Madeleine O'Neill//June 6, 2023
//June 6, 2023
Two finalists have been named in the search for Maryland’s next bar counsel, a powerful job that involves prosecuting attorneys accused of ethical breaches.
The state Attorney Grievance Commission announced this week that John J. Kuchno, deputy chief of litigation in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, and D. Michael Lyles, the city attorney for Annapolis, are both being considered for the role.
The commission is seeking comments on the finalists until June 19 and will then appoint one of the finalists, who must also receive approval from the Maryland Supreme Court.
Whoever is selected will replace Erin A. Risch, who has been serving as acting bar counsel since Lydia E. Lawless stepped down in March after nearly six years on the job.
Lyles has led the city of Annapolis’s Office of Law since December 2019, according to his online biography for the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, where he is an alumnus and lecturer.
Prior to joining the Office of Law in Annapolis, Lyles was Of Counsel at Stroud Priest LLC, a law firm in Baltimore.
He also served as the executive director of the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission, where he oversaw a 13-person office that prosecuted unlawful discrimination and civil rights violations on behalf of county residents. Lyles held that position from 2011 to 2018.
He ran unsuccessfully for Prince George’s County state’s attorney in 2018. He also previously served as counsel and as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Defense, an associate county attorney with the Prince George’s County Office of Law, and as deputy general counsel for the District of Columbia’s Child and Family Services agency.
Lyles did not return a phone message requesting comment Tuesday.
Kuchno is currently deputy chief of litigation in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, which he rejoined after serving briefly as a Howard County circuit judge.
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, appointed Kuchno to the bench in December 2018. Kuchno ran to keep his seat in 2020 but lost that race, prompting his return to the Attorney General’s Office.
Before he became a judge, Kuchno was senior counsel in the attorney general’s civil litigation division for eight years. He also previously worked at Kramon & Graham P.A., served as group counsel in the defense litigation group for Travelers Companies, and was a principal at Neuberger, Quinn, Gielen, Rubin & Gibber, P.A.
He worked at DLA Piper from 1985 through 1996. He graduated from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, which he attended at night while working as a journalist.
Kuchno also served as a member of the Attorney Grievance Commission’s peer review committee from 1993 until 2019.
Kuchno declined to comment because the selection process is ongoing.
Only four people have served as bar counsel in the nearly 50 years that the office has existed in Maryland. Lawless was the first woman to hold the job.
She left in March for a position at Kramon & Graham. The Baltimore firm is known for handling legal issues for other law firms and lawyers.