Dealing with devious attorneysHi, crime-fighters! Remember...

the Forum

April 26, 1993

Dealing with devious attorneys

Hi, crime-fighters! Remember those true-false test questions we had to answer in school way back when? Sure you do! Stop and think about it. We had a 50-50 chance of answering those questions correctly just by the way they were asked. But would you have passed those same tests by answering true-false questions with an essay? I hope not!

Well, now that we're all grown up, we can make our own rules, right? If we want to give a state trooper our library card when he or she asks for our driver's license, that's OK, right? No?

Why then are some individuals exempt from the rules the rest of us have to live by?

Take attorneys, for instance. Did you know in some ways they're above the law?

I contacted the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland about evidence which implicated an attorney in the abduction of my son. After corresponding and conversing with the commission, I believe an attorney can advise a client to deliberately violate a court order, and surprisingly, the attorney cannot be found guilty of any wrongdoing.

Now that we're all grown up, we can make our own rules, right? Some can. I asked the grievance commission a true-false question. All I get for an answer is an essay. The question? Can an attorney advise a client to deliberately violate a court order? The answer: "No one has the right to ask an attorney about advice he gives to a client."

Remember when you were a kid, how a privilege could be taken away, but a right couldn't? If attorneys don't have the right to advise a client to deliberately violate a court order, then perhaps it's time to revoke their privilege of exemption from the same consequences we all face when we deliberately break the law.

I'm told anything an attorney and his or her client may say to each other is confidential, and therefore privileged.

Laws which exempt devious attorneys from playing by the same rules as the people they represent aren't laws at all, they're privileges. Privileges can be taken away.

William A. McCann III

Jarrettsville

Stab in the back

If there had been a John A. Donaho in charge of the savings and loan business in our state, the taxpayers would not have been called upon to bail out that mismanaged group.

I can't understand why our governor is upset. He should be giving Mr. Donaho a pat on the back instead of a stab. Is it possible that he wants the taxpayers to bail out Blue Cross and Blue Shield?

Mary McCracken

Baltimore

In praise of Donaho

Granted, former Insurance Commissioner John A. Donaho was something of a loose cannon on the Maryland ship of state.

Granted, he bypassed the political niceties and tactfulness expected by a strong-willed governor who has an aversion to being upstaged. (Remember his ill-fated edict forbidding state employees from contacting the media, or responding thereto, without clearance from the executive office.)

Undoubtedly, too, Mr. Donaho kicked some powerful interest in the shins and raised the hackles of some legislators.

Yet no one can deny that Mr. Donaho was motivated by what was in the best interests of Maryland's citizens. He shone the spotlight on the financial misadventures and excesses of the state's largest health insurer, Maryland Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

He called attention to the need for strict observance of regulations already on the books, but which previous administrators observed more in the breech than in observance.

Although his technique may have left something open to question, Mr. Donaho has blazed a trail that his predecessor would do well to follow.

Abner Kaplan

Baltimore

Bad rail access

One of the reasons for the relatively low ridership of the Central Light Rail system may be the apparent lack of consideration for pedestrian access to some light rail stations.

For example, hundreds of potential users live or work within a 10-minute walk of the Falls Road station. However, from the north, a dangerously narrow shoulder on Falls Road and a large Mass Transit Administration fence lacking an access gate prevent safe pedestrian access to the station.

South of the station, discontinuous and poorly maintained sidewalks on Falls Road and Lake Avenue and the absence of a marked pedestrian shoulder on old Falls Road pose similar obstacles. Communication with the state on these issues led to little progress other than the response that these problems cross the jurisdictions of the MTA, the State Highway Administration and the Baltimore County roads department.

Providing safe pedestrian access to light rail stations would increase ridership, save energy and reduce the demand for parking at the stations.

I strongly urge the MTA to take the lead to coordinate the agencies involved to improve pedestrian access to all light rail stations.

Andrew L. Dannenberg

Baltimore

Helpful archivist

It was good to see an article about the Rev. Pete Hogan (April 16) and his work at the Josephite Archives. He was a tremendous help to me when I traced my roots, some of which were in black Catholicism.

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