If you heard that a lawyer prepared a document and used cut-and-paste to include opposing counsel’s signature (without her permission), then submitted it to the court, what do you think the bar sanction should be?
A tut-tut and an admonition to go and cut-and-paste no more?
Somewhere in between?
In Maryland, the answer is pretty close to the simple tut-tut. Our sister paper in Baltimore, The Daily Record, reports that Dana A. Paul of Edgewater, Md., took the signature of Annapolis lawyer Laura Penn Shanley from one document, used a photocopier to copy her signature, then affixed to a document he filed with the court.
The Maryland Court of Appeals, in Attorney Grievance Commission v. Paul, noted that there was a history of “bad blood” between the two lawyers.
The Maryland bar counsel who pursued the ethics charges wanted a suspension, and the Attorney Grievance Commission agreed, suspending Paul’s license for 90 days. On appeal to Maryland’s highest court, Paul came out ahead. The court, 4-3, reversed the suspension, writing that a reprimand was sanction enough.
A vigorous dissent charged that the majority had “trivialized” the misconduct.