October 6, 2016
Barbera, C.J. Greene Adkins McDonald Watts Hotten Getty, JJ.
Attorney Grievance Commission ("Commission")
initiated this reciprocal attorney discipline action against
Sandy F. Thomas-Bellamy based on discipline imposed on her
last year by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. That
court suspended her from the practice of law in the District
of Columbia for one year, with reinstatement conditioned on a
showing of fitness, for making a deliberate misrepresentation
in 2012 on her District of Columbia Bar application. In
accordance with Maryland Rule 19-737, we impose corresponding
discipline in Maryland - an indefinite suspension of Ms.
Thomas-Bellamy's license to practice law in Maryland with
the right to apply for reinstatement after one year. We do
not find exceptional circumstances that would justify, under
the rule, a greater or lesser sanction in Maryland.
Thomas-Bellamy was admitted to the Maryland Bar in June 1999.
She was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in November
this is a reciprocal discipline case emanating from the
District of Columbia, its genesis was a prior investigation
by the Commission into several complaints made by clients of
Ms. Thomas-Bellamy concerning her practice in Maryland. That
investigation resulted in disciplinary proceedings in
Maryland, as well as a reciprocal disciplinary action in the
District of Columbia Court of Appeals. It is the pendency of
that Maryland investigation - and specifically, Ms.
Thomas-Bellamy's failure to disclose it when she was
admitted to the District of Columbia Bar - that resulted in
both a second disciplinary proceeding in the District of
Columbia, and this proceeding in this Court.
Commission's Initial Investigation
2011 and early 2012, four of Ms. Thomas-Bellamy's
Maryland clients separately complained to the Commission
about the services she provided - or, more precisely, the
lack of services. The complaints had a common pattern. Each
client had asked Ms. Thomas-Bellamy to file a bankruptcy
petition on the client's behalf and had paid Ms.
Thomas-Bellamy money for filing fees and professional
services. Thereafter, Ms. Thomas-Bellamy did not promptly
file the bankruptcy petitions and failed to respond to
inquiries from the clients. The Commission launched an
Thomas-Bellamy Applies for Admission to the District of
January 9, 2012, Ms. Thomas-Bellamy submitted an application
for admission to the District of Columbia Bar. On that
application, she indicated that she had never been the
"subject of any charges, complaints, or grievances
(formal or informal) concerning [her] conduct as an attorney,
including any now pending, " and attested that all
information on the application was "true and
complete." From the record before us, there is no
indication that she knew about the Maryland client
complaints, or the Commission's investigation, at the
time she completed that application. However, it was not long
before she became aware of them.
14, 2012, Ms. Thomas-Bellamy signed a return receipt
indicating that she had received a letter from the Commission
regarding its investigation into the complaints of her
Maryland clients. Additionally, on June 25, 2012, she
responded to one of the client complaints in a letter to the
November 15, 2012, the day before she was to be sworn into
the District of Columbia Bar, Ms. Thomas-Bellamy completed a
supplemental questionnaire in connection with her application
for admission. In her response to an item on that
questionnaire, she reiterated that there were no
"charges or complaints now pending concerning [her]
conduct as an attorney . . . ." As Ms. Thomas-Bellamy
concedes, that was not true, and she knew it was not true
when she completed the supplemental questionnaire. She was
sworn into the District of Columbia Bar the next day.
of Maryland Investigation of Client Complaints
meantime, Ms. Thomas-Bellamy cooperated in the
Commission's investigation of the Maryland client
complaints. She also completed her work on the bankruptcy
petitions for three of the clients to their satisfaction and
refunded the money paid by the fourth client.
the Commission completed its investigation, the Commission
and Ms. Thomas-Bellamy filed with this Court a Joint Petition
for Indefinite Suspension by consent. The Joint Petition
outlined her client communication failures, but noted that
she had resolved each of the client complaints. The Joint
Petition also described Ms. Thomas-Bellamy's failure to
maintain appropriate records concerning her attorney trust
account and to file timely tax returns (apparently due in
part to mistakes by the accountant she originally hired for
that purpose). In the Joint Petition, the parties agreed
that an appropriate sanction would be an indefinite
suspension from the practice law in Maryland with the right
to apply for reinstatement no sooner than six months from the
date of suspension.
March 28, 2014, this Court accepted the Joint Petition and
the agreed disposition, and suspended Ms. Thomas-Bellamy
indefinitely from the practice of law in Maryland with the
right to apply for reinstatement after six months.
Attorney Grievance Comm'n v. Thomas-Bellamy, 437
Md. 606 (2014). Since that time Ms. Thomas-Bellamy has not
petitioned for reinstatement and remains suspended from the
practice of law in Maryland.
Proceedings in the ...