and stated:
These are finally done. Sorry for the delay, but we had some
computer issues over here. Anyway, please read through both
sets and make sure they are accurate and correct to the best
of your knowledge and belief. If so, please sign the
signature pages (the very last page of each document), and
e-mail or fax  the signed signature [446 Md. 365] pages
back to me. If you have any minor corrections, please mark
them on the document and also send those corrected pages with
the signature pages.
If you have any questions regarding anything, please give me
a call on my cell . Thank you.
Counsel for Dr. Moffett and TRG received the unexecuted
answers on July 17, 2012. Also on July 17, 2012, the
Respondent mailed the signature page to opposing counsel.
After receiving the unexecuted, undated responses, TRG and
Dr. Moffett consolidated all grounds for dismissal into one
motion entitled Defendants' Joint Motion for Sanctions
(hereinafter Joint Motion) which was filed on July 20, 2012.
The Respondent failed to advise his client of the Joint
Motion. On or about August 10, 2012 the Respondent filed an
Opposition to the Joint Motion. In the Opposition, the
Respondent knowingly and intentionally misrepresented to the
circuit court that 'the delay in generating discovery was
due to Plaintiffs Counsel's inability to make contact
with the Plaintiff and was not intentional or
On October 5, 2012, a hearing was held on the Joint Motion.
At the hearing, the Respondent made the following knowing and
intentional misrepresentations to the court:
o I was not able to [provide discovery to the defendants]
because I was not able to communicate with my client.
She's been, we'd been unable to communicate with her
for months until finally she called me, and I said, where
have you been, I've been trying to get a hold of you. She
said, oh, you know, I didn't know. I said well, you know,
have your numbers changed? She said, yes. I said has your
e-mail changed? She said, no. I said, well, I've sent you
numerous e-mails, I said, what's going on with that? She
said, well, I didn't get them. Maybe they went to my spam
folder, and she never confirmed whether they did or
didn't go to her spam folder, she just said she had never
received them. And then ultimately, we drafted up the answers
to the written discovery as soon as we could.
[446 Md. 366] o The initial answers to interrogatories were
sent out inadvertently without the signature page and that
Ms. Valentine-Bowers did not appear for her scheduled
deposition because the Respondent didn't know where she
o Unfortunately, [Ms. Valentine-Bowers] was out of
communication with her counsel for some time. But as soon as
I got a hold of her, she cooperated. She's in full
cooperation. I have all of her contact information at this
time, and we're prepared to appear for a deposition as
early as this coming week to get this case moving along.
Contrary to the Respondent's statements, Ms.
Valentine-Bowers maintained the same mailing address, email
address and phone number during the pendency ...