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Lawyers Behaving Badly -- But Not in Maryland

The story of the day is the Arizona law student charged with kidnapping and torturing her former boyfriend. Kumari Fulbright, 25, a former beauty pageant winner and law clerk to U.S. District Judge Raner Collins, was indicted by a grand jury Dec. 18 along with three others on charges of kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated robbery and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. According to the Arizona Daily Star, Fulbright, while holding her ex-lover hostage, "specifically bit him several times while he was bound, stuck a butcher knife in his ear and said she was going to kill him, pointed a pistol at him." Explain that one to the bar examiners.

Elsewhere, Legal Profession Blog reports that a lawyer in Michigan has been sanctioned for repeatedly describing his opposing counsel using "a variety of demeaning terms," while a lawyer in Washington, D.C., has been disbarred for misappropriating clients' funds. What makes this latter case notable is that it took the D.C. Court of Appeals almost five years to decide the case -- with the lawyer continuing to practice all the while -- and the court excused the lawyer's failure to maintain financial records based on his excuse that he forget them when he moved his office.

Most likely, none of this would have happened in Maryland, where this news report tells us lawyers rarely get into trouble. "In fact," the report says, "the number of lawyers sanctioned by the state has fallen in the last 10 years, with the biggest drop happening in the last fiscal year, when only 57 of the state's 33,018 lawyers were disciplined by being disbarred, suspended or reprimanded." And when lawyers in the Old Line State do get into trouble, one malpractice attorney said, "it usually originates as an honest mistake that snowballs into serious professional misconduct."

Honest mistake -- maybe that's the line the Arizona law student should use if the charges against her hold up.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 2, 2008 at 02:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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