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Maryland lawyer disbarred for failing to disclose past discipline to Texas bar

A Maryland lawyer’s second chance to present mitigating factors at a disciplinary hearing did not save his law license.

The state’s highest court disbarred the lawyer, Edward A. Malone, in a 54-page opinion issued late last week. The Court of Appeals found that Malone “engaged in intentional dishonest conduct” when he failed to disclose his disciplinary history as he applied to join the Texas bar.

“Malone’s misconduct involved not only fraud but also a blatant disregard for the truth and the legal system in general, and the potential for harm to clients,” Judge Shirley M. Watts wrote in the opinion.

The Court of Appeals previously granted Malone a brief reprieve when it allowed him the chance to present mitigating factors to a hearing judge before being sanctioned.

In an opinion issued earlier this year, the court found Malone’s invocation of the Fifth Amendment at his deposition in the disciplinary case should not have prevented him from testifying about mitigating factors at his evidentiary hearing. The judges sent the case back to the hearing judge so that Malone could testify.

But the mitigating factors he presented did not help, the Court of Appeals found last week.

The court overruled Malone’s objections to the findings of the hearing judge, who wrote that he was “was left with the impression that [Malone] has a fundamental misunderstanding of legal ethics in general, and in particular, why it is fundamentally important that attorneys be genuine and honest,” according to the opinion.

On the Fifth Amendment issue, the court warned that “we must take care not to chill the good faith invocation of the privilege against self-incrimination, recognizing that the line between a valid and an invalid assertion of the privilege is often difficult to discern.”

Disciplinary issues have dogged Malone for years, according to the opinion.

In 2012, Malone received a private reprimand from then-Chief Judge Deborah K. Chasanow in U.S. District Court in Maryland. Chasanow issued the private reprimand because Malone had been held in contempt for missing a hearing in bankruptcy court without proper justification.

In 2011, the Virginia State Bar issued a public reprimand against Malone for failing to represent clients and for failing to respond to a bar counsel investigation. Malone’s Virginia law license was then suspended because he did not pay disciplinary costs associated with his sanction. His law license was forfeited in 2013 after he failed to pay dues for two years, according to the Court of Appeals opinion.

Malone failed to disclose any of that disciplinary history, or the fact that he was admitted to practice law in Virginia, when he applied to join the Texas bar, the hearing judge found, in violation of Maryland’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers.

Malone’s Texas law license was withdrawn and canceled in 2016, after the Texas Board of Law Examiners learned of the discipline he had left off his application.

Malone was also indicted in 2016, after his Texas law license had been canceled, for “holding himself out as a lawyer” at an event where lawyers typically read the Declaration of Independence. The indictment was later quashed.

Maryland Bar Counsel Lydia E. Lawless declined to comment for this story. Malone’s lawyer, Craig Brodsky, did not return a phone call requesting comment.

(Editor’s Note: Craig Brodsky writes a monthly legal ethics column for The Daily Record.)

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