THE ADVOCATE Newsletter of The Baltimore County Bar Association VOLUME XXIX, NO. 9
Over the past few weeks, America has been confronted with issues of racial bias and police brutality that have existed well before the death of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, or Freddie Gray. Now more than ever, we are being confronted with several truths that must be acknowledged in order for us to move forward. Racial bias and systemic racism continue and these biases undermine the publicâ€™s confidence in our judicial system. The Baltimore County Bar Association stands for justice and fairness for all people in our community. In order for our justice system to work, everyone must be treated fairly and all laws must be applied equitably. To achieve racial equality, we must work to end systemic racism. The legal community has a long history of fighting for civil rights and bringing about positive change; but we must not forget that the legal system also has been used as a tool of oppression. We must ensure that our members know that the Baltimore County Bar Association stands along with them and are committed to implementing necessary change. The Baltimore County Bar Association believes that Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with all members, coworkers, and clients, including persons of color. We stand in solidarity with all who demand justice and an end to police violence. We stand against racist rhetoric and actions.
We also support those individuals gathering across the country in peaceful protests. As individuals throughout America gather in a unified voice to seek systematic change to eliminate racism, promote equality, and end the use of undue and excessive force by law enforcement officers, the BCBA supports those individuals exercising their First Amendment rights. We are vehemently opposed to the use of force to disperse peaceful protestors. We acknowledge the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers, Stateâ€™s Attorneys, and judicial officers who are performing their jobs with honor, fairness, and integrity. Now is the time for us to work together with those allies to ensure accountability across the board. And, we insist that in every instance, the rule of law prevails.
The Baltimore County Bar Association needs your help as we confront these issues. Earlier this year, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee was formed to promote diversity amongst our members, within our community, and throughout our profession. This is one step BCBA has taken towards the commitment for change. As lawyers, we are uniquely suited to utilize our skills and expertise towards furthering justice and equality. We do this by providing legal services to individuals in need and our Pro Bono Committee assists with coordination of pro bono opportunities. We urge anyone interested in serving on either committee to contact Rachel Ruocco at email@example.com.
Planet Depos THE ADVOCATE
EXPECT WHEN YOU ARRIVE
C ALENDAR OF E VENTS
2019-20 Officers President Pres-Elect Secretary Treasurer
Hon. Michael W. Siri Jay D. Miller Stanford G. Gann, Jr. John G. Turnbull III
Executi v e Council Lisa Y. Settles Sondra M. Douglas Richard Grason VI Robert K. Erdman, Jr. T yler J. Nowicki Michelle D. Siri
Rebecca A. Fleming, Immediate Past President
Whitney E. Wilder, Young Lawyersâ€™ Chair
Ada m E. Konstas Committee Chair
Webinar, Ban kruptcy Du rin g COVID -19, 12pm, Zoom Vi rtual 5k Fund rai ser for The Y in Cen tral Maryland Stated Meeting of the BCBA, 4:30p m, Zoom Webinar, Paych eck Prot ecti on Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Recent Upd ates, Zoom Fami ly Law, Legislative & Case Law Up date & Status of Cou rt Reopenin g Polici es, 4pm, Zoom Webinar, Divorce Du ri ng COVID -19, 12pm, Zoom Webinar, Exp laining PT to Judges & Ju ries, 12p m, Zoom
Michael S. Barranco Committee Vice-Chair
Cont ributi ng Writers William Alcarese Michael Barranco Louis Hurwaitz Adam Konstas Raphael Santini Debra Thomas
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9. 9. The Advocate is a monthly publication of the Baltimore County Bar Association informing its members about current events relating to law. Articles do not necessarily reflect the official position of the BCBA and publication does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed.
The contents of advertisements are the responsibility of the advertisers and are not recommendations or endorsements by The Advocate.
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Membership Committee Meeting, 4:30p m, Zoom Pub li c Awaren ess & Speakers Committee Planning Meeting, 4:30p m, Pat riot Plaza ADR Committ ee Plann ing Meeting, 4p m, Zoom Solo & Small Fi rm Committee Plannin g Meeting, 3:30p m, Zoom Webinar, Perfect Storm, Why Now May Be the Best Ti me for Estate Planni ng, 12p m, Zoom Technology Committ ee Plannin g Meetin g, 4pm, Zoom Professi onali sm Committ ee Planni ng Meeting, 4p m, Zoom Fami ly Law Committee Planning Meeti ng, 4pm, Zoom Est ates & Tru st s Committee Planning Meeting, 5p m, Zoom Young Lawyers Committ ee Plannin g Meeting, 5p m, Zoom Memorial Committ ee Plann ing Meeting, 4pm, Zoom CLE Committee Planning Meet ing, 4p m, Zoom Real Propert y/S LLZ Committee Planni ng Meeting, 5pm, Zoom
Publication deadline: 10th of the month preceding publication.
A link to the entire Start-Up Plan for the Circuit Court for Baltimore County Following COVID-19 Emergency Closure can be found by visiting www.bcba.org and clicking on COVID-19 Updates.
BENCH/BAR UPDATE By Debra Thomas
There have been several instances during my 25-year career as an attorney that I have felt extreme pride. Being sworn in, the first jury trial, my first pro bono case where I secured alimony for a spouse, etc. I can say, however, unequivocally that I have never felt so proud of being an attorney as I have through this pandemic. The continuous outreach and efforts to help our community and each other has been remarkable. The timely communications, the webinars, the assistance with SBA loans and grants has been reassuring through a stressful time. As a member of the Bench Bar committee I witnessed swift action, timely information, teamwork among all legal sectors, willingness to listen, and patience. Though the courts have been physically closed, clerks, judges, and court personnel continue to work remotely to accept filings. And of course, M-DEC filings continue to be processed daily while there was still an opportunity to file non MDec filings in the separate drop box.
Requests for extensions of existing domestic violence orders are tasked for review to Judge Cavanaugh. Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS matters are being reviewed and set for a remote hearing by Judge Ballou-Watts if the juvenile is approaching his or her 1st birthday. A Chambers Judge is assigned daily to process routine matters and review any requests for ex parte relief. Juvenile Matters: Detention hearings are scheduled daily with a juvenile Judge through Zoom whenever needed. CINA shelters are reviewed daily with remote hearings set through Webex with a juvenile Judge. Guardianship Matters:
Requests for emergency hearings are screened The Bench Bar committee met on April 2, 2020. through the Guardianship Case Manager and referred Judge Cox reported: to a guardianship Judge for consideration. Remote Continued efforts to reduce the jail population in the hearings will be set when appropriate by Jessica who can be contacted at Baltimore County jail while at the same time Labenberg, Jessica.Labenberg@mdcourts.gov. considering public safety. Non MDEC filings can be filed in the drop box with a Marriage Licenses are not being processed except in emergency circumstances such as imminent separate box for Land Records. deployment, serious illness, etc. Requests for Bail Reviews and habeas petitions are handled via emergency consideration must be made in writing to video at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 15 or 18. Remote the licensing department at participation can be arranged by contacted Phil firstname.lastname@example.org. These are Pokorny at Philip.email@example.com. reviewed by the Administrative Judge who will VOP bench warrant hearings are scheduled the authorize remote issuance of a license in appropriate morning after pickup on the video bail docket. circumstances. Family Law Issues: Requests for emergency hearing are tasked for review daily by Judge Jakubowski with remote hearings when appropriate. Domestic violence petitions pending final hearing will be set the week courts reopen. Requests for other interim consideration are tasked for review by Judge Jakubowski. THE ADVOCATE
As the length of this closure extends, the Bench/Bar Committee will explore ways to promote remote resolution of civil and family law matters. Settlement conferences that have been postponed will be rescheduled, and upcoming conferences will be scheduled with remote participation. Questions concerning remote settlement conferencing can be sent to Abby Cohen at Abigail.Cohen@mdcourts.gov. Family law matters
BENCH/BAR UPDATE By Debra Thomas
that are fully resolved can also be scheduled for remote hearing by contacting Abby Cohen.
The Bench Bar Committee met again on April 9, 2020 remotely
The District Court report was given by The Honorable Dorothy Wilson.
District Court Report made by Judge Dorothy Wilson and Maria Fields
The District Court has been attempting to reduce the jail population. The following prisoners have been reviewed to be released – prisoners who have less than 30 days to serve, prisoners with health issues, FTA bench warrants and VOP bench warrants.
Precincts 2, 3, 6 and 12 have video equipment in order to do initial appearances with the Commissioner’s Office at the new Catonsville courthouse. All the charging documents are being faxed to the Commissioner’s Office and the police stations.
The Commissioners in the new Catonsville District Court are doing all the initial appearances. The Essex and new Catonsville District Court are doing Statements of Charges and Protective Orders.
Attorneys can access the bail reviews by phone. Please call the Clerk’s Office to facilitate the call-in process.
When entering the District Court, the Bailiffs have been ordered to follow a questioning procedure for all visitors.
Clerks are accepting mail and only essential personnel are working in the courthouses.
The week the District Court opens there will not be any criminal cases. The cases will consist of Protective Orders, Peace Orders and UPOS.
Judge Ensor and Judge Robinson are attempting to settle civil cases, the Judges are being very liberal in extending Scheduling Orders.
Towson Police Station has the facility to do video initial appearances. Prisoners will not be taken to the Commissioner, all will be done by video.
Judge Jakubowski is resolving Family Law matters. She is handling all the emergency requests.
There are three Judges at the new Catonsville court house and two Judges in Essex court house to resolve matters. The Old Walker Avenue Court house is closed. * Probationer and people in pretrial are reporting via telephone. There are no evictions – residential and nonresidential. The mental health hearings will be done remotely.
The State Hospital is not accepting new Defendants. Judge Tirabassi will be conducting the Mental Health Docket. The shuttle bus continues to run from Towson to the new Catonsville District Court.
Circuit Court Report: Judge Kathleen G. Cox
The Magistrates are doing uncontested divorce matters which have attorneys on both sides. The Jury trials will resume six weeks after the start date of the Court opening. We are all awaiting Judge Barbara’s directive with regard to Court openings. Judge Cox asked the Bench Bar Committee to form a small committee in order to field questions from the Bar and to disseminate information. The Circuit Court is holding bail reviews. Please contact Philip Pokorny at Philip.Pokorny@mdcourts.gov. Tim Sheridan reported that staff is available by phone or email. The Clerk of the Court report was given by Julie L. Ensor.
Continued on page 8 June 2020
BENCH/BAR UPDATE By Debra Thomas
The Judicial Information Systems (JIS) Information Security has been advised by media and federal agencies of an emerging trend of malicious activity occurring in video- teleconferencing (VTC) platforms in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
L. Chase reported that there is not much news from Baltimore City other than Judge Phinn may be hearing guilty pleas. On a good note, the Portrait Committee continues to work on completing three or four portraits in the Fall. The Harford County Bar Zoom, when not configured properly, is riddled with report was given by Debra G. Schubert to advise that security and privacy issues. Teleconferences can be the District Court Judges are rotating every 4 days so disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and that one Judge is threatening messages. Scott D. Shellenberger gave the State’s Attorney Remember Skype for Business is the approved Report noting that there are 130 ASAs working from technology for video- teleconferencing and we have home on their laptops. Kudos to Scott for helping with the mail in the office. The Felony Review unit is ensured the proper security and privacy settings are in working, but the good news is that crime is down in place. Baltimore County. If you have any questions, call the JIS Service Desk He is attempting to find a resolution for all the at 410-260-1114. Preliminary Hearings in the system. The office The Executive Council report was given by the continues to review cases at the jail for for dismissal Honorable Michael W. Siri. or early release. No one has been arrested for The Bar Association is continuing its efforts to inform violating the Governor’s Orders to date. the Bar. A bi-weekly newsletter will continue to be The Public Defender’s report was given by James sent to the Bar members. Dills. Due to technical virus in the computer system, There is a Supply Drive to donate supplies and food emails were down, but the problem is almost to GBMC. Please check the Baltimore County resolved. The Office of Law report was given by website. Gregory Gaskins. Any attorney is free to make other Law Day is cancelled. Awards will be handed out on arrangements to schedule an appointment to meet October 15, 2020. Mark your calendars. Judge with his or her client outside the adjusted hours by Kathleen G. Cox will receive the Law Day Award. calling the jail: Major Robert Alford (410) 512-3405 or the shift captain (410) 512-3235 or shift supervisor Mary Sanders will receive the Judy Ritchie Award. (410) 512- 3232. The change in hours was made for A huge thank you to Christopher W. Nicholson and operational and safety concerns and reflected a lack Mary R. Sanders for their donation for meals to of usage during periods of the previous visiting hours. GBMC workers. The Honorable Will Somerville from the Office of Judge Arthur M. Frank from the Orphan’s Court Administrative Hearings reported the office is hearing reported that automatic extensions have been given emergency matters and that three new judges were for Accountings that are due. There is a bin in the appointed. lobby of the Circuit Court in order to drop off papers. The Bench Bar Committee looks forward to the The Orphan’s Court is accepting emails, phone calls suggestions from the bar to open our courts with the and conference calls. Magistrate Wendy Schenker safety of employees and our community in mind. reported the Magistrates are hearing uncontested divorces where parties are represented and are using Webex and telephone to resolve these matters. Harry THE ADVOCATE
BENCH/BAR UPDATE By Raphael Santini
The May 21, 2020 meeting of the Bench Bar Committee was called to order by Committee Chair, Christopher W. Nicholson. The meeting was conducted via zoom or telephone. The Honorable Dorothy Wilson gave the District Court report. Baltimore County Courts had its first employee with the Coronavirus at the Towson/ Catonsville Court. The employee is recovering and contact tracing was used in order to prevent the spread. All people who had contact with the employee have been notified and are in quarantine. The Court House was closed for a day in order to sanitize the Court House. The Health Department and other agencies were notified of the situation. The building has been reopened based on CDC guidelines. Currently, we are waiting for Opening Orders by the Court of Appeals. This will determine how the District Court will proceed. Judge Wilson has been on many conference calls with Judge Morrissey and the other County and City Administrative Judges. The old Catonsville Court is currently closed. The Towson Court location construction is proceeding; however, the opening date is unknown. The shuttle bus from Towson Court to Catonsville Court will continue until the Towson Court reopens. The Commissioners, when doing interviews, are collecting all the information possible so the person can be contacted by the Court for future proceedings. Maria Fields gave the District Court Administrative report. The District Court plans to keep the Court sanitized as much as possible. The following methods will be used: the bathrooms will be cleaned every three hours; the doors have been modified in order to be opened with an elbow; elevators are being cleaned every three hours; Court rooms are being cleaned daily; there are sanitizers throughout the District Court building; the security devices at the Court House doors will be automatically monitoring temperatures; and, there are plexiglass partitions between the Clerks and the public. The Clerk’s Office is still working; however, they are down 13 people. The Clerk’s Office is open for telephone THE ADVOCATE
calls and there is a drop box at the Court House. The Honorable Kathleen G. Cox gave the Circuit Court. The Town Hall was a success. The Bar members were invited to attend. We are waiting for Judge Barbara to give the new Order. Judge Ensor and Judge Robinson have been doing settlement conferences. They have been able to settle 30% of the cases. Judge Jakubowski and Judge Cavanaugh have been resolving Family Law cases. *Masks will be required in order to enter the Court House.* There will be CDC procedures enforced at the Court House. The goal is to reduce the number of people in the building at one time. Timothy Sheridan gave the Administrative Office of the Circuit Court report. The staff has been reduced in the Court House and is still operational. With respect to air quality, the air filters will be replaced on a regular basis in order to assist with air quality. Julie L. Ensor gave the Clerk of the Circuit Court report. The Clerk’s Office will have a staggered reopening. All the doors in the Clerk’s Office will be open. They are stockpiling PPE equipment. The clerk’s Office will have plexiglass windows. The staff has been working on a rotating basis and are teleworking. The number of people in the Clerk’s Office on the second floor is being reduced. The MDEC System has been very helpful with the Clerk’s work. The Honorable Michael W. Siri gave the Executive Council report. The Bar Association is continuing to inform the Bar members. There have been weekly emails. In addition to information, there are wellness programs and bingo. The meeting in June will be virtual. Both Town Hall meetings for the District Court and Circuit Court were well received by the membership.
Continued on page 10
BENCH/BAR UPDATE By Raphael Santini
The Honorable Arthur M. Frank gave the Orphan’s Court report. There is at least one Judge in the Probate Court daily. Hearings will start June 8, 2020. The hearings will be staggered. Because of the backlog of cases, hearings will be scheduled in the afternoon. The participants of the hearings will be waiting outside to be called into the hearing. There will be plexiglass between the Judges and the participants. There is a drop box in the Circuit Court lobby. Magistrate Wendy Schenker gave the Magistrate’s report. Baltimore County has a new Magistrate. Mr. Michael McBee is the new Magistrate who will start June 8, 2020. Magistrates are hearing uncontested divorces and scheduling conferences remotely.
Alaina L. Storie gave the Family Law report. Our Legislative and Case Law Update program that we have to end each bar year had originally been scheduled for May 14th with a happy hour to follow. That was cancelled, and we are working to hold a virtual update, and are in the process of confirming our speakers and securing a new date.
has been working hard with Judge Cox and Judge Wilson. He is working on the office policy for the future. All of the Assistant Public Defenders do not have laptops. Leonard Shapiro gave the Criminal Defense Bar report. Both the Circuit Court and District Court will seriously consider postponement requests by counsel based on counsel’s age during the Covid period. The Assistant State’s Attorney assigned to the case can be e-mailed by using the Assistant’s first initial then last name followed by @baltimorecounty.gov. The Honorable Will Somerville gave the office of Administrative Hearings report. There is a probability that the Office of Administrative Hearings will open on June 8, 2020. Please consult the OAH website.
Debra G. Schubert gave the Harford County report. Harford County is in Phase One. The Harford County Bench Bar did not meet; however, there is a meeting scheduled for June 3, 2020. Whitney E. Wilder gave the Young Lawyer report. We had hoped to postpone the bull roast scheduled for this spring to the fall and still have the proceeds benefit President Siri’s charity; however, it is clear that will not be possible so we have decided to cancel the bull roast. Nicole Rush will take over as chair of the young lawyers committee in July. Scott D. Shellenberger gave the State’s Attorney’s Office report. There are 130 ASAs working from home. All the filings are up to date. The office will be returning on June 8, 2020 in shifts. The support staff will be rotating. There are over 300 preliminary hearings which have to be scheduled. The jail population has been reduced. James Dills gave the Public Defenders’ report. He THE ADVOCATE
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL - MICHELLE SIRI By Michael Barranco
of Arts degree from The College of William and Mary.
Michelle Siri joined the Executive Committee in 2019 and is slated to serve as President of the Association during the 2028-29 bar year. Michelle has also served as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Membership Committee and Vic-Chair and Chair of the Pro-Bono Committee. In 2018 Michelle was the recipient of the BCBA Judith P. Ritchie Award. Since January of 2015, Michelle has been the Executive Director of The Women’s Law Center of Maryland, Inc., which is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated towards ensuring access to justice and advocating for physical safety, economic security and autonomy on behalf of women across the State of Maryland, with over 15 staff members and 4 separate offices. Prior to becoming Executive Director of The Women’s Law Center, Michelle has experience both in private practice and in service as a government attorney. She has worked as an attorney in the Office of Program Law at the Social Security Administration and an Assistant Attorney General representing the Department of Juvenile Services and the Governor’s Office for Crime Control and Prevention. She began her legal career working for five years as a civil litigator at the law firm of Segal, McCambridge, Singer & Mahoney, Ltd. after serving as a law clerk to the Visiting Judges in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Michelle received her Juris Doctor, with Honors, from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and received her Bachelor THE ADVOCATE
Having now completed her first year on the EC, Michelle notes how impressed she has been with the historical knowledge, commitment and dedication of the other members serving on the Committee. Michelle’s first year on the EC was particularly unique for two reasons, the first reason being that she was married to the Association’s President, Judge Michael Siri, and the second reason being the advent of the COVID-19 public health crisis. With respect to the latter, Michelle reports that although the Executive Committee has been required to meet via Zoom, there is no loss of enthusiasm and effort on the part of the Executive Committee to serve the membership. To the contrary, Michelle, notes that there has been a particular emphasis and urgency, under President Siri’s leadership, to make sure that the BCBA is providing the information and resources needed by its members. With respect to serving the EC while her husband was President, Michelle says that she greatly enjoyed the experience. They had started their careers interacting as civil litigators in asbestos defense, but over time their careers have taken different paths. Serving on the EC together, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis created a new opportunity for them to work together professionally, although Michelle admits that their family dinner conversations at times may have been dominated by BCBA issues, which may or may not have been interesting to their two pre-teen sons. She also noted with good humor that having two persons with the name “M. Siri” on the EC created its share of email address confusion. Aside from her professional pursuits and her many bar association activities (both with the BCBA and other associations), Michelle enjoys spending time with her family, baking and cooking, hiking and running (she has completed triathlons). She says she is “obsessed” with her new Peloton.
EMOTIONAL RESILIENCE DURING COVID-19 & BEYOND By Michael Barranco
On April 30, 2020 Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, the Director of the MSBA Lawyer Assistance Program, presented a free webinar to BCBA members on the subject of Emotional Resilience During the COVID19 Pandemic. The Program was chaired by PresidentElect, Jay D. Miller and attended through remote Zoom video by many BCBA members. Ms. Caplan discussed what to expect in these times of uncertainty, including the possibility of feeling unsettled, overwhelmed and experiencing numbness, fear, disbelief, anxiety and depression. She explained that anxiety is an understandable reaction and suggested several strategies to deal with these feelings, including avoiding information overload, having the patience to deal with something new, avoiding dealing with problems with addictive behaviors, making decisions with intent, using mindfulness techniques and exercising. With respect to “information overload” Ms. Caplan suggested that if the 24/7 news cycle is causing undue anxiety, limit news consumption to a brief daily update. Specifically, Ms. Caplan suggested finding your “anchors.” This includes continuing, to the extent possible, your daily routine before the disruption of the crisis, keeping to a daily schedule and going back to what calms your mind—such as exercise, outdoor activity or a calming hobby. Ms. Caplan also noted that it is important to be kind to yourself, continue
with mental health or addiction treatment if applicable, and asking for help. Ms. Caplan suggested and demonstrated a physical calming technique known as a vagal refresh exercise. Ms. Caplan presented a helpful Quick SelfAssessment for all members consisting of a series of questions. These include asking yourself if you are anxious or having trouble sleeping, unable to relax without alcohol or drugs, having trouble getting work completed, noticing an increase in errors, losing interest in things you used to enjoy, experiencing emotional numbness or having suicidal thoughts. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, Ms. Caplan urged members to call the MSBA Lawyer Assistance Program (888-388-5459).
Services provided by LAP are free, confidential and available to all Maryland lawyers, judges and law students and LAP can help with a broad range of problems and personal concerns, ranging from stress, anxiety, depression, addictions of all kinds and work/ life balance. She noted that LAP has a COVID-19 Health and Wellness website page and is facilitating a COVID-19 Support Group every Wednesday at 23pm (through at least the month of May). To join the support group follow the following link: https:// meet.google.com/xeg-skkp-mev or by phone (504) 603-6007 PIN No.: 930 664 490#
JUST BE NICE, OKAY? By Louis N. Hurwitz
At this writing, we are experiencing a series of events of epic proportions. The COVID-19 pandemic is lifechanging in some of the ways the Great Depression, World War II and 9/11 profoundly affected those who lived through those events. You may wonder what living through tragic events has to do with civility and professionalism in 2020. The answer lies in what we will take from these pandemic times of widespread illness, home confinement, economic upheaval, and concerns about our loved ones and ourselves. Sometimes it takes events that shake us to our core for us to undergo a reckoning of our life and, specifically, how we interact with others, both professionally and personally. This applies not only to our relationships with family, friends, and acquaintances, but my focus here is on how we treat fellow members of the bar, support staff, and others with whom we interact on a professional basis. Many people, after experiencing a health, financial or personal crisis of some sort take inventory of their lives and take time to reflect. The important thing is that we not leave the introspection behind and fail to take advantage of this great opportunity to improve our profession and ourselves. I realize that conflict is usually synonymous with legal proceedings. For many, the hallmark of our profession is what the late, legendary trial attorney Edward Bennett Williams used to call “contest living.” The outcome is paramount as attorneys battle and zealously represent clients within the bounds of the law. I also recognize that the majority of attorneys vigorously oppose each other in the legal arena as gentlemen and gentlewomen. Most judges treat litigants with respect and dignity. Lawyers most often treat colleagues and support staff with civility.
The reality is that most members of our profession do not treat people like the star of one my least favorite television shows, Judge Judy, interacts with many of the “litigants” before her. I understand the binding arbitration sessions on television provide entertainment for the masses, but they also help form skewed perceptions of the way litigants are, and THE ADVOCATE
should be, talked to in and out of court. As an attorney and retired administrative law judge, I cringe every time I hear the star of the show, retired New York Family Court Judge Judith Sheindlin, actually calling litigants idiots and jerks or just plain stupid on a run-of-the mill day. On a recent broadcast, Judy remarked to a litigant, “There is something wrong with you.” She is also known to snap at them, “Shut up,” “I don’t care what your evidence is,” or “I don’t care about your feelings.” Occasionally, Judge Judy amuses herself and her audience by openly mocking those before her. Often, the vitriol is barked out at a high volume and is accompanied by a heaping dose of sarcasm. These are only a small sampling of actual quotes from typical Judge Judy episodes. My point is that there are still some among us who seem to emulate Judge Judy rather than model the overwhelming majority of the fine attorneys and jurists who provide great examples for the legal community and beyond. These thoughts extend not only to lawyers and those in judicial and quasijudicial positions, but also to those who serve in mainly administrative and other roles within the legal profession. An article surfaced online last December, authored by a former judicial law clerk who was allegedly the victim of physical, verbal and emotional abuse from a now-retired judge who sat in a Maryland subdivision other than Baltimore County. The account was detailed and, if true, very disheartening, not only for its content but because it appears that mistreatment of that judge’s subordinates may not have been a secret within some segments of the local legal community. Whether poor treatment comes from lawyers and is directed at other lawyers, clients or court personnel, is handed out by judges who lash out at underlings, litigants or attorneys, or is meted out by members of the bar serving in an administrative capacity who are vitriolic, insensitive, and even cruel to lawyers and non-lawyers alike, we need to do better to bring attention to such mistreatment.
Continued on page 15 June 2020
THE SUPREME COURT HOLDS THAT TITLE VII OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 PROHIBITS EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND TRANSGENDER STATUS By Adam E. Konstas On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in which it held, in a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Gorsuch, that Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of an employee’s “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” The term “sex” was subject to decades of debate. Some argued in favor of an expansive view of the law to protect employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and transgender status, while others argued in favor of a narrow interpretation of Title VII, whereby the term “sex” referred solely to the binary “male/female” classification. Out of this debate grew a body of case law focused on the concept of “sex stereotyping,” initially recognized by the Court as actionable under Title VII in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989). However, until this month, the Court has never explicitly ruled whether Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status themselves. The Court was called upon to determine whether Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status in the consolidated cases Bostock v. Clayton County, Altitude Express v. Zarda, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC. These cases involved three lawsuits brought by employees alleging discrimination based on their LGBTQ+ status. In Bostock v. Clayton County, a child-welfare-services coordinator was fired after he joined a gay softball league. In Altitude Express v. Zarda, a skydiving instructor was fired after telling a female client that he was gay before a tandem jump. Both men contended that they were terminated for their sexual orientation. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC was THE ADVOCATE
brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Aimee Stephens, a transgender employee who alleged that she was discharged from her job as a funeral director after disclosing that she intended to live and work as a woman. In its June 15, 2020 decision, the Court addressed both forms of discrimination in a single, consolidated ruling, and held that the term “sex” in Title VII encompasses discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status. Writing for the majority, Justice Gorsuch explained that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status requires an employer to intentionally treat employees differently because of their sex – a practice prohibited by the plain meaning of the statute. Justice Gorsuch wrote that “[a]n employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex.” Thus, “[s]ex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.” Although Justice Gorsuch noted that few in 1964 would have expected Title VII to apply to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status, the Court gave no weight to the legislative history of Title VII because he found the language of the statute clear an unambiguous in its prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex, which necessarily included sexual orientation and transgender status. Justice Alito wrote a dissenting opinion, which Justice Thomas joined, in which he criticized the majority for overstepping its bounds within the Constitutional framework of separation of powers by revising, rather than interpreting Title VII, stating – “There is only one word for what the court has done today: legislation.” Justice Kavanaugh issued a separate dissent in which he shared the view that under the Constitutional limitations of separation of
THE SUPREME COURT HOLDS THAT TITLE VII OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 PROHIBITS EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND TRANSGENDER STATUS By Adam E. Konstas powers, it was Congress’s role, not the Court’s to amend Title VII. He further stated that Title VII, strictly as drafted, does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status, but went out of his way to acknowledge the “important victory achieved today by gay and lesbian Americans.” Prior to this ruling, less than half of the fifty states banned employment discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. Maryland is one of those states, as the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, among other protected classifications. See Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t § 20-606(a)(1)(i). The BCBA recognizes the societal impact of this landmark decision and the importance of diversity and inclusion in the practice of law and the justice system. As part of its efforts to promote full and equal participation in the profession and eliminate bias not only in the legal profession, but the justice system as a whole, the BCBA created a “Diversity and Inclusion” ad hoc committee during the 20192020 bar year. Stay tuned for more updates on the BCBA’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and the work of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
JUST BE NICE, OKAY? By Louis N. Hurwitz
The harsh reality of what some people are and what they can be was brought home to me many years ago when I received a condolence card from a fellow bar member who possesses some of the disturbing qualities noted above. The note in the condolence card was a brief, yet kind and moving offer of support upon the loss of one of my parents. The person’s words moved me greatly, at which time I thought, “Why can’t this person be like this on a regular basis?” Subsequent and regular interactions with the aforementioned attorney over many years led me to conclude that the person’s condolence note was only a brief and temporary departure from that person’s regular conduct in the professional realm. While examples of poor treatment of others as reported in public Attorney Grievance Commission and Judicial Disabilities Commission cases can be extreme, they are very instructive. My message, in this unprecedented time in our lives, is to stop and consider the way we treat everyone, not just fellow members of our profession. Civility and professionalism should never be compromised, regardless of your role in the legal system. You can still carry out your responsibilities, be tough, when necessary, remaining fair, civil, professional, and polite while performing those duties. At the risk of oversimplifying my point, I will leave you with the words of my grandson’s three-year-old day care classmate, who responded to a child who had been mistreating him that day by urging the child, ”Just be nice, okay?”
FAMILY LAW - OUR FAMILY WIZARD By William F. Alcarese, Jr.
QUARANTINE BINGO! By William F. Alcarese
During the evenings of April 30, 2020 and May 28, 2020, the BCBA virtually held Quarantine Bingo via Zoom. By nature, many attorneys are individuals with a personality that enjoy camaraderie. Our members are no different, and I submit there is significant camaraderie and collegiality amongst our members. We are all fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful association. As such, Bingo was a welcomed distraction and opportunity for many members to virtually connect with one another during the quarantine period. The many participants included State Senator Christopher R. West, District and Circuit Judges, members of the Executive Council, attorneys from all different practices and recent law school graduates. Many greetings, waves, and thumbs up were exchanged as people entered the Zoom session awaiting for the fun to begin. Bingo was hosted by our beloved President, the Honorable Michael W. Siri, and his family assisted with the calling of numbers. Four games were played each evening and they were all very intense. In fact, it was more intense than the annual BCBA Golf Tournament. President Siri did a phenomenal and entertaining job calling the numbers. Side note, the fictional television attorney Saul Goodman also called Bingo â€“ to my knowledge, that is the extent of similarities between
President Siri and Saul Goodman. As President Siri called the numbers, he offered nuggets of trivia wisdom and references that related to the numbers. As a few examples, 17 referred to Samuel Sprigg, the 17th Governor of Maryland; 28 is the atomic number for nickel; 62 referred to Larry Hogan, the 62nd Governor of Maryland; 63 referred to the international calling code to the Philippines; and 74 referred to the sustained wind speed to classify a hurricane.
The lucky winners of the Bingo games were as follows (some games had multiple winners): April 30th: Wally Kleid, Matt Paavola, Kim Barranco (two time winner!) and Christine Malanga. May 28th: The Honorable Alexandra N. Williams, Kim Barranco (again!), Christine Malanga (again!), Kimberly Andrews and Kathy Holden. Each winner received a gift card to a local restaurant. President Siri, on behalf of the BCBA, acknowledged that many restaurants are very generous to the BCBA, so the purchase of gift cards from these restaurants was a way to support them during the difficult time of quarantine. That is one of the great things about the BCBA â€“ it is always thinking of ways to support one another. Much thanks to the BCBA for two eventful evenings!
VIRTUAL WELLNESS SERIES By William F. Alcarese, Jr.
As the Chair of the Professionalism Committee this past year, it was a concept to host a series of events geared to the wellness of attorneys and the busy, stressful lives that accompany the profession. Then, the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Nevertheless, the Professionalism Committee regrouped, adapted, persevered and coordinated a six-part series of Virtual Wellness programs throughout the month of May. The Virtual Wellness series was a tremendous success and a lot of knowledgeable and useful information was shared! The wellness topics were both general in nature and particularly relevant to the unusual circumstances we encountered during the pandemic. In addition to the individual presenters, detailed below, I would personally like to thank the co-chairs of the programs, Ari Kodeck, Esq. and Suzanne Farace, Esq.; Rachel Ruocco and Rachel Fuller for coordinating these programs. Collectively, a lot came together in a short amount of time. On May 6th, Wendy Meadows, Esq. spoke about physical, mental and financial wellness in our professional lives. Wendy’s tips included “jumping out of bed” to start your day off right to transition into positive habits of exercise and diet. Wendy added words of wisdom for managing your clients and practice to ensure that you were providing competent services and being compensated accordingly. In addition to practicing law, Wendy is a health and wellness coach and is certified for nutritional programs. Wendy also maintains a health and fitness blog: www.lawfullylean.com. On May 11th, Elana Farace, Ph.D. (sister of Suzanne Farace, Esq.), spoke about managing children while working from home. Dr. Farace is a clinical neuropsychologist and Associate Professor of Public Health, Science and Neuropsychology at Penn State University. Her detailed program included topics such as survival basics, psychological factors and managing children’s behavior (broken down by age ranges). THE ADVOCATE
On May 19th, Christine Woods, MsEd, ACSMCCEP, CSCS presented on the topic of nutrition with an emphasis on stress eating. Her presentation focused on the cycle of emotional/stress eating, identifying healthy habits, developing an awareness of what triggers overeating and providing strategies and tools to avoid the stress eating cycle. Christine concluded on the topic of alcohol and stated that alcohol has no nutritional value and the body recognizes alcohol as a toxin. Christine is a clinical exercise physiologist, personal trainer and group exercise instructor (www.christinewoodsfitness.com). April K. Luby, PTA, CWcHP, ACSM EP-C (wife of David F. Luby, Esq.), presented two programs on May 21st and May 28th. April’s first topic focused on work from home ergonomics that provided many examples of good posture and ways to correct bad posture at your workstation. A week later, April presented on the topic of stretching for stress relief. Participants were guided through various stretching exercises designed to reduce stress, especially for attorneys who may be sedentary for extended periods of time. April is a physical therapy assistant, health and fitness coach and caregiver advocate. April works for Optimum Performance Physical Therapy in Towson and they are accepting workers compensation and personal injury clients for rehabilitation and therapy (www.oppt.biz) and recently launched her blog: www.care4thegiver.com. Last, but not least, on May 26th, Heather Gentry, a certified yoga instructor, provided a virtual flow and strengthen yoga session that also incorporated breathing and relaxation exercises. You can follow Heather’s yoga practice on Instagram at hgyoga_well. If you were unable to participate in any of the Virtual Wellness sessions, each was recorded and are available through the BCBA. Many thanks to all of the presenters for volunteering their time and knowledge for the benefit of the members of the BCBA!
The Baltimore County Bar Association now has a YouTube channel! Follow us and receive notifications when we post a video. Virtual programs and events hosted by the BCBA will be recorded and posted to our channel. This is a great way to access information presented if you are unable to â€˜attendâ€™. If you have any questions on how to access our channel, contact Rachel Ruocco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MVLS EXPANDS HUMAN TRAFFICKING PREVENTION PROJECT
The Bar Association Lawyer Referral office is currently closed, but the Lawyer Referral & Information Service is still fully operational. Please direct the public to call 410-337-9100 Mondayâ€”Friday from 9:00 a.m.â€”4:30 p.m. The 2020-2021 Lawyer Referral & Information Service Panel Application is available now so please renew. If you are considering joining Lawyer Referral for the first time and have any questions, Contact Rachel Fuller at email@example.com. All current panel members will receive the new application via email. Remember...You can join or renew at any time!
BALTIMORE COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION HISTORICAL COMMITTEE Do you have old photos of past Baltimore County Bar Association events and programs? We would love to have them! Please email Rachel Ruocco at firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate. Do you have a favorite memory of the Baltimore County Bar Association you would like to share? Or maybe a funny story? Email those too. The BCBA Historical Committee is hard at work on a yearbook to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Baltimore County Bar Association and your photos and stories will make great additions.
CIVIL LAW UPDATE By Ceecee Paizs
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS! Assistant Bar Counsel, Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland
The Office of Bar Counsel is seeking applicants for Assistant Bar Counsel. This attorney investigates allegations of professional misconduct or incapacity; presents complaints to Peer Review Panels; represents the Commission at trial in circuit courts throughout the State and before the Court of Appeals; and performs other duties as directed by Bar Counsel. The position carries a heavy case load and state-wide travel is required. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of five yearsâ€™ legal experience, including substantial trial experience, as well as strong writing and oral advocacy skills. Maryland Bar required.
Garrett Edgar Byron Robert Grossman Derek Clevon Johnson Victoria Lenes 1st Year Attorneys Ruthie Herman Katie F. Kay 2-Plus Years Attorneys Damien Banks Gilad Ron Berkowiyz Kumudha Kumarachandran
Medical and retirement benefits. Email cover letter, resume, writing sample, and a list of three references to email@example.com by close of business on Friday, July 17, 2020. The Attorney Grievance Commission is an equal opportunity employer, committed to diversity in the workplace.
Andrew Radding Government/Non-Profit Jessica Bancroft Thomas Fisher Margaret Henn
YOUR AD COULD BE HERE! Contact Rachel Ruocco at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-337-9103 for advertising rates and to place your ad. THE ADVOCATE
Signature Sponsors The Baltimore County Bar Association continues its Signature Sponsor program, which enhances the opportunities for our sponsors, as well as our members. This singletier program provides more engagement between our sponsors and our members. Each Signature Sponsor can host an event during the year, thereby reducing the cost of the event for members while providing added benefits. Sponsorships help the Bar Association maintain its current dues level despite the increasing costs of providing top-shelf legal education programs, social events, networking opportunities and Bar Office services available in the County Courts Building. If you know of a business that would be interested in one of these limited sponsorship opportunities, please contact Rachel Ruocco (410) 337-9100 or rruocco@bcba,org).
Paul E. Alpert, Retired Judge Available for Mediation and Arbitration Former Judge of District Court, Circuit Court and Court of Special Appeals
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Baltimore County Bar Association
Presort Standard U.S. Postage PAID Permit No. 1262 Baltimore, MD
100 County Courts Building 401 Bosley Avenue Towson, MD 21204-4491 410-337-9103-Telephone 410-823-3418-Facsimile www.bcba.org
Member Advertisements CATONSVILLE. Office space available; 1007 Frederick Road; one to four rooms. Prime location along Frederick Road with signage. Call 410-744-3256
Nicely furnished office space with parking, half block from circuit court. Pete McDowell 410-960-
TOWSON. Furnished office available in beautifully appointed suite in the heart of Towson. Use of conference room and other amenities. Contact Susan at 410-583-7007. TOWSON. Second floor office for rent with space available for admin/secretary. On site parking with shared conference room. Email email@example.com or call 410-321-5000 if interested. TOWSON. Small firm in Towson looking for an experienced part-time legal assistant/secretary two to three days a week. Any experienced candidates should contact Robert Jacobson at 410-583-8883. TOWSON. 303 W. Pennsylvania Avenue, Towson across Bosley Avenue from the Circuit Court Building, three offices with bathroom on the second floor, 3rd floor four offices available, conference room, bathroom and kitchen on first floor, free parking space available, rent negotiable $50 to $100 less than comparable spaces. $400-$500 per office, great satellite office with possibility of overflow work. Contact Joe Glass at 410-823-4214 or 410-790-1980. CATONSVILLE. Office Space for Rent. Catonsville, 1002 Frederick Road, 2nd floor office. Private entrance, semi private restroom, use of conference room and kitchen on first floor. Free parking. Would be a great satellite office. Please contact Lou Weinkam, Jr. at 410-744-3256 ext. 103. TOWSON. 309 Allegheny Avenue. 2nd floor offices with private restroom, 3 regular offices, partially furnished, 1 executive office (can be made into five offices) fully furnished. Private restroom. Tenant will have available to them a conference room, print/scan/fax center and kitchenette on 1st floor. Additionally, 2nd floor has 2 private entrances, 5 free parking spaces, and approximately 800 sq. ft. of combined dry/secure storage on 3rd floor and basement. TOWSON. Sublease available one block from courthouse. Space in excellent condition. Spacious conference rooms, 34 offices, reception area, copy/supply room, and kitchen. Sublease until August, then take on new lease. Rent negotiable. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a tour or get more information.