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Top 5: ‘It was the perfect storm legally’

Despite heavy traffic and placement of our East Baltimore redevelopment series this week, several staff stories on the legal side grabbed readers’ attentions, including articles on alleged police misconduct and two disbarred attorneys. Here are this week’s top 5 stories in law:

1. Court of Appeals disbars two attorneys – by Danielle Ulman

Maryland’s top court has ruled in favor of the Attorney Grievance Commission, disbarring one lawyer for the unauthorized practice of law in the state and another for acting without client approval.

The Court of Appeals ruled on Jan. 25 that Sirina Sucklal, although a lawyer, was not a member of the Maryland Bar when she took on clients in the state and also held that she charged unreasonable fees.

2. Jury awards $170K in police beating case – by Brendan Kearney

A Baltimore jury has awarded $170,000 to a city man who claimed two police officers arrested him in September 2009 without cause and then punched him several times in the face while he was lying on his back in handcuffs.

The verdict came Wednesday evening after about an hour of deliberation at the end of a two-day trial in Baltimore City Circuit Court and represents the latest high-dollar result in a case alleging misconduct by city police.

3. Angelos company owes $1.4M for repairs to garage – by Brendan Kearney

A judge in Baltimore has ordered companies related to Baltimore Orioles’ owner Peter G. Angelos to pay more than $1.4 million to Graciano Corp., a Pittsburgh-based construction company that renovated an underground parking garage just north of Angelos’ law office.

In her Jan. 28 final order in Baltimore City Circuit Court, Judge Althea M. Handy established a mechanic’s lien and ordered that the six-level garage in the 200 block of North Charles Street be sold unless the defendant companies pay or post a bond by Feb. 25.

4. Police settlements continue to mount – by Brendan Kearney

Continuing a trend that has cost Baltimore several million dollars in recent years, the city is expected to pay out another $290,000 this month to settle another pair of lawsuits alleging police misconduct.

The first case, which settled during trial last week for $200,000, involved allegations that an officer shot an unarmed woman at a Cherry Hill bus stop in October 2008. In the other case — a $90,000 line item on this week’s Board of Estimates agenda — a Severna Park man claimed a city officer broke his arm while making a drug arrest near the westside McCulloh Homes in April 2009.

5. Deed in lieu of foreclosure signed at closing is void – by Danielle Ulman

Maryland’s top court has ruled that lenders cannot execute a deed in lieu of foreclosure as a condition of approving the loan before the borrower has defaulted on the mortgage.

In an opinion on Friday, the Court of Appeals vacated an earlier decision from the Montgomery County Circuit Court in favor of the lender and remanded the case to that court for further proceedings.