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Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Pennington Case Brief

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					Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Pennington 876 A.2d 642 (Md. 2005)
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Pennington was an attorney in Maryland. She took a personal injury case from Butler. The case was thrown out because the Statute of Limitations expired. o When Butler's complaint was filed, the court clerk gave it an incorrect docket number. o Pennington didn't notice until it was too late. Pennington told the opposing party (Amica Insurance) that the case had been dropped, but didn't inform Butler. o Instead, Pennington offered to pay Butler $10k, which is what he had hoped to win in the settlement. o Pennington had asked a legal ethics expert, Wiggins, who said that disclosure was not required.  Wiggins was only licensed to practice law in DC, not Maryland. Pennington paid Butler $10k, minus her contingency fees. Then went after the doctor in an attempt to have Butler's medical expenses reduced. o Pennington told the doctor that Amica had settled the claim. o The doctor contacted Amica, who contacted the Attorney Grievance Commission. The Attorney Grievance Commission filed charges against Pennington for violation of a number of rules. o Rule 1.1, and Rule 1.3, Pennington didn't act competently or diligently when she didn't notice the misfiled paperwork in time. o Rule 1.2, and Rule 1.4, Pennington didn't act within the scope of her representation by giving the $10k to Butler without communicating the reason why (Butler should have been given a choice to sue for legal malpractice).  This is also a Rule 1.7(b), conflict of interest violation, and a Rule 1.16(a)(1), failure to withdraw representation violation. o All of this amounts to a Rule 8.4, Misconduct

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violation. The Hearing Judge ordered that Pennington be suspended for 120 days, both sides appealed. o Pennington argued that she had acted in good faith and relied on Wiggins' counsel. The Appellate Court permanently disbarred Pennington. o The Appellate Court found the Rule 1.1, and Rule 1.3, violations were honest mistakes. o However, the Rule 8.4 violation was egregious enough to warrant disbarment.  Again, this case shows that if a lawyer makes a mistake, they need to admit it immediately, it's the cover-up that gets you disbarred, not the initial violation!


				
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