Law license is reinstated by high court Former Mandel aide wins divisive case

April 03, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

The state's highest court reinstated yesterday the law license of an Annapolis lobbyist and real estate broker disbarred in 1982 for accepting bribes from developers while serving under former Gov. Marvin Mandel.

Maurice R. Wyatt, 53, was reinstated by the Court of Appeals despite the unanimous finding of an attorney grievance review board that he failed to "overcome the taint of misconduct."

Mr. Wyatt, who served as appointments secretary for Mr. Mandel from 1969 to 1979, was convicted of bribery in 1980. He received a two-year suspended sentence, was fined $15,000 and two years later was disbarred.

The court said that although the 10-member review board unanimously rejected Mr. Wyatt's 1993 reinstatement request, a four-member inquiry panel that heard testimony unanimously recommended reinstatement.

The court adopted a suggestion of the Attorney Grievance Commission that Mr. Wyatt be required to complete the professionalism course required of new lawyers if he is to be reinstated.

Chief Judge Robert C. Murphy and Judge John C. Eldridge, both appointed by Mr. Mandel, abstained from the decision.

The decision comes after 23 political and business leaders, including Henry J. Knott Sr., former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, former Speaker of the Maryland House Clayton R. Mitchell Jr. and Sen. George W. Della Jr. wrote to the court on Mr. Wyatt's behalf.

Mr. Wyatt was the 33rd highest-paid lobbyist in Annapolis in 1992, when he earned $62,000 from six clients. But the review board said it was most troubled by Mr. Wyatt's relationship with the General Assembly.

The board cited Mr. Wyatt's employment of Mr. Mitchell's son, Clayton A. Mitchell, in his real estate firm, TMK Inc., while he was lobbying Mr. Mitchell and the legislature.

"Perhaps it was only bad timing and questionable judgment on Mr. Wyatt's part but it raised a red flag to the review board," said the board's report.

Mr. Wyatt did not return phone calls yesterday. His lawyer, Melvin J. Sykes, said the review panel was not as familiar with the case as the inquiry panel because it did not hear testimony, see witnesses, or listen to legal arguments.

"All the review panel gets is a cold transcript to read," he said.

Pub Date: 4/03/96

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