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Va. attorney dismisses defamation suit against Md. bar counsel

(Vladimir Cetinski /

(Vladimir Cetinski /

A Virginia attorney who filed a federal defamation lawsuit against the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission voluntarily dismissed it last week after the judge in her discipline matter found she committed misconduct.

Melinda Maldonado filed suit in U.S. District Court last year alleging the commission made false and defamatory statements to a peer review panel, the Court of Appeals and Montgomery County Circuit Court. But she filed a notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice Thursday, just weeks after Montgomery County Circuit Judge Debra L. Dwyer determined Maldonado violated the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct.

Maldonado said Monday she dismissed the defamation suit to allow her to focus on the attorney grievance matter, noting she disagrees with Dwyer’s findings.

“I’m disgusted, just disgusted by the whole thing, but it’s not over and I just want to say that in the end, the truth will come out, justice will prevail and all this fraud and corruption will come crashing down,” she said.

Maldonado was practicing pro hac vice in Maryland representing a woman whose exposure to severe water damage and toxic mold left her disabled, according to court filings. Her opposing counsel filed a complaint with the commission, and Maldonado alleges they used the grievance as a litigation tactic to disrupt the case.

But Dwyer, in a June 12 opinion, acknowledged the defamation suit and said Maldonado’s claims that the commission’s charges are false “further proves that she does not recognize the wrongful nature of her conduct.”

Dwyer determined Maldonado did not provide competent representation; was not truthful because she misrepresented to third parties that she was a doctor; did not respect the rights of third parties by harassing her client’s doctor; and committed unauthorized practice of law by “ghost-writing” pleadings when the client claimed to represent herself pro se.

Madonado denied any wrongdoing Monday and said “my record and my integrity speak for themselves.”

Dwyer noted Maldonado has no public disciplinary record in any jurisdiction, “has an outstanding reputation as an experienced practitioner in the area of toxic torts and mold litigation” and the client in the underlying matter testified to her truthfulness and competence.

The federal case is Maldonado v. Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland et al., 1:17-cv-01988-ELH. The discipline case is Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Melinda Maldonado, 433322-V.

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