Solomons, MD – A Calvert County attorney facing possible disbarment will have his license to practice law in Maryland suspended for 30 days, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month. Last summer, the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland recommended V. Charles Donnelly of Solomons be disbarred. That recommendation came after the panel considered the request for disciplinary action submitted by a group of Donnelly’s business partners. The group formed an entity known as Solomons One LLC in June 2005. The group had purchased commercial property in Solomons shortly after banding. Seven years later Solomons One filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In a 91-page opinion dated Feb. 15, Court of Appeals Judge Shirley M. Watts noted that Donnelly (pictured, right) “had no prior history of disciplinary action.” Watts further wrote that there was an “unlikelihood of repetition of the misconduct” by Donnelly. “We conclude that a 30-day suspension is the appropriate sanction for Donnelly’s misconduct. In our view, this sanction will impress upon Donnelly, and all members of the Bar of Maryland, the necessity of obtaining clients’ authorization before taking important actions, providing important documents to clients, communicating changes in fee arrangements to clients, and withdrawing from cases and surrendering files in a timely manner after clients terminate the representation.”

Watts stated it was to the court’s satisfaction that the 30-day suspension “will protect the public.”

The judge’s opinion also contained some advice for the Attorney Grievance Commission pertaining to its timing of their ruling on Donnelly’s conduct. “We believe it would be advisable for bar counsel to await the underlying litigation before determining whether an attorney discipline proceeding is warranted. Following this procedure would avoid any perception that bar counsel and the attorney disciplinary process are being used to further the complaining attorney’s interest in ongoing litigation.” In a footnote, Watts stated Donnelly’s appeal of a bankruptcy court’s judgment regarding Solomons One was still pending when the complaint was filed.
Watts added Donnelly’s suspension would begin “30 days after the date on which this opinion is filed.”

Last summer, when contacted Donnelly about the Attorney Grievance Commission’s decision to recommend disbarment, he stated the complaint filed against him stemmed from “a partnership dispute.” A call to Donnelly’s office for a comment on his suspension had not been returned as this story was being filed.

Donnelly is currently handling the estate of Terry A. Clarke, the late owner of Solomons’ Tiki Bar. That iconic business recently went up for sale. In 2006 and again in 2010, Donnelly ran unsuccessfully for Calvert County commissioner.

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