1. TRIAL ENTERS 17th DAY TUESDAY MAY 24. <-- click it
2. HOW THINGS GOT THIS FAR AND WHY <-- click it
3. CITIZENS ADDRESS COUNTY COUNCIL (historic videos)
The Grievance Commission vs. Allen Dyer and Susan Gray continues in Annapolis on Tuesday morning at 9:00 in the Anne Arundel courthouse, 8 Church Circle, Annapolis.
This trial is going into its 17th day and is wrapping up soon. Don't miss the final days of this important trial and the creation of a record of 'findings of fact and conclusion of law'.
Trial day number 16 (in a trial that was predicted to end after a week) was May 20. Judge Ronald A. Silkworth, in the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, has the reputation for being a champion for applying the law equitably. He has continued to embody that honor throughout this trial of the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission against Susan Gray and Allen Dyer for their efforts to represent citizens bringing a referendum to the voters of Howard County Maryland. The Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission is intending to strip these two attorneys of their license to practice law in Maryland. Lydia Lawless represents the bar counsel who is bringing these charges based on the accusations of Mr. William "Bill" Erskine, a developer attorney for Offit/Kurman, a law firm based in Maple Lawn in Fulton, Maryland.
The fact-finding efforts of Judge Silkworth's court appear to reveal that the statements and accusations brought to the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission by developer attorney, William Erskine, are at times totally unsupported by the actual record or unsupported by legal theory; and at best, at other times, disingenuous. In the case of the latter, Mr. Erskine said he brought this case because Susan and Allen's clients were not given adequate legal representation because of attorney incompetence. He asserted that Susan and Allen were confused on the law and they had filed pleadings with the Howard County Circuit Court; the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and the Maryland Court of Appeals- inappropriately. Mr. Erskine said it was his duty as an attorney to report this incompetence and citizen harm.
It has been the assertion of Mr. Erskine and Judge Tisdale (of Frederick County but assigned to the Howard County Circuit Court to hear the referendum cases) that the First Amendment argument has no place in this matter. Susan and Allen argued it does, based on their consultation with national constitutional experts and based on a similar 1957 U.S. Supreme court case. And recently, Allen Dyer found the 2007, Ninth Circuit Court case, (Perry vs Schwarzenegger) which used that same basis of law as Allen and Susan did, and built a solid legal argument in a case that was right on point. Mr. Erskine and others seem to have been wrong all along on many issues and charges, and Allen and Susan have been very effectively proving them to be wrong.
There were others who did not do their homework before charging Ms. Gray and Mr. Dyer per Mr. Erskine's suit. Lydia Lawless, attorney for the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission, listened as this discussion developed. Judge Silkworth asked Ms. Lawless if she had done any research into the position of the accused or did she rely solely upon the statements and accusation of Mr. Erskine? She specifically did not answer the question. She then said-"Your honor, the First Amendment issue is a "red herring…
She then paused and tried to deny saying it, to which Judge Silkworth replied "You said it … it's in the transcript." Ms. Lawless tried to make the point that Howard-County-appointed Judge Tisdale gave orders and that Susan and Allan failed to obey them. Judge Silkworth responded saying: "they challenged those orders on grounds of them being inappropriate because Mr. Erskine had no standing in the case, and because the orders were intimidating, had the effect of chilling free speech and directly violated their clients' First Amendment rights."
Ms. Lawless also pointed out other provisions of the law Allen and Susan supposedly violated. She detailed provisions intended to address problems in which attorneys have harmed their clients with clear misconduct. It appears that she glossed over the rules that say that proceedings of the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission are not to be used to settle disputes between two attorneys.
And it appears that is exactly what we are left with… this whole case seems to have been brought by Mr. William Erskine because the First Amendment rights of citizens were interfering with the interest of his clients, many of them developers. And it also appears that others-including the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission- collaborated with Mr. Erskine in that effort. What is the proper term for this group behavior, 'syncopated misconduct'? Come to the courtroom in Annapolis this Tuesday May 24, starting at 9:00 am. This may be your final opportunity to witness this important struggle for justice.
Attorney ethics rules require attorneys to provide pro bono services to citizens. Two attorneys worked tirelessly to maintain and protect the Referendum --- and our Constitutional voting rights.
They used their experience, research and collaborated with legal experts in Maryland and nationally. Extensive time and filings were necessary. A complaint was filed by an attorney representing developers claiming that the two attorneys violated attorney ethics rules. Charges against two attorneys, which bring into question their license to practice law, include the filing of frivolous pleadings.
Today is the tenth day of trial. Judge Silkwood is one of the best judges I have experience in my 40 years of legal practice, including federal, state, and local courts in several states. Today he was asking questions of Susan Gray to clarify her detailed testimony on what was done for Referendum Petitioners and her detailed justification for each action taken. These were not frivolous filings.
In his questions Judge Silkworth referred to the Interrogatory answers by the attorney for the Ethics Commission. Judge Silkworth since trial day one has been trying to organize the charges and responses to fulfill his duty to the Court of Appeals to provide a full statement of facts and conclusions. The Commission's attorney, Lydia Lawless has refused numerous times to provide a statement of charges. She said she would provide the list of charges in her Closing Argument. So Judge Silkworth is using the Commission's Interrogatory answers as his guide to organize his findings and conclusions. He refers to the interrogatory answers in asking Attorney Susan Gray for clarification of the details in her testimony.
What?? The Commission's Attorney, Lydia Lawless, objects to the Judge's questions! Her objections are disrespectful at best, and in my opinion are examples of the real ethics violations – ethics violations by the attorney for the Ethics Commission, and by the Commission itself.
The trial will probably continue next Thursday.
The Referendum story against the two attorneys protecting voters rights would be worthy of a Pulitzer Prize award.Alan Schneider
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