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Wisconsin alum turned Maryland attorney loses law license for 6 months

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//March 5, 2024//

(Deposit Photos)

Wisconsin alum turned Maryland attorney loses law license for 6 months

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//March 5, 2024//

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Maryland Attorney Erick R. Tyrone won’t be practicing law for the next six months in Maryland; Washington, D.C.; or Wisconsin, pursuant to rulings from the Court of Appeals of Maryland, Supreme Court of Wisconsin and a D.C. court.

“I will be working as a glorified paralegal in this firm for the next six months, handling matters I would have handled as an attorney,” Tyrone told the Wisconsin Law Journal during an exclusive interview on Monday.

According to court documents obtained by the Wisconsin Law Journal, the Wisconsin Supreme Court imposed stipulated reciprocal discipline recommended by Wisconsin’s Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), in coordination with Maryland’s Attorney Grievance Commission’s recommendation to the Court of Appeals of Maryland.

Tyrone says he believes the consequences for his behavior are too severe and are unfair.

“I felt like it was a bit harsh,” Tyrone said, noting “from what I understand there are people with similar situations who did not have the same consequences.”

Milwaukee Attorney Stacie Rosenzweig with Halling & Cayo defends attorneys facing discipline in Wisconsin, however, did not represent Tyrone, as he did not retain local counsel.

When Rosenzweig was asked if she believed the outcome of the case was reasonable, she said she could not comment on the specific case because she is not familiar with the rules in Maryland and D.C.

However, Rosenzweig noted, “Even though precedent is important, it is not always possible to find prior cases with substantially similar facts. There may be significant aggravating or mitigating factors present. Rules and case law evolve.”

According to court documents, Tyrone allegedly did not pay bar dues on time, file an OLR trust account certification certificate, and also allegedly did not comply with certain continuing legal education requirements.

Tyrone acknowledged he accepted “a small portion of responsibility for what OLR and Maryland (Grievance Commission) said occurred.”

“They (Maryland regulators) can twist words and make things seem much worse than it actually is,” he said.

Rosenzweig said she is empathetic and hears this compliant all too often from other attorneys.

“I understand this perspective and, for what it’s worth, it’s something I hear often. There are instances where I disagree, sometimes strongly, with how the OLR has characterized something in a complaint or a report,” Rosenzweig said, noting although she has a good working relationship with the OLR, it is an adversarial process.

“Just like any other lawsuit or prosecution, there is that ‘v’ (for vs.) in the caption and parties on opposite sides of the ‘v’ will see (and word) things differently,” Rosenzweig.

Justice for Tyrone has been anything but swift, he said, noting how legal bills have now been mounting for two years since the disciplinary action began in Maryland.

“The events portrayed are dramatically worse than what actually happened. I did not agree with characterizations of events. Given what actually occurred, I would have thought some dripline is warranted, but not this.”

“I feel like I have been railroaded … this has been going on for almost two years. This is way more expensive than what anyone should have to incur,” he said.

Tyrone said all of his legal bills are going to Maryland counsel, as he did not retain local counsel in Wisconsin.

“I didn’t have a leg to stand on with reciprocal issue in Wisconsin,” Tyrone noted.

Rosenzweig agreed, noting, “Departures from that default are rare, and generally only happen if there was a deprivation of due process or severe deficiency of proof in the other proceeding, or the misconduct justifies substantially different discipline here. It’s up to the lawyer to raise those points if he or she believes that a departure is warranted. In most cases the Court will determine it isn’t.”

Tyrone is subject to reciprocal discipline in Wisconsin pursuant to SCR 22.22.

According to court documents, on July 26, 2023, OLR filed a complaint alleging that on Sept. 7, 2021, the Court of Appeals of Maryland ordered the Indefinite Suspension by Consent of Attorney Tyrone’s license to practice law in Maryland, with the right to petition for reinstatement after six months.

Rosenzweig said it’s important to note the distinction between discipline and administrative suspension, as in the present case.

“Suspensions for nonpayment of bar dues, or failure to file trust account certification or comply with CLE, are different and separate. These are considered administrative suspensions, not disciplinary, and when those suspensions end depend on how long it’s been since the lapse. The lawyer can try to reinstate from an administrative suspension at any time,” Rosenzweig said.

Pursuant to Wis. SCR 22.28, if a lawyer has been suspended for less than three years, it’s typically a matter of remedying the deficiencies and paying applicable dues, petition and/or late fees, and so forth. If it has been three years or more, then the lawyer has to petition more formally and the OLR will investigate the lawyer’s character and fitness (similar to a disciplinary reinstatement), Rosenzweig noted.

On Sept. 30, 2022, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals filed an order suspending Tyrone’s license to practice law in the District of Columbia on an interim basis. The interim suspension was based on consideration of the order of the Court of Appeals of Maryland suspending Tyrone’s law license indefinitely with the right to petition for reinstatement after six months.

As previously reported by the Wisconsin Law Journal, Tyrone was admitted to the practice of law in Wisconsin in 2009. He was admitted to the practice of law in Maryland in 2012 and in the District of Columbia in 2016. His Wisconsin law license has been suspended since 2012 for failure to pay State Bar dues, failure to file an OLR trust account certification certificate and failure to comply with continuing legal education requirements. Tyrone has no prior discipline in Wisconsin.

Tyrone said he moved to Madison for law school after going to undergraduate school at Columbia University in New York City. After law school, he moved to Maryland, interviewing for federal jobs, which got put on hold due to a hiring freeze at the time.

His current firm primarily specializes in trusts and estates and personal injury.

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