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Professionalism Commission Nearing


the End of its Work Introduction by James L. Otway James L. Otway is a partner at Otway Russo, LLP in Salisbury, Maryland. He received his law degree from Potomac School of Law


(J.D., 1978). Mr. Otway is a Fellow of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers and the Maryland Bar Foundation. He has served as President of the Wicomico County Bar Association (1990). He was appointed by the Maryland Court of Appeals to serve on the Maryland Professionalism Commission. He is on the Membership Committee of the MTLA, and a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and Maryland State Bar Associations.


On May 31, 2006 the Maryland Profes- sionalism Commission presented its final report and recommendations to the Court of Appeals. Its presentation was a culmi- nation of the work engendered by the comments and complaints of attorneys across the state regarding the decline in professionalism among their colleagues. A summary of the findings and recommen- dations of the Commission follows below. A full copy of the report is available on the Judiciary website at www.mdcourts. gov/professionalism/pdfs/finalreport.pdf. The Commission, including Judges


Robert M. Bell and Lynne A. Battaglia, will present its findings to members of the bar in a series of meetings across Mary- land. The dates, times and places of the meetings are set forth below. Your input and comments are encouraged and im- portant to the Commission and the Court of Appeals in their final consideration of the recommendations. Your attendance at these local meetings sends a message to your colleagues that professionalism


is alive and important to you. We look forward to seeing you at the meeting for your county. We hope you will read the entire report before you come and we as- sure you that your comments and insights are an important and necessary part of this process. The Commission’s Executive Summary follows.


Executive Summary On April 25, 2002, in response to a


recommendation by the Maryland State Bar Association that all licensed Maryland attorneys be required to complete a man- datory continuing legal education course on professionalism, Chief Judge Robert M. Bell of the Maryland Court of Appeals established the Maryland Judicial Task Force on Professionalism. The Task Force was composed of twenty-four Maryland lawyers: one from each Maryland jurisdic- tion and a lawyer reporter. After an initial organizational meeting, the Task Force, led by Court of Appeals


Judge Lynne A. Battaglia, embarked upon a state-wide “self study” of the concept of professionalism. This was accomplished through a series of town meetings held in each Maryland jurisdiction. The first meeting was held in September 2002 in Howard County and the last in July 2003 in Cecil County. Chief Judge Bell was present at each meeting, along with Judge Battaglia, Task Force reporter Nor- man Smith, and Jacqueline Lee, Assistant to Judge Battaglia. Participants included many District, Circuit, and Appellate judges, as well as practicing lawyers. The Task Force found a near unani-


mous perception that professionalism in our profession has declined over the years. In order to further professionalism as an important core value, the Task Force recommended that a Professionalism Commission be established and that the Commission, drawing on the findings of the Professionalism Task Force, iden- tify indicia of professionalism, develop standards of professional conduct to be published to the bench and Bar, and study specific ways to improve professionalism throughout the State. On November 10, 2003, the Maryland


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Court of Appeals adopted the Profession- alism Task Force’s recommendation to establish a Professionalism Commission. Meeting for the first time in March, 2004, the Professionalism Commission, through eight subcommittees, has acted upon the recommendations of the Professional- ism Task Force. Judge Battaglia chairs the Commission and Norman Smith is the lawyer-reporter. The Commission’s charge is to act on the findings of the Task Force: professionalism is more than ethics; there is a higher standard to be achieved by lawyers; specific indicia of professionalism must be identified. The Commission studied all facets of profes- sional conduct and formulated methods to raise professionalism standards in the legal community. In considering courses of action, the Commission examined the


(Continued on page 34) Summer 2006


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