Rebuttal to Claybrook letter from Leonhart
Four years after Joan Claybrook and her Citizens to Preserve Dewey associates made their first attempts to discredit me for my 2005 decision to relinquish my license to practice law, I find myself again clarifying the record.
Yes, I am a disbarred attorney - a fact fully and publicly disclosed. It involves no moral wrong or criminal act, and I carry no shame or regret.
Licensed to practice law in Maryland for 23 years, I was also specially admitted to practice in 12 other states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Following a major heart attack in 1997, mitral valve replacement surgery in 1998, and ongoing hospitalizations and medical complications that increased in severity and compromised my ability to function, I decided to relinquish my legal practice in 2005. I chose to spend the remainder of my lifetime as a mother and professional writer.
As I was closing my practice, a client who did not want me to withdraw as her counsel and her friend filed grievances that resulted in the only disciplinary action ever taken against me. While recovering from hospitalization in 2000, a check sent to my office by the primary client was mistakenly deposited into the operating account instead of the escrow account. The matter was immediately corrected when I discovered it.
Under Maryland Bar rules, the failure to deposit client funds in an escrow account required temporary suspension of my license, and to have it reinstated would have required production of all account records on every case and client since the error had occurred five years earlier. Almost all of my files had already been closed and transferred to former clients or their new attorneys, meaning the task would have taken weeks of work.
Placing my health and family first, I decided I would not invest more of my lifetime working to keep a license to practice a profession I no longer wished to pursue. Because a grievance had been filed, the only procedural alternative was to consent to disbarment, which I did.
As I told everyone four years ago, anyone who wants to can check out the facts at www.courts.state.md.us/attygrievance/sanctions06.html. My entry speaks for itself: “LEONHART, Georgia L. - Disbarred by consent for failing to maintain client funds in her escrow account.” Also check out the language used in some of the reports about other attorneys: fraud, deceit, misappropriation, theft, forgery, and lying under oath. If more had been involved it would have been recorded.
I again underwent major open-heart surgery in 2010. New procedures that did not exist in 1998 have extended my life beyond a point many believed possible. I am now healthier than I have been for two decades, and am enjoying a fulfilling life as a mother and a professional writer and media consultant.
Only a few remaining points in Claybrook’s letter, full of typical CPD falsehoods made without any specific attribution, merit any comment at all. Her statements regarding the FOIA complaint I filed are inaccurate. The one truth about me is that I do attend every Dewey meeting I can and I do tape record those meetings to preserve independent confirmation of what occurred and ensure all quotes made in Dewey Beach News are accurate.
After lobbing personal attacks against Mr. Przygocki for years, one would think that Ms. Claybrook would learn to spell his name; and her claim that he failed to provide an eyewitness statement to the presence of a town council quorum at a private meeting with her and other CPD members is resolved with the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Finally, the statement that Town Manager Appelbaum refused for months to release documents about town oversight of the Ruddertowne project - suggesting that he is somehow responsible for that action - distorts reality.
The reality, according to the public statements made by Mayor Diane Hanson during town council meetings, is that the new attorney hired by the town to oversee the project instructed the town to not release the documents or information.