Maryland’s top court disbarred a Baltimore lawyer who violated a dozen rules of professional conduct by ignoring and neglecting clients, mishandling client money and misrepresenting his actions to multiple courts, according to an opinion filed late last week.
The lawyer, Landon M. White, has been disbarred since June, when the Court of Appeals Chief Judge Matthew J. Fader issued a per curiam order forbidding him from practicing law. Friday’s 68-page opinion, written by Judge Angela M. Eaves, explains the court’s reasons for the decision.
According to the opinion, White repeatedly took on clients and then failed to take any action to pursue their cases or filed key motions late. At attorney since 2015, White had agreed to a “conditional diversion agreement” in 2019 because of his mishandling of two postconviction cases.
That mishandling continued after the CDA ended, according to the opinion, when White took on two new postconviction cases and failed to prepare adequately or file timely motions. He also did not keep his clients informed about how the cases were proceeding, lied about actions he had taken, and deposited the money they paid him into a nonattorney trust account without their consent, according to the opinion.
“In all matters, Respondent did very little, if anything, to advance the interests of those clients. In the few instances he did act, he often submitted late pleadings resulting in prejudice to his clients,” Eaves wrote in the opinion.
“Respondent kept these clients in the dark about their legal matters. Respondent would go months — sometimes even years — without communicating with his clients, failing to keep them abreast of the status of their claims or even diligently pursue them.”
White also mishandled a breach of contract lawsuit by repeatedly filing motions late and failing to show up at a rescheduled trial date in district court in Baltimore, according to the opinion.
James Sweeting, an attorney who represented White before the Court of Appeals, declined to comment on the case Monday. Bar Counsel Lydia E. Lawless also declined to comment on the ruling.
Friday’s opinion includes a lengthy series of violations White was found to have committed, including ignoring bar counsel’s requests for documentation, mismanaging client funds and his attorney trust account and intentionally misrepresenting his actions to several courts in order to cover up his misconduct.
On several occasions, White certified that his filings were timely and that he had served copies to opposing counsel when that was not the case, according to the opinion. The records for his attorney trust account were inadequate, the court found, and bank statements showed that he paid personal expenses from the account, including a subscription to the Showtime television network.
The court also found several aggravating factors: White failed to attend trust account classes that were required as part of his CDA, according to the opinion, and continued to mismanage client funds, according to the opinion.
He also refused to acknowledge that his conduct was wrong when he appeared before a hearing judge to answer bar counsel’s petition for disciplinary action, the court found.
White’s clients suffered as a result of his misconduct, Eaves wrote, and include “monetary loss without bargained-for services, adverse court judgments, the loss of the right to appeal, and, potentially, continued loss of liberty.”
“To safeguard the public from future harm and to protect its perception of the legal community at large, we concluded that disbarment was the appropriate sanction for Respondent’s flagrant and persistent (Maryland Attorneys’ Rules of Professional Conduct) violations,” Eaves wrote.