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Mount Airy title worker found fit to practice law

The Court of Appeals has admitted a Mount Airy man to the bar despite a 2006 transgression that led an appellate character committee to recommend that he not gain admittance.

The State Board of Law Examiners gave Richard J. Thorne Jr. a favorable recommendation for admission to the bar, while the Character Committee for the Third Appellate Circuit of Maryland said he should not be admitted.

In a decision by Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, the court rejected the character committee’s advice on Friday, one day after Thorne’s attorney, Joseph Murtha, appeared before the court on his behalf.

“I actually thought it was going to go the other way,” Thorne said Monday. “I had a more pessimistic view and I was ready to move forward with the negative response. I was very happy to hear what I did hear.”

While working for a title company in 2006 Thorne backdated a set of refinancing forms by two days. The clients decided they no longer wanted to refinance their mortgage, but because of the backdating issue, they missed the three-day window to pull out.

The clients sued and settled within three months, according Murtha, a partner in Miller Murtha & Psoras LLC in Lutherville.

The character committee seemed to treat Thorne as if he had already been admitted to the bar in its assessment of his actions and the rehabilitation of his character, Murtha told the court.

The character committee focused on “whether or not his actions would likely lead to disbarment if the applicant had been a member of the bar. They reached the conclusion that it would,” Murtha said.

“Their first analysis is not whether or not he presently possessed the good moral character in order to practice law in the state of Maryland, but whether or not his actions would lead to disbarment,” he said.

Thorne graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law and passed the bar in 2007. He has been running his own company, Settlement Matters LLC, for four years while awaiting a final decision on his status.