Baltimore City Terminates Contract with Neo-Nazi Attorney Consultant

Baltimore Sun, August 18, 2016:

The Rawlings-Blake administration said it had fired Glen Keith Allen, 65, a contract employee who had worked on complex litigation for the city since February. The city began investigating Allen’s background after the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that he had a history of supporting the neo-Nazi National Alliance.

The real story – underreported – behind this is that Glen Keith Allen and his City-side boss George Nilson had both worked at mega-firm DLA Piper during different periods. Allen still (as of August 20) has a Client Protection Fund mailing address at DLA Piper’s Mount Washington office with the Maryland courts for his law license.  How a firm like DLA Piper – ironically, headquartered in its Baltimore office just over the City line at the edge of a predominantly Jewish and African-American neighborhood – had a neo-Nazi funder on its payroll is a horrifying mystery.

This well-publicized embarrassment to the city of Baltimore also cost George Nilson his job as city solicitor.

Maryland Lawyers’ Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(e) designates as misconduct the knowing manifestation:

by words or conduct when acting in a professional capacity bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status when such action is prejudicial to the administration of justice, provided, however, that legitimate advocacy is not a violation of this section.

There is a good argument that funding a group like the neo-Nazi National Alliance with one’s personal funds doesn’t constitute action in a “professional capacity.” A Southern Poverty Law Center report indicates that Glen Allen not only acted at various times as an attorney for the National Alliance but on at least one occasion donated $500.00 of his own money to the organization.

The representation of neo-Nazis or an alliance of neo-Nazis does not constitute endorsement of neo-Nazi views; MLRPC 1.2(b): An attorney’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities. However, do donating one’s own funds to neo-Nazis and then acting as their attorney in another context constitute, together, a manifestation of an 8..4(e) violation?

The following comment is offered in my personal, not professional, capacity.  I do not see how one can reconcile the Maryland Attorney’s Oath (Md. Code Ann., BO § 10-212) with personal support for the views of Nazism, white supremacy or the German Third Reich:

I do solemnly (swear) (affirm) that I will at all times demean myself fairly and honorably as an attorney and practitioner at law; that I will bear true allegiance to the State of Maryland, and support the laws and Constitution thereof, and that I will bear true allegiance to the United States, and that I will support, protect and defend the Constitution, laws and government thereof as the supreme law of the land; any law, or ordinance of this or any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Ten Rules of Lawyering

Rule 1: Get Paid Up Front
Rule 2: Don’t Win The Ethics War, Avoid the Ethics War (Foonberg the Great)
Rule 3: 90% of Law School is a Waste, but Which 90%?
Rule 4: Never Believe Career Services, Especially When They Tell The Truth
Rule 5: Law School Is a Terrible Investment; Make the Most of It
Rule 6: It’s Impossible to Kiss Up to a Court Clerk Too Much
Rule 7: “Garbage Law” Doesn’t Exist; It’s All Garbage and It’s All Gold
Rule 8: Swim With a Buddy
Rule 9: Flakes Gonna Flake (aka Screw-Ups Screw Up)
Rule 10: Integrity Is “Good Selfish”

AGC v. Marcalus and some advice to new attorneys

If you practice in MD, go read AGC v. Marcalus, though possibly NOT on your work computer.

A few points.

1) The attorney in question was barred one year before me, which means that he got his law license about one year before the words “World Wide Web” were well known.  I got barred in 1994, and around the time of my swearing in I learned that phrase, meaning that all of my legal education was pre-Net and essentially all of my practice post-Net.  The respondent was admitted in December 1993.  On the one hand, Respondent’s ethics education predated much of modern telephony and hand-held technology.  On the other hand, the Court of Appeals found his substantial experience in the practice of law since 1993 to be an aggravating factor, per well-established precedent and ABA guidelines.

2) Bar Counsel is not walking around looking for an opportunity to invade your sex life. Its attorneys and investigators have other things to do. Unless your dating life affects your professional work itself – sexting an unrepresented counterparty in this case or sexting one’s own client in a prior misconduct case by the same Respondent attorney – Bar Counsel doesn’t want to make your bedroom its business, and almost certainly never will (barring extremely bizarre or patently outrageous law-school scenarios.) But if you bring that part of your life into your professional life – by dating your subordinate, flirting with opposing counsel during a deposition and especially if you get involved sexually with your client, you are inviting a world of humiliation on yourself and the people you care about.

3) The wisest policy is the most conservative: a complete separation of your dating life and work. Don’t put the embarrassing details of your social life into the datastream of your work life, don’t let the people in your job and the people in your intimate life overlap unless it’s something stable and permanent (e.g. spouses as partners, etc.).  Dear heaven, don’t date clients, counterparties, opposing counsel, people in your firm.  I’d even recommend against dating fellow attorneys in your practice area in your town, though that’s admittedly very conservative advice. Don’t date your associates; sexual harassment by attorneys is explicitly against the DC rules and is probably by implication prohibited under MD Rule 8.4(d) and (e). Keep sexual innuendo out of the office, for multiple reasons.

If you want to have a dalliance, to do something foolish, fine: have your nonsense. Just do it (if you must) with a real estate agent across town or the owner of a boutique three zip codes away with no connection to your files, your clients or your firm. Maybe don’t sext, as well; maybe it’s fun and games but to Bar Counsel it’s discoverable electronically stored information.

4) Not every violation of your promise “at all times to demean myself fairly and honorably” (per the Oath you took before signing the Test Book) has an explicit black-letter rule section in the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct. Be aware that Rule 8.4(d) prohibits conduct that tends to prejudice the administration of justice, but that it’s in the case law that examples are found. To some extent, it is perhaps the “junk drawer” of the Court of Appeals; they put it there when no other obvious location suffices but a disciplinary response is needed to unfair or dishonorable conduct.

Earlier this year, an attorney caught a reprimand for calling his family-member client an obscene epithet in an email.  Judge Watts of the Court of Appeals wrote that unanimous decision, and wrote for a unanimous Court of Appeals in the Marcalus case as well this week.  Neither violation would have been as likely in the 1970s, where email did not exist, cell phones and texting did not exist; perhaps the foolishness of sending an indecent Polaroid or a handwritten or Selectric-typed epistle would have caused greater reflection (or maybe not).  Bottom line: the increase in technology in communications has created increased fora in which to have a bad day and make a serious lapse in judgment. If you have a Maryland law license, you should anticipate that your iPad and your cellphone are accountability zones for that license; disciplinary precedent makes that point clear.

Adam Reposa, Attorney at Law….

This report shows how attorney Adam Reposa of Austin has gotten jailed for contempt of court for using a lewd gesture at a prosecutor during a trial, made crazy ads and now created stickers bearing the seal of the City of Austin marking businesses as for “white people only” and affixed them to businesses in gentrifying neighborhoods in Austin, Texas.

Previously I suggested that attorney marketing by means of vulgarities was not so wise. Mr. Reposa’s “” impresses me neither, both because it promises something not objectively verifiable and it’s also just tacky, crude and lawyer-centered, not client-centered. Of greater concern is Mr. Reposa’s “Why Hire Me” page, in which Mr. Reposa states:

“Then once you are convinced that I will give you as good of a chance, if not a better chance, of beating your case as any lawyer alive, my staff will work with you to make a workable fee schedule.”

This is the sort of unverifiable claim that attorney ethics rules discourage – ESPECIALLY when made with the specific intent to persuade a perspective client to hire (as the title of that page suggests.”

The State Bar of Texas reports that Mr. Reposa underwent a “fully-probated suspension” for three years. Because the Maryland Bar does not use a disciplinary status, I do not know precisely what that means. Mr. Reposa was admitted to the Bar. Mr. Reposa was admitted to the Bar in September 2003 and graduated from the respected University of Texas School of Law in June 2001.