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Attorney indefinitely suspended for ‘antisemitic and highly offensive’ client letter

Maryland’s Court of Appeals has indefinitely suspended a Virginia-based lawyer who sent an “antisemitic and highly offensive” letter to a client she was representing in an employment discrimination case.

The lawyer, Amber L. Maiden, disputed the court’s findings and called the decision racist and sexist in an interview.

The 21-page opinion concludes that Maiden used “language that is antisemitic, personally insulting, profane, and otherwise inappropriate” in the letter to her client, a white man who had asked her to join his appeal to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in order to win more substantial damages.

Maiden, who is Black, initially agreed to the request, according to the opinion, and suggested that she and her client seek $20 million in punitive damages from the man’s former employer, the U.S. Department of State. The client claimed he had been discriminated against because of his gender.

In exchange for joining the appeal, Maiden said she would expect to receive 50% of any damages won.

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After an in-person meeting in late 2019, the relationship between Maiden and the client fell apart, Court of Appeals Chief Judge Matthew Fader wrote in the opinion. Maiden told a hearing judge in her disciplinary case that the client was aggressive and attempted to intimidate her during the in-person meeting.

In an email sent after the meeting, Maiden accused the client of “mistaking her ‘for someone far less intelligent,’ which she said was ‘almost always the case when dealing with white Americans.'”

The client emailed back that he took “great offense” to the accusation. Hours later, Maiden responded with an encrypted 20-page letter that required a password to open. The password was included in her email to the client.

Portions of Maiden’s letter are excerpted in the opinion:

“I can tell you right now, money does not move me, the way it moves you. I would say you are obsessed with it, and that’s very unhealthy. At the risk of offending you, I am going to say, it’s probably because you’re Jewish (I think) and that seems to be a part of your culture, (with the men anyway, the women are different.)”

The letter is laced with profanities and criticizes the client for trying to limit the amount of damages Maiden would receive if the employment discrimination case was successful. Maiden wrote that the anti-discrimination law she was basing the case on was written for her, not for the client’s “white a–.”

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The letter goes on: “I know why you’re like this. If you are in fact Jewish, this is a part of your culture, yall Jew boys and that money…you think it’s antisemitic for people to call you out … NO. It is not.”

The client ended Maiden’s representation after receiving the letter, according to the Court of Appeals opinion.

The appeals court found that Maiden violated a number of ethical rules, including creating a conflict of interest by joining her client’s appeal without having him sign a waiver, misrepresenting to Maryland Bar Counsel that she had sent the 20-page letter by mistake, and sending a letter that showed bias and prejudice based on religion.

“The … letter is laced with statements that are offensive, demeaning, personally insulting, profane, and premised on harmful religious, racial, and ethnic stereotypes,” Fader wrote.

In an email, Maiden told The Daily Record that she found the process of working with the Attorney Grievance Commission to be “extremely racist and sexist.”

“Nothing I said was given any weight in that forum because I am a Black female, who was harassed and threatened by a white male client, who essentially wanted me to continue working for him for free, like a slave,” Maiden wrote.

“I did not write a 20-page antisemitic letter TO ANYONE,” she wrote. “What I did do is have the audacity to set some boundaries with my extremely aggressive white male client.”

Bar Counsel Lydia E. Lawless declined to comment about the case.