The Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission has asked the state Court of Appeals to suspend a Bel Air lawyer following his January conviction for killing a tabby kitten in a microwave oven.
Stanley E. Protokowicz Jr., a partner in the Bel Air law firm of Miller, Fry, Protokowicz and Birch, pleaded guilty Jan. 17 to one count each of breaking and entering and cruelty to animals.
Protokowicz was given a 15-month suspended jail sentence and 18 months' probation. He also was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service, undergo treatment for alcoholism and pay a $1,500 fine. He faced up to three years in prison and a fine of $500 for the breaking-and-entering charge, and 90 days in prison and a $1,000 fine on the cruelty charge.
Melvin Hirshman, bar counsel for the Attorney Grievance Commission, said Wednesday that the motion to suspend Protokowicz from practicing law was filed Feb. 12. Mr. Hirshman said a decision on whether to recommend disbarment would be made later.
The commission began investigating the case after the cat's owner filed a complaint, but Mr. Hirshman said a motion to suspend a lawyer from practice is automatic upon conviction of certain crimes.
"How long Mr. Protokowicz would be suspended is up to the Court ofAppeals," Mr. Hirshman said. "He has until March 9 to reply, then a date for argument will be set."
In court, Protokowicz admitted to breaking into the home of Nancy Anderson Sanders Oct. 17 with her estranged husband, Thomas Sanders.
Protokowicz, who had represented Thomas Sanders in some of the couple's divorce proceedings, said that the two men were intoxicated when they broke into Mrs. Sanders' house. Protokowicz admitted to putting the cat in the microwave because it was underfoot, but said he accidentally turned the oven on while looking for the stove light.
Dick Karceski, a Towson lawyer representing Protokowicz, said Thursday he has filed a request for modification of his client's sentence.
"We're seeking probation before judgment; that would prevent him from having a conviction on his record," Mr. Karceski said. "He's verycontrite and he's been very forthcoming, and I think that's something that's seldom seen. Usually you see people pointing fingers elsewhere."
Harford Circuit Judge William O. Carr sentenced Thomas Sanders to
two years in jail on two counts of breaking and entering in the case.
He suspended the jail sentence, but gave Sanders 18 months' probation, ordered him to perform 40 hours of community service and fined him $500 plus $167 in court costs.