Braverman v. Bar Ass'n of Baltimore City, No. 108

CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtBefore BRUNE; DELAPLAINE; Parker
Citation209 Md. 328,121 A.2d 473
Decision Date13 March 1956
Docket NumberNo. 108
PartiesMaurice BRAVERMAN v. BAR ASSOCIATION OF BALTIMORE CITY.

Page 328

209 Md. 328
121 A.2d 473
Maurice BRAVERMAN
v.
BAR ASSOCIATION OF BALTIMORE CITY.
No. 108.
Court of Appeals of Maryland.
March 13, 1956.

Page 331

[121 A.2d 474] Harold Buchman, Baltimore, for appellant.

Osmond K. Fraenkel, New York City, for National Lawyers Guild, amicus curiae.

Howard H. Conaway and Charles E. Orth, Jr., Baltimore, for appellee.

Before BRUNE, C. J., and DELAPLAINE, COLLINS, HENDERSON and HAMMOND, JJ.

DELAPLAINE, Judge.

Maurice Braverman, who was admitted by the Court of Appeals of Maryland to [121 A.2d 475] the bar of this State on October 7, 1941, has appealed here from an order of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City disbarring him from the practice of law.

The Supreme Bench acted upon a petition filed by the Bar Association of Baltimore City on October 8, 1953. The petition contained the following allegations: (1) that appellant was admitted to practice before the Supreme Bench on November 1, 1941, when he took the oath required of attorneys; (2) that on April 1, 1952, he was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland of the crime of conspiracy to violate Section 2 of the Smith Act, 18 U.S.C.A. § 2385, and was sentenced on April 4, 1952, to pay a fine of $1,000 and to be imprisoned for a period of three years; and (3) that the Executive Committee of the Bar Association, acting upon the recommendation of the Grievance Committee, adopted a resolution that a proceeding be filed with the Supreme Bench for disciplinary action against him.

Appellant filed a demurrer alleging that neither the petition of the Bar Association nor the record of the case in the District Court contained any sufficient ground for disciplinary action against him.

Section 2 of the Smith Act provides as follows:

'Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or

Page 333

'Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

'Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof----

'Shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.'

On January 15, 1952, appellant and five others were indicted for conspiring to commit offenses against the United States by (1) advocating and teaching the duty and necessity of overthrowing the Government of the United States by force and violence; and (2) by organizing and helping to organize, as the Communist Party of the United States, a society, group, and assembly of persons who teach and advocate the overthrow and destruction of the Government of the United States by force and violence. The indictment specifically charged that appellant attended and participated in meetings of the Maryland District of the Communist Party in Baltimore on August 14, 1948, August 16, 1948, February 4, 1949, and March 19, 1949.

In March, 1952, the defendants were tried before Judge Chesnut and a jury. On April 1 the jury found the defendants

Page 334

guilty. On April 4 Judge Chesnut imposed the sentence upon appellant.

The defendants appealed, and the case was argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on July 1, 1952. On July 31, 1952, the Court affirmed the judgment. Frankfeld v. United States, 4 Cir., 198 F.2d 679, 684, 685.[121 A.2d 476]

Chief Judge Parker, speaking for the Court, said in the course of the opinion:

'The contention of the government on the trial was that the Communist Party of the United States had as its objective the overthrowing of the government of the United States by force and violence as speedily as circumstances would permit and that the defendants were active members and officers of the party, participated in its purposes and gave it active support with knowledge of its unlawful objective. We think that this contention was amply supported by the testimony.

'With respect to the purposes and activities of the Communist Party of the United States, there was evidence of a number of witnesses that it was actively teaching and advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence and the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat, as soon as circumstances would permit, and that it was training a hard core of party membership in methods of seizing and holding power and directing the course of revolution when a favorable opportunity for seizing power should arrive. * * *

'There was abundant evidence, not only that the Communist Party printed and circulated the revolutionary classics of communism, advocating the class struggle and the forcible seizure of power by the proletariat, but also that the party maintained schools in which members were indoctrinated in the principles and policies of the

Page 335

party and were instructed in the techniques to be followed in overturning existing governments and in seizing and holding power. Some members of the party were sent to Moscow for instruction; others were sent to schools maintained in New York City; and classes for instructing party members were maintained in Baltimore and other cities. Plans were made for infiltrating the army and navy with communists and to place communists in key labor positions in important industries.'

The petition of the Bar Association was heard before the Supreme Bench on June 20, 1955. The Bar Association offered in evidence a certified copy of the indictment of appellant and the docket entries of his conviction. Appellant offered a transcript of the trial of the case. On June 28 the Supreme Bench passed the order disbarring appellant from the further practice of law.

I.

At the outset appellant complained that the petition of the Bar Association did not specifically allege which ground of disbarment it relied upon for disciplinary action, and hence he did not have fair notice of what to meet.

The Maryland disbarment statute, as amended by the Legislature in 1952, Laws 1952, ch. 27, Code Supp.1955, art. 10, §§ 13, 16, 17, provides as follows:

'Charges of professional misconduct, malpractice, fraud, deceit, crime involving moral turpitude, or conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, against any attorney at law may be filed in any court where such attorney is admitted to practice by any bar association acting through its appropriate committee * * *. In addition, any bar association of the State, acting through its appropriate committee, may file charges of being a subversive person, as defined by the Subversive Activities Act of 1949, against any attorney at law, in any court where such attorney is admitted to practice * * *.

Page 336

'Every attorney who shall, after having an opportunity to be heard, * * * be found guilty of professional misconduct, malpractice, fraud, deceit, crime involving moral turpitude, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, or of being a subversive person, as defined by the Subversive Activities Act of 1949, shall, by order of the judges finding him guilty, be suspended or disbarred from the practice of his profession in this State. [121 A.2d 477]

'Every attorney who shall, after a hearing held, as hereinbefore prescribed, be found guilty of professional misconduct, malpractice, fraud, deceit, crime involving moral turpitude, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, or of being a subversive person, as defined by the Subversive Activities Act of 1949, shall have the right of appeal of the Court of Appeals of Maryland, as in civil cases, except the Court of Appeals shall have the right to review the entire proceedings and affirm, modify, alter or reverse the order from which said appeal is taken as the substantial merits of the cause and the ends of justice may require.'

The action of a court in exercising its power to disbar or suspend an attorney is judicial in character, but the inquiry is in the nature of an investigation by the court into the conduct of one of its own officers, and is not the trial of an action at law, as the order which is entered is only an exercise of the disciplinary jurisdiction which a court has over its officers. It is recognized in this State and generally in America that in such an investigation, mere forms not affecting its merits should not stand in the way of protecting the court and the public by appropriate action after a full hearing. In re Williams, 180 Md. 689, 23 A.2d 7, 11.

In Randall v. Brigham, 7 Wall. 523, 19 L.Ed. 285, 293, the Supreme Court of the United States, speaking through Justice Field, commented on this practice as follows:

Page 337

'It is not necessary that proceedings against attorneys for malpractice, or any unprofessional conduct, should be founded upon formal allegations against them. Such proceedings are often instituted upon information developed in the progress of a cause; or from what the court learns of the conduct of the attorney from his own observation. Sometimes they are moved by third parties upon affidavit; and sometimes they are...

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48 practice notes
  • Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Klauber, No. 5
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 10 Febrero 1981
    ...society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man." Braverman v. Bar Assn. of Balto., 209 Md. 328, 344, 121, A.2d 473, cert. denied, 352 U.S. 830, 77 S.Ct. 44, 1 L.Ed.2d 51 (1956). When applied to the context in which we deal with it here,......
  • Burke v. Md. Bd. of Physicians, No. 0513, Sept. Term, 2020
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 28 Abril 2021
    ...[persons].’ " Att'y Grievance Comm'n of Md. v. Walman , 280 Md. 453, 459, 374 A.2d 354 (1977) (citing Braverman v. Bar Ass'n of Balt. , 209 Md. 328, 344, 121 A.2d 473 (1956) ). The expression "moral turpitude," as developed at common law, referred to "infamous crimes, that precluded their p......
  • Doe v. Dep't of Pub. Safety & Corr. Servs., No. 125
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 4 Marzo 2013
    ...in purely civil matters. See Spielman v. State, 298 Md. 602, 609, 471 A.2d 730, 734 (1984) (quoting Braverman v. Bar Ass'n of Baltimore, 209 Md. 328, 348, 121 A.2d 473, 483 (1956)) (citations omitted) (“[I]n Maryland, ‘the prohibition of ex post facto laws applies only to criminal cases. Th......
  • Ricketts v. State, No. 167
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 6 Noviembre 1981
    ...289 Md. 446, 423 A.2d 578 (1981); Attorney Grievance Comm'n v. Walman, 280 Md. 453, 374 A.2d 354 (1977); Braverman v. Bar Assn. of Balto., 209 Md. 328, 121 A.2d 473 (1956). The question whether a crime involves moral turpitude under Maryland law does not depend, as the [436 A.2d 915] majori......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
48 cases
  • Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Klauber, No. 5
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 10 Febrero 1981
    ...society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man." Braverman v. Bar Assn. of Balto., 209 Md. 328, 344, 121, A.2d 473, cert. denied, 352 U.S. 830, 77 S.Ct. 44, 1 L.Ed.2d 51 (1956). When applied to the context in which we deal with it here,......
  • Burke v. Md. Bd. of Physicians, No. 0513, Sept. Term, 2020
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 28 Abril 2021
    ...[persons].’ " Att'y Grievance Comm'n of Md. v. Walman , 280 Md. 453, 459, 374 A.2d 354 (1977) (citing Braverman v. Bar Ass'n of Balt. , 209 Md. 328, 344, 121 A.2d 473 (1956) ). The expression "moral turpitude," as developed at common law, referred to "infamous crimes, that precluded their p......
  • Doe v. Dep't of Pub. Safety & Corr. Servs., No. 125
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 4 Marzo 2013
    ...in purely civil matters. See Spielman v. State, 298 Md. 602, 609, 471 A.2d 730, 734 (1984) (quoting Braverman v. Bar Ass'n of Baltimore, 209 Md. 328, 348, 121 A.2d 473, 483 (1956)) (citations omitted) (“[I]n Maryland, ‘the prohibition of ex post facto laws applies only to criminal cases. Th......
  • Ricketts v. State, No. 167
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 6 Noviembre 1981
    ...289 Md. 446, 423 A.2d 578 (1981); Attorney Grievance Comm'n v. Walman, 280 Md. 453, 374 A.2d 354 (1977); Braverman v. Bar Assn. of Balto., 209 Md. 328, 121 A.2d 473 (1956). The question whether a crime involves moral turpitude under Maryland law does not depend, as the [436 A.2d 915] majori......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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