Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Pattison, No. 7

CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtArgued before MURPHY; SMITH; Mathias
Citation441 A.2d 328,292 Md. 599
PartiesATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND v. William H. PATTISON, Jr. Misc. (Subtitle BV)
Docket NumberNo. 7
Decision Date09 February 1982

Page 599

292 Md. 599
441 A.2d 328
ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND
v.
William H. PATTISON, Jr.
Misc. (Subtitle BV) No. 7.
Court of Appeals of Maryland.
Feb. 9, 1982.

Glenn M. Grossman, Asst. Bar Counsel (Melvin Hirshman, Bar Counsel, Alan D. Krauss and Kendall R. Calhoun, Asst. Bar Counsels, Annapolis, on the brief), for petitioner.

Joseph F. Lentz, Jr., Baltimore, for respondent.

Argued before MURPHY, C. J., and SMITH, DIGGES, * ELDRIDGE, COLE, DAVIDSON and RODOWSKY, JJ.

SMITH, Judge.

Page 600

Once again we are engaged in the very unpleasant task of disbarring an attorney. 1

[441 A.2d 329] Bar Counsel, acting pursuant to the provisions of Maryland Rule BV9 on behalf of the Attorney Grievance Commission, filed a petition with us seeking disciplinary action against William H. Pattison, Jr., a member of the bar of this Court since November 13, 1952. Two distinct sets of circumstances were involved, one concerning an estate and the other concerning a patent.

i The estate

Relative to the estate, Bar Counsel alleged a violation of Disciplinary Rule 1-102(A)(1), (3), (4), (5), and (6); DR 6-101(A)(1), (2), and (3); DR 9-102(A) (1) and (2); and DR 9-102(B)(1), (2), (3), and (4). 2 The trial judge, to whom we referred

Page 601

the matter pursuant to Rule BV9 b, found Pattison violated DR 6-101(A)(1) and (3), and Code (1957, 1976 Repl.Vol.)

Page 602

Art. 10, § 44(a), rather than finding that Pattison violated DR 9-102(A). Bar Counsel excepted, contending that the trial judge was clearly in error when he found no violation of DR 9-102(A). We agree.

Pattison became the personal representative of the estate of Marie Wanamaker on January 22, 1974. The estate was administered under the jurisdiction of the Orphans' Court of Montgomery County. The trial [441 A.2d 330] judge found, "When opened, the Estate contained approximately $30,000.00 in liquid assets, with another $191,000.00 being held in trust in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company."

Pattison filed several accounts in the office of the Register of Wills of Montgomery County. None of these accounts is a model of proper estate accounting. In fact, they are sadly deficient.

On February 2, 1979, a hearing was held before Judge Joseph M. Mathias in the Orphans' Court of Montgomery County. 3 The purpose of the hearing was to determine whether the estate could be closed and whether Pattison should continue as personal representative. At the time of that hearing, the attorney who pressed for closing the estate expressed a desire to examine bank statements and checks to ascertain whether all of the cash was in the bank. This

Page 603

examination took place in Judge Mathias' chambers. Upon the return of Pattison and the attorney to the courtroom, the attorney said:

"I think something has been accomplished. Unfortunately, the primary record which we were interested in, the bank statement, the pass books and bank statements and cancelled checks were not available. They are in-"

Pattison then said:

"I'm sorry, Your Honor, I didn't realize they were in a safe in my office. My secretary failed to take them out of the safe and put them in the file and I apologize to Mr. Stewart, but I think we have resolved that problem this morning, I hope."

Judge Mathias then passed an order, pursuant to the understanding of the parties, requiring the estate to be closed within twenty days.

On February 16, 1979, Pattison addressed the following letter to Judge Mathias:

"By Order of the Orphan's Court dated February 2, 1979, I, as Personal Representative of the above estate, was directed to complete administration of the estate on or before February 23, 1979. I have progressed with the work necessary to complete administration as directed.

"However, I now realize that it would be inappropriate for me to endeavor to prepare the Final Account and conclude administration for the reason that I earlier borrowed money from the estate assets. The fact that the money has been repaid, with interest, does not cure what I feel to be my disqualification to continue as Personal Representative. Certainly, the Register of Wills and C. Van Leuven Stewart will agree.

"Accordingly, it is the purpose of this letter to request that the Orphan's Court enter such Order as

Page 604

necessary to remove me as Personal Representative and to appoint a Special Administrator to conclude administration. By this letter I waive requirement of further notice and the right to appear prior to entry of such Order.

"Be assured that I stand ready to cooperate in every possible manner with such Special Administrator as may be appointed.

"A copy of this letter is being forwarded to the Register of Wills, C. Van Leuven Stewart, Esquire, and the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland."

Pattison did as he promised. He sent a copy to the Attorney Grievance Commission.

A hearing was held before Judge Mathias on October 15, 1979, in order that Pattison might show cause why he should not be removed as personal representative and, as Judge Mathias put it, "(t)o determine whether or not to hold Mr. Pattison in contempt for his failure to comply with the Court's Order of February 2, 1979."

[441 A.2d 331] It developed, as Judge Mathias found and as the trial judge in this case found, that Pattison had paid substantial sums of money from the estate account over to himself. A total of $32,474.55 appears to have been deposited in the estate account at the Maryland National Bank in Cambridge. On January 20, 1975, Pattison drew a check to himself in the amount of $2,000.00. He claims this was an advance on commissions. Before Judge Pollitt, who heard this case under Rule BV9, Pattison said in response to the court's question as to this being an advance against commissions:

"Yes, Your Honor, the first withdrawal I anticipated actually, initially, and erroneously anticipated, substantial commissions in the estate because the estate looked like it would be $225,000/$230, including the trust assets. I anticipated substantial commissions, and the first draw was the basic $2,000 or 10 percent of the first $20,000 allowable commission,

Page 605

intended to represent that as advance payment." 4

It developed that the total sum withdrawn by Pattison from the estate was $28,900, being as follows:

1/20/75 ... $ 2,000

2/28/75 ....... 500

4/4/75 ........ 500

5/21/75 ....... 500

7/3/75 ...... 2,500

7/21/75 ....... 800

9/5/75 ........ 400

9/11/75 ....... 500

9/19/75 ....... 600

9/19/75 ....... 200

12/12/75 ....... 400

12/12/75 ....... 400

12/12/75 ....... 100

12/24/75 ....... 500

1/13/76 ..... 1,000

1/23/76 ..... 1,000

2/23/76 ....... 500

3/4/76 ...... 1,000

5/12/76 ..... 1,000

6/6/76 ...... 1,000

9/9/76 ...... 1,500

9/28/76 ..... 1,000

11/15/76 ..... 2,000

12/3/76 ...... 2,000

12/17/76 ..... 2,000

1/11/77 ..... 1,500

4/15/77 ..... 1,000

5/6/77 ...... 1,000

5/31/77 ....... 500

6/16/77 ..... 1,000

-----

$ 28,900

Page 606

The record further reflects that Pattison deposited the sum of $28,404.65 to the account of the estate at The National Bank of Cambridge on February 8, 1979, six days after the hearing before Judge Mathias.

Pattison seems to have contended throughout this matter that these sums were not peculations on his part, but were loans from the estate to him. Of course, he as personal representative would have had no authority to loan estate money to himself. Judge Mathias removed Pattison as personal representative of the Wanamaker estate, but did not hold him in contempt. The trial judge believed Pattison's statement that he had no intent whatever to deprive the owner permanently of the money involved. He said, "We have not found any 'clear and convincing' evidence to indicate that Respondent harbored any intent to steal the monies or to reduce them to his sole permanent possession," although he did find Pattison's "conduct to be an inexcusable and unjustified breach of his fiduciary obligations to the Estate and a serious invasion of the integrity of the assets of the Estate."

ii The patent

Pattison is an attorney admitted to practice in the U. S. Patent Office. His activities in the representation of George T. Sendall relative to a patent are the basis for the second set of charges which Bar Counsel brought in the same petition with those charges we have previously discussed. Pattison was alleged to have violated DR 1-102(A)(1), (3), (4), (5), and (6); DR 6-[441 A.2d 332] 101(A)(3), and DR 7-101(A)(1), (2), and (3). 5 The

Page 607

trial judge concluded that Pattison violated DR 6-101(A)(3) in that he was neglectful.

In that case Pattison was retained to procure a patent for Sendall on what was dubbed the "Mad Baron's Zoaring Zeppelin," a type of kite. The Patent Office ultimately regarded the patent application as abandoned for failure to file proper ink drawings. Pattison was responsible for such filing.

There was clear and convincing evidence to support the conclusion of the trial judge.

iii Sanction

It is with a heavy heart that one considers the sanction to be imposed upon an attorney who has misused his client's funds. So often attorneys for one reason or another find themselves in a position where the flow of cash in their practice is insufficient to meet office overhead, family needs, and the like. Then comes the temptation to dip into funds...

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49 practice notes
  • Practice and procedure: Patent and trademark cases rules of practice; representation of others before Patent and Trademark Office,
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • 12 Diciembre 2003
    ...disbarment in Maryland for misconduct involving patent and non-patent matters); Attorney Grievance Commission (Maryland) v. Pattison, 441 A.2d 328 (Md. 1982); Nakamura [[Page 69502]] Harper, 1062 Off. Gaz. 433 (Jan. 28, 1986) (attorney excluded by USPTO after disbarment in Maryland for misc......
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • 12 Diciembre 2003
    ...disbarment in Maryland for misconduct involving patent and non-patent matters); Attorney Grievance Commission (Maryland) v. Pattison, 441 A.2d 328 (Md. 1982); Nakamura [[Page 69502]] Harper, 1062 Off. Gaz. 433 (Jan. 28, 1986) (attorney excluded by USPTO after disbarment in Maryland for misc......
  • U.S. v. Young, Nos. 90-1581
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • 5 Noviembre 1991
    ...not lend to himself); Attorney General v. Flynn, 331 Mass. 413, 120 N.E.2d 296, 302 (1954) (same); Attorney Grievance Comm'n v. Pattison, 292 Md. 599, 441 A.2d 328, 332 (1982) ("fiduciary may not make a loan, secured or unsecured, unto himself"); Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 1......
  • Attorney Grievance v. Whitehead, No. 53, September Term, 2006.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 19 Junio 2008
    ...money before the cessation of her employment. 364 Md. 376, 385-86, 773 A.2d 463, 468-69 (2001). See also Attorney Grievance v. Pattison, 292 Md. 599, 608, 441 A.2d 328, 332 (1982) 950 A.2d 809 (finding Rules violation because "[i]t is fundamental that a fiduciary may not make a loan, s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
47 cases
  • U.S. v. Young, Nos. 90-1581
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • 5 Noviembre 1991
    ...not lend to himself); Attorney General v. Flynn, 331 Mass. 413, 120 N.E.2d 296, 302 (1954) (same); Attorney Grievance Comm'n v. Pattison, 292 Md. 599, 441 A.2d 328, 332 (1982) ("fiduciary may not make a loan, secured or unsecured, unto himself"); Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 1......
  • Attorney Grievance v. Whitehead, No. 53, September Term, 2006.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 19 Junio 2008
    ...money before the cessation of her employment. 364 Md. 376, 385-86, 773 A.2d 463, 468-69 (2001). See also Attorney Grievance v. Pattison, 292 Md. 599, 608, 441 A.2d 328, 332 (1982) 950 A.2d 809 (finding Rules violation because "[i]t is fundamental that a fiduciary may not make a loan, s......
  • Attorney Grievance v. Hayes, No. 48
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 18 Enero 2002
    ...to his care. Such misconduct, absent extenuating circumstances, ordinarily warrants disbarment. Attorney Griev. Comm'n v. Pattison, 292 Md. 599, 441 A.2d 328 (1982); Attorney Griev. Comm'n v. Burka, 292 Md. 221, 438 A.2d 514 (1981). Boehm's contention that his inexperience and poor accounti......
  • Attorney Grievance Comm'n of Md. v. Hodes, Misc. Docket AG No. 61
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 23 Diciembre 2014
    ...to act fairly in two capacities and on behalf of two interests in the same transaction.See also Attorney Grievance Comm'n v. Pattison, 292 Md. 599, 608, 441 A.2d 328, 332 (1982) (“It is fundamental that a fiduciary may not make a loan, secured or unsecured (as was this), unto himself.”). Wh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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