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Court of Appeals suspends two attorneys

Two attorneys were sanctioned last week by the Court of Appeals — one by consent, the other after his license to practice in Virginia was revoked.

John Arthur Sutherland Jr.’s license to practice law in Virginia was revoked in February 2012. The Maryland Court of Appeals gave Sutherland an interim suspension pending a further order from the court.

John Gary Billmyre was indefinitely suspended by consent in an order issued Oct. 9.

Bar Counsel Glenn M. Grossman declined to comment on either case.

Details of Billmyre’s suspension were not available. Sutherland, who did not appear at his hearing before the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board and was not represented by counsel, failed to respond to a client and allowed the statute of limitations to expire in a personal injury case, according to Sutherland’s revocation order from the Virginia disciplinary board.

Sutherland was retained by Kathryne L. Cassedy in October 2003 for two cases — one dealing with a contract with a builder and the other a personal injury claim stemming from a car crash she’d been in the previous month.

Sutherland told Cassedy that he had filed a claim with Allstate Insurance Co. in July 2004 asking the company to make a payment of $25,000, Cassedy’s policy limit.

The insurance company informed Sutherland that it agreed to the demand. Sutherland, however, took no further action to complete the settlement.

Cassedy was unable to reach Sutherland on the phone for about three months afterward, despite calling him almost daily. She sent him a certified letter in January 2009 and terminated his representation when he did not respond to it.

She also told Sutherland she would be coming to his office on Feb. 23, 2009, to pick up her case files. Cassedy’s new attorney also sent a letter about retrieving the files.

When Cassedy arrived at his office, however, Sutherland was not there and her files were not available.

Cassedy’s new attorney was able to handle her contract claim successfully, but the personal injury case was no longer viable since the statute of limitations had expired. This meant Cassedy could not recover the $25,000 offered by her insurance company.

Sutherland could not be located at several phone numbers listed under his name.

Cassedy then filed a complaint with the Virginia State Bar in April 2009. Sutherland did not respond to any notifications sent by Bar Counsel.

Sutherland’s license in Virginia was suspended on an interim basis in July 2009 and revoked February 2012.