In a letter to the editor published yesterday from retired...


January 05, 1996

In a letter to the editor published yesterday from retired Judge Marvin H. Smith concerning the Clients' Security Trust Fund, several lines were inadvertently omitted. As written, the letter actually stated, "The concept that the bar has a debt of honor to the public for the defalcations of its erring members began in Australia about 1929, spread to Europe, thence to Canada and then to the United States in the late '50s or early '60s."

The Sun regrets the error.

Bar fund not for malpractice

Your Dec. 22 story ("City lawyer disbarred") relative to the consent to disbarment by a Baltimore lawyer said, ''The Clients' Security Trust Fund . . . is designed to make partial restitution to the victims of legal malpractice.''

In common legal parlance ''legal malpractice'' means negligence. If this is what the writer meant, he is mistaken.

Rules unchanged in that regard since their original adoption in 1966 state the purpose of the fund is to cover ''losses caused by defalcations of members of the Bar of the State of Maryland . . . (except to the extent they are bonded).''


The concept that the bar has a debt of honor to the public for the defalcations (embezzlements or other misuses of funds) of its erring members began in Australia about in the late '50s or early '60s. It was heavily supported by the American Bar Association in the '60s, which had a special committee on the subject.

Maryland was, I think, the first state to have a compulsory statewide fund, It came into being July 1, 1966. Our assessment is limited by statute to $20 per lawyer per year, in sharp contrast to the assessment in some neighboring states.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, our fund paid out nearly $400,000 but is able to maintain a reserve of $1 million or better.

By original appointment of then President H. Vernon Eney, I was chairman of the state bar committee that shepherded the Clients's Security Trust Fund into existence. I then served as the first chairman of the trustees until my appointment to the Court of Appeals in 1968.

Marvin H. Smith


Politicians today have no courage

The debacle over balancing the budget and the three-ring circus resulting in a partial shutdown of the government should serve as a warning that we must begin to evaluate the people we are electing to serve us as lawmakers.

Today it seems that the act of being courageous and taking a stand has become anathema to our politicians. Instead of courage, many of our elected officials do what is most expedient for them. Instead of taking a stand for the good of all, the majority of our politicians go with the well-heeled, well-greased, and, oh yes, vocal minority. We, as a nation, it seems, have forgotten the meaning of courage and, as a result, our elected officials have followed suit.

Perhaps many of our problems could be solved if our elected officials were willing to take a stand, regardless of the feelings of the machine, regardless of the feelings of the well-to-do, and regardless of the feelings, in many cases, of their vocal constituents.

There was a time in local, state and national politics that elected officials were willing to take a stand for what they believed was right regardless of the circumstances. The great American, Daniel Webster, who embodied the ideals of the federal union, gave up his chance of becoming president by going against his section of the country to vote for the Compromise of 1850, which prevented Civil War for a while and also prevented Webster from becoming president.

Edmund Ross, whose name has been forgotten and abused, voted in 1868 against the removal from office of President Andrew Johnson and, as a result, ruined a brilliant political career and perhaps performed what one historian has called ''the most heroic act in U.S. history.''

Perhaps what we need today to solve the unsolvable problems is a few good elected officials with courage. Men who are willing to stand up and speak out for what they truly believe is true and best for all.

John A. Micklos


Slots can save Maryland racing

It would be very nice to have support from The Sun for an industry that "supports 20,000 Marylanders and gives the state economy a $1 billion annual boost." I doubt that you could say that about any other sport in Maryland, yet even your coverage of racing has lessened in the last few weeks.

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