A lawyer convicted of breaking into a home and zapping a kitten in a microwave oven says he shouldn't be suspended from the practice of law because his actions were the result of alcoholism and depression triggered by his wife's leaving him and a close friend's death.
Stanley E. Protokowicz Jr., a partner in the Bel Air law firm of Miller, Fry, Protokowicz and Birch, told the state Court of Appeals yesterday that the kitten's death was accidental.
At least one of the seven judges on Maryland's highest court found that hard to believe. "I have a great deal of concern about someone who would put forth an outright and blatant lie before the court considering his suspension," said Judge John F. McAuliffe.
Richard M. Karceski, Mr. Protokowicz's lawyer, said, "I would rather think it's not a lie, that he did this because he was drunk. . . . If he wasn't drunk, it wouldn't have happened."
Mr. Protokowicz pleaded guilty in Harford County Circuit Court Jan. 17 to breaking and entering and cruelty to animals in an Oct. 13 break-in at the home of Nancy Anderson Sanders, a friend's estranged wife.
Mr. Protokowicz admitted in court he was intoxicated the night he committed the break-in with his friend, Thomas Sanders. Mr. Protokowicz also testified he put the kitten in the microwave because it was underfoot, and he accidentally turned on the microwave while looking for a stove light.
In a plea bargain, Mr. Protokowicz received a $1,500 fine, a 15-month suspended sentence and 18 months' probation and was ordered to seek alcoholism counseling.
Mr. Sanders was convicted of breaking into the home on the 13th and a day earlier. Mr. Sanders received a two-year suspended jail sentence and 18 months' probation, was fined $500 and was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service.
The Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission sought Mr. Protokowicz's suspension because of the breaking-and-entering conviction, says James Botluk, assistant bar counsel for the commission.