Towson lawyers reprimanded, can still practice

September 02, 1999|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Maryland's highest court reprimanded yesterday two Towson lawyers who tried to persuade victims of a 1996 train crash in Silver Spring to become clients.

The Court of Appeals' decision spared Keith S. Franz and Judson H. Lipowitz a two-year suspension from practicing law, the punishment recommended by the agency that monitors attorney conduct.

"The respondents have never denied their misconduct or sought to minimize it," the opinion says.

The unanimous decision states Franz and Lipowitz admitted their wrongdoing quickly and withdrew as lawyers for the victims.

The night of the train accident in February 1996 that killed 11 and injured 26, the lawyers passed out business cards to rescued passengers watching late-night news about the crash at a Washington hotel. They called victims, visited their homes and made loans to them -- violating Maryland's attorney conduct rules, which forbid such actions to protect vulnerable people from overzealous lawyers.

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