Longtime appellate advocate Mark L. Gitomer has consented to disbarment amid “multiple” complaints of ethical lapses filed with the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland, according to court documents.
The Court of Appeals accepted the Joint Petition for Disbarment that the commission and Gitomer filed last week.
According to the joint petition, the commission had received multiple complaints against the Reisterstown solo, alleging that he “failed to represent his clients with reasonable diligence and promptness, failed to communicate with them concerning the status of their matter, failed to maintain his unearned fees in escrow, and misappropriated funds from his escrow account” in violation of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct.
Gitomer, who was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1985, consented to disbarment “because he knows if a hearing were to be held, sufficient evidence could be produced to sustain the allegations of misconduct,” the joint petition said.
Gitomer’s disbarment by consent ended a legal career that featured appellate victories on the constitutional rights of criminal defendants.
In 2000, Gitomer argued successfully before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Tyrone Jenkins’ constitutional right to a fair trial had been violated 25 years earlier by a then-standard jury instruction that jurors should judge the law as well as the facts. That jury found Jenkins guilty of armed robbery and attempted murder.
In 2003, Gitomer successfully urged the Maryland Court of Appeals to adopt the federal Accardi doctrine, which holds that a government agency must follow its own rules and regulations, and if it does not, it has violated a person’s due process rights.
Gitomer had made the argument for adoption in pressing Michael Pollock’s argument that Patuxent Institution could not consider his urinalysis results as part of his parole revocation hearing because it had failed to follow its own established procedures to protect against tampering. The court adopted the rule but ultimately ruled against Pollock, saying the prison’s procedural lapse did not implicate his fundamental constitutional rights nor violate statutorily mandated procedure.
Gitomer did not return telephone messages seeking comment.
Because he consented to disbarment before the commission brought a formal complaint to the Court of Appeals, the specific allegations of the pending complaints against him are not part of the public record.
By consenting at such an early stage, Gitomer essentially waived his rights to a hearing before a circuit judge, to challenge that judge’s findings and to make his case before the Court of Appeals.
Gitomer had also received an agreed-upon public reprimand for violating ethical rules in April 2011.
The Joint Petition for Disbarment by Consent in Gitomer’s case was approved by the court on Aug. 1.
Reprimand by consent
In an unrelated joint petition filed two days later, another longtime solo practitioner consented to a reprimand for violating Maryland Rule of Professional Conduct 1.16, regarding the termination of representation.
The reprimand stems from a case that Richard J. Reinhardt, of Towson, was handling before he was indefinitely suspended by the Court of Appeals on Feb. 10, 2006.
The court, which came within one vote of disbarring Reinhardt at that time, reinstated his right to practice on Jan. 22, 2009.
In the interim, however, Reinhardt failed to notify the Social Security Administration that he was no longer representing a client who was appealing the denial of her disability benefits, the Attorney Grievance Commission said.
A hearing judge was assigned to the case, and Reinhardt argued in vain that his representation of the client had ended on Dec. 22, 2005, when agency heard his client’s appeal. Reinhardt was still listed as the attorney of record on April 21, 2006, when the Social Security Administration issued its decision.
The Court of Appeals granted the joint petition for reprimand on Monday. Reinhardt did not return telephone calls seeking comment this week.
Reinhardt joined the Maryland bar in 1975. In October 2010, he represented his son, Richard J. Reinhardt II, in a $2 million defamation suit against Julie L. Ensor, who was then running for her current office as clerk of Baltimore County Circuit Court. The younger Reinhardt was running against Ensor and the suit claimed that she had falsely implicated him in the disappearance of 200 of her campaign signs. The case was transferred to Harford County Circuit Court, where a judge granted Ensor’s motion to dismiss on April 27.
Glenn M. Grossman, bar counsel to the Attorney Grievance Commission, declined to comment on Gitomer’s and Reinhardt’s disciplinary cases.