The Maryland Court of Appeals has ordered Westminster defense attorney Stephen P. Bourexis to stop practicing law for six months beginning Dec. 10.
Mr. Bourexis, a fixture of the Carroll defense bar for more than 20 years, agreed to the six-month suspension last month after the Attorney Grievance Commission investigated his handling of $40,000 he borrowed from a longtime client and friend.
The grievance commission was prepared to file misconduct charges against Mr. Bourexis. By agreeing to the suspension, Mr. Bourexis avoids further investigation into the loans.
"An appropriate sanction for [Mr. Bourexis'] violation of the rules . . . is that he be suspended from the practice of law," said the joint petition for suspension filed by Mr. Bourexis and the Attorney Grievance Commission in the Court of Appeals.
Mr. Bourexis also was ordered to pay the $2,583 cost of the grievance commission's investigation into the matter.
Mr. Bourexis declined to comment on the suspension yesterday, except to say that his law partner, Judith S. Stainbrook, would handle his cases until he resumes his practice June 10. Ms. Stainbrook also declined to comment on the suspension.
The $40,000 in loans were the subject of a legal malpractice suit filed in June by Esther P. Lynn, a longtime friend and client of Mr. Bourexis. Ms. Lynn said he did not pay back the loans according to schedule and that he "did not use that degree of care and skill which a reasonably competent lawyer" would use in drafting the loan agreements.
The suit was dismissed this summer after Mr. Bourexis agreed to pay Ms. Lynn $506 a month until July 5, 1994, when the balance of the loans -- about $40,000 -- is expected to be paid off. The loans are secured by property Mr. Bourexis owns on Main Street in Westminster and on Falls Road in Baltimore County.
The lawyer, whose main practice is criminal defense work, borrowed the money from Ms. Lynn because he needed it and she offered to lend it, Ms. Stainbrook said in a June interview.
Sources say that Ms. Lynn was not the person who filed the complaint with the attorney grievance commission, but neither Mr. Bourexis nor his attorney, Joshua R. Treem of Baltimore, would say who made the complaint.
Mr. Bourexis, through his penchant for courtroom theatrics, has gained a reputation as a maverick in Carroll legal circles.
He has represented two of the three people in the county charged under Maryland's drug kingpin statute, along with several convicted drug dealers, a convicted child molester and, for about a year, Westminster marijuana-rights activist Pamela Snowhite Davis.
Though he doesn't win many high-profile cases, Mr. Bourexis has maintained a thriving practice that, according to court testimony, generates more than $200,000 a year.
He constantly tweaks drug prosecutors, claiming whenever he can that they violate the constitutional rights of his clients and his constitutional rights.