Application of Strzempek, Misc. Docket No. 2 Sept. Term 2008.

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtBattaglia
Citation962 A.2d 988,407 Md. 102
PartiesIn the Matter of the Application of Gregory John STRZEMPEK for Admission to the Bar of Maryland.
Decision Date30 December 2008
Docket NumberMisc. Docket No. 2 Sept. Term 2008.
962 A.2d 988
407 Md. 102
In the Matter of the Application of Gregory John STRZEMPEK for Admission to the Bar of Maryland.
Misc. Docket No. 2 Sept. Term 2008.
Court of Appeals of Maryland.
December 30, 2008.

Melvin G. Bergman, Esquire of Greenbelt, for applicant.

[962 A.2d 989]

Argued before BELL, C.J., HARRELL, BATTAGLIA, GREENE, MURPHY, ADKINS and BARBERA, JJ.

BATTAGLIA, J.


In this case we are asked to decide whether to grant the petition for admission to the Maryland Bar of Gregory John Strzempek, who filed his application on December 19, 2005, and who, thereafter, failed to timely supplement it with the Board of Law Examiners, with the information that he had been arrested on February 10, 2006, and convicted in the State of Virginia for driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, eluding a police officer, and unsafe lane changing, after pleading guilty on April 12, 2006. Strzempek eventually disclosed his convictions and sentence to the Board, albeit nine months later, only after being advised that he had passed the Bar Exam.

The Board filed an exception to his admission and referred the matter to the Character Committee, which held a hearing and recommended that Strzempek be denied admission, because his failure to immediately disclose impugned his present character and fitness. Strzempek appealed to the Board of Law Examiners, and the Board recommended that he be admitted, because the voluntarily disclosure, although late, was deemed a mitigating factor. This Court ordered Strzempek to "show cause why the favorable recommendation of the State Board of Law Examiners should be accepted and why the adverse recommendation of the Character Committee for the Fourth Appellate Circuit should be rejected by the Court." Upon hearing argument from Strzempek's counsel and an independent review of the record, we shall conclude that Strzempek presently does not possess the requisite moral character and fitness for the practice of law, required for admission to the Maryland Bar.1

I. Background

The facts are undisputed. Gregory John Strzempek was licensed to practice law in the State of New York for twenty-four years, when he filed a Bar Application with the Maryland Board of Law Examiners, on December 19, 2005.2 At the time of the application, Strzempek answered "none" to Question 11(a),3 asking for "a complete record of all criminal proceedings (including traffic citations, arrests, and summonses)," and also answered "No" to Question 17, which asked:4

Have there been any circumstances or unfavorable incidents in your life, whether at school, college, law school, business, or otherwise, which may have a bearing upon your character or fitness to practice law, not called for by the questions contained in this questionnaire or disclosed in your answers?

If so, give full details, including any assertions or implications of dishonesty, misconduct, misrepresentation, financial irresponsibility, and disciplinary measures

962 A.2d 990

imposed (if any) by attaching a supplemental statement....

Strzempek also affixed his signature on the application immediately beneath Question 19,5 which informed applicants of their continuing responsibility to disclose relevant information:

Affirmation of Applicant's Duty of Full, Candid Disclosure and Applicant's Continuing Duty to Submit Written Notice of Changes to Information Sought by the Application: I understand that the required disclosures in this questionnaire are of a continuing nature. I hereby acknowledge my duty to respond fully and candidly to each question or required disclosure and to ensure that my responses are accurate and current at all times until I am formally admitted to the Bar of the State of Maryland. I will advise the Board immediately and in writing of any changes in the information disclosed in or sought by this questionnaire, including any pertinent facts developed after the initial filing of this application and the facts of any incident occurring subsequent to the initial filing of this application.

I do solemnly declare and affirm under the penalties of perjury, that the matters and facts set forth in the foregoing application are true and correct.

I have made and retained a copy of this entire application for my records and for use in the event that the original is lost in the mail or during the character investigation.

(Italics, underlining and emboldening in original).

On February 10, 2006, approximately two weeks before Strzempek was scheduled to take the February Bar Exam, he was arrested in Fairfax County, Virginia, and charged with driving while intoxicated, refusal of a breath test, reckless driving, eluding a police officer, and unsafe lane changing; he was taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center and released on bail. On April 12, 2006, Strzempek pled guilty to driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, eluding a police officer, and unsafe lane changing, and after paying $641 in fines, was sentenced to 360 days in jail, with 356 days suspended on the DWI charge, as well as suspended driving privileges and probation for one year.6 He served the four-day jail sentence from April 14 to April 18, 2006. On April 27, 2006, only nine days after having been released from jail, Strzempek attended his Character Committee interview, during which he did not disclose his arrest, convictions, jail sentence, suspended driver's license or probation, disclosure that likely would have triggered additional investigation at that time.7 Strzempek also did not supplement his application.

He took the July 2006 Maryland Bar Examination and was advised that he passed on Friday, November 5. Three days later, on November 8, a Monday, Strzempek sent the Board his Affirmation Form8—a form sent with the Bar Examination

962 A.2d 991

results requiring a successful applicant to affirm that the information contained in the original application was still current. With the Form, Strzempek enclosed his conviction record and a letter that reflected that he had been convicted of the five offenses and paid fines of $87 and $50 for the lesser traffic violations, but even then omitted the $641 fine, the four days in prison and the suspended sentence, imposed for driving while intoxicated. Upon receipt, the Board filed an exception to Strzempek's admission, and the file was returned to the Character Committee to enable Strzempek to explain his lack of candor regarding the Virginia charges.

The Character Committee conducted a hearing on December 5, 2007,9 during which Strzempek acknowledged that he had not disclosed the incident, particularly during his character interview, and provided the following explanation:

[O]ne of the things I was thinking or my main thought during the process was at the time I had my meeting I had not even taken the bar exam. And since it had been quite a number of years since I took an exam, I was uncertain as to whether I would be successful on the exam.

And I felt at the time that I would wait until I obtained the results and then at that point I would—I would either pass the exam, at which point I would promptly inform the Law Examiners and the Character Committee of the incident, or I would not pass the exam and decide to retake it, at which point I would also disclose the incident, or I would decide that, you know, either due to time constraints, you know, or that I wouldn't—or I didn't think I would pass, ultimately pass the exam, I'd decide to withdraw my application.

So in my own mind, as long as I thought that there was a probability that I could withdraw the application, I didn't see any need to expose myself to that type of embarrassment in disclosing that and also have that kind of material lying around in some file which, you know, I really didn't know where it would ultimately end up. And that was my reason.

After conducting a full hearing, the Character Committee recommended that Strzempek not be admitted to the Maryland Bar:

962 A.2d 992

The Applicant's explanation for his failure to make immediate disclosure to the State Board of his arrest, conviction and jail term and his lack of candor at the interview with [the Character Committee Representative] was that he did not want his information sitting in a file as long as there was a probability of his not passing the Bar or withdrawing his application. While acknowledging that he violated the requirement for immediate and full disclosure of any changes to his application, the applicant stated that he did not make the disclosure because of his concerns about the privacy of information concerning his arrest and conviction. He maintained this position even after being reminded that the application file is private and confidential and that his court case was part of the public record. Further, the applicant stated that he would not have made the disclosure if he had failed the bar exam because he believed this issue would not have been relevant. Even though he stated that his ultimate disclosure was voluntary, such disclosure was in fact mandatory. His disclosure came after he received notification that he had passed the Bar examination and was required to complete an affirmation of the information contained in his application prior to admission. The applicant, while admitting that he made a mistake, did not show remorse for his actions and stated that he saw no reason for disclosure if he had failed the exam even though he previously admitted that he violated the sworn statement on his application requiring full and immediate disclosure of any charges to the information in his application. Finally, as a member of the New York Bar for 24 years, the Applicant should understand the importance of candor and his responsibility for compliance with his sworn statement.

(Alteration added).

Pursuant to Rule 5(c),10 the Board reviewed the Character Committee's Report and notified Strzempek that a hearing would be held to afford him the opportunity to support his...

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20 practice notes
  • In re Overall, Misc. Docket No. 16, Sept. Term, 2017
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • December 18, 2017
    ...fiduciary responsibility.' " In re Application of Cramer , 427 Md. 612, 622, 50 A.3d 1066 (2012) (quoting In re Application of Strzempek , 407 Md. 102, 112, 962 A.2d 988 (2008) ). In determining whether a candidate should be admitted to the Bar, we examine the applicant's "present moral cha......
  • Attorney Grievance Comm'n Of Md. v. Bleecker, Misc. AG No. 27
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • May 12, 2010
    ...reckless driving, eluding a police officer, and unsafe lane changing. In the Matter of the Application of Gregory John Strzempek, 407 Md. 102, 962 A.2d 988 (2008). We reasoned that the applicant's concealment of his conviction and arrest during his Character Committee interview, as well as ......
  • Attorney Grievance Comm'n of Md. v. Thomas-Bellamy, Misc. Docket No. AG 7, Sept. Term, 2016
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 22, 2016
    ...her law school grade point average in order to obtain an interview with a prospective employer); In re Application of Strzempek , 407 Md. 102, 962 A.2d 988 (2008) (failure to report conviction for driving while intoxicated); In re Application of Emsean L. Brown , 392 Md. 44, 895 A.2d 1050 (......
  • Attorney Grievance Commission v. Bleecker, Misc. Docket AG No. 27, September Term, 2009 (Md. App. 5/12/2010), Misc. Docket AG No. 27, September Term, 2009.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 12, 2010
    ...reckless driving, eluding a police officer, and unsafe lane changing. In the Matter of the Application of Gregory John Strzempek, 407 Md. 102, 962 A.2d 988 (2008). We reasoned that the applicant's concealment of his conviction and arrest during his Character Committee interview, as well as ......
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20 cases
  • In re Overall, Misc. Docket No. 16, Sept. Term, 2017
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • December 18, 2017
    ...fiduciary responsibility.' " In re Application of Cramer , 427 Md. 612, 622, 50 A.3d 1066 (2012) (quoting In re Application of Strzempek , 407 Md. 102, 112, 962 A.2d 988 (2008) ). In determining whether a candidate should be admitted to the Bar, we examine the applicant's "present moral cha......
  • Attorney Grievance Comm'n Of Md. v. Bleecker, Misc. AG No. 27
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • May 12, 2010
    ...reckless driving, eluding a police officer, and unsafe lane changing. In the Matter of the Application of Gregory John Strzempek, 407 Md. 102, 962 A.2d 988 (2008). We reasoned that the applicant's concealment of his conviction and arrest during his Character Committee interview, as well as ......
  • Attorney Grievance Comm'n of Md. v. Thomas-Bellamy, Misc. Docket No. AG 7, Sept. Term, 2016
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 22, 2016
    ...her law school grade point average in order to obtain an interview with a prospective employer); In re Application of Strzempek , 407 Md. 102, 962 A.2d 988 (2008) (failure to report conviction for driving while intoxicated); In re Application of Emsean L. Brown , 392 Md. 44, 895 A.2d 1050 (......
  • Attorney Grievance Commission v. Bleecker, Misc. Docket AG No. 27, September Term, 2009 (Md. App. 5/12/2010), Misc. Docket AG No. 27, September Term, 2009.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 12, 2010
    ...reckless driving, eluding a police officer, and unsafe lane changing. In the Matter of the Application of Gregory John Strzempek, 407 Md. 102, 962 A.2d 988 (2008). We reasoned that the applicant's concealment of his conviction and arrest during his Character Committee interview, as well as ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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