Friday, June 8, 2007

Ficker suspended from practicing law

Appeals court cites lapses in representing clients

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Montgomery County lawyer Robin K.A. Ficker, a perennial candidate who has battled for tax reforms, faces an indefinite suspension from practicing law, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

The state’s highest court criticized Ficker’s carelessness in running a high-volume practice that specializes in criminal matters primarily in District Court and said he could reapply for permission to practice law in one year.

Ficker said he would apply for reinstatement. Four lawyers in his Bethesda firm, including his brother, Rodney Ficker, would handle clients during the suspension, he said. Robin Ficker will not appeal the ruling.

This is the fifth time Ficker has been accused of violating the state’s rules for attorneys, according to the 15-page opinion. Ficker, 64, was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1973.

Saying he was quoting William Shakespeare, Ficker said: ‘‘Sweet are the uses of adversity which like a toad...ugly and venomous ... yet hath a precious jewel in his head.”

Ficker said time away from his law practice would allow him to devote himself to campaigns to lower Maryland’s sales tax and to require a unanimous vote by the Montgomery County Council to exceed the spending limits set in the county charter – as well as giving him more time to work as a real estate broker.

The court’s ruling revolves around grievances filed by three former clients.

Ficker ran as an independent in the 2006 race for Montgomery County executive. He has sought other offices, including U.S. senator, as a Republican. He served a single term in the Maryland House of Delegates.

He often tries, and fails, to amend the Montgomery County Charter through ballot initiatives.

The ruling had a single concurring and dissenting opinion. Judge Dale R. Cathell, in agreeing with the suspension, called for Ficker’s disbarment.

The suspension is to take effect in 30 days.