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Lawyer indefinitely suspended by Court of Appeals

Daily Record Staff//Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer//September 25, 2011

Lawyer indefinitely suspended by Court of Appeals

By Daily Record Staff

//Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer

//September 25, 2011

Maryland’s top court has indefinitely suspended an attorney for failure to properly manage his trust account and for improperly handling clients’ cases.

Roland N. Patterson Jr. can apply for readmission in six months.

Patterson was found to have overdrawn his Interest on Lawyer Trust Account and failed to create a record for it. He also took on Denver Moten as a client, but failed to enter his appearance in the matter or generally prepare for the case.

He also failed to inform Moten that his representation of him had been terminated and charged unreasonable fees for the work completed. In addition, the court said he failed to expedite litigation.

Patterson filed five exceptions to Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Susan Souder’s findings. The Court of Appeals overruled two of Patterson’s exceptions and sustained two fully and one partially.

While Souder said Patterson failed to earn his fees before withdrawing them from the account, the appeals court said there was no clear and convincing evidence that he did so.

Souder also found that Patterson violated MRPC 1.1, which requires competent representation of a client. The court said it would sustain an aspect of Patterson’s exception “only to the extent that ‘drafting the complaint itself’ does not demonstrate a level of incompetence sufficient to violate MRPC 1.1.”

The court also sustained Patterson’s exception to Souder’s ruling that he violated rule 1.16(d), which requires a lawyer to protect a client’s interests following termination.

Souder did not address any mitigating factors when she heard the case, including Patterson’s multiple sclerosis. He said he did not respond to bar counsel’s inquiries because it was causing him stress and pain, and the court said he therefore had a mitigating factor for violating Rule 8.1(b), requiring cooperation with bar counsel.

What the court held


Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Roland N. Patterson Jr., AG No. 22, Sept. Term 2010. Reported. Opinion by Barbera, J. Argued May 4, 2011. Filed Sept. 21, 2011.


Is indefinite suspension the appropriate punishment for an attorney who fails to properly manage his trust account and improperly handles client cases?


Yes, with a right to seek readmission in six months. Those actions violated professional rules pertaining to trust accounts, fees, termination of representation, competence and expediting litigation.


Edward J. Smith for respondent; Raymond Hein for petitioner

RecordFax#11-0921-21 (34 pages)


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