During a January 25, 2017 hearing on the defense request for a postponement of trial in a Baltimore medical malpractice case, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge called a Maryland state senator who entered his appearance on behalf of the medical malpractice defendant, the University of Maryland Medical System, the day before, “unethical” for attempting to use his legislative privilege to delay the Baltimore medical malpractice jury trial that was scheduled to begin on February 6, 2017, by entering his appearance two weeks before trial and then seeking a postponement of the trial.
The Maryland state senator was not present during the postponement hearing because he was attending the ongoing Maryland legislative session in Annapolis at the time of the hearing, but he later called the judge’s remarks “unbelievably insulting and false.” The Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in September 2015 and the trial had already been postponed twice.
The Baltimore Circuit Court judge reportedly stated during the postponement hearing, “You don’t enter your appearance in a case knowing that the trial date is coming up … that’s, to me, it’s rather unethical if you’re not prepared to go to trial to enter your appearance at this late date.” In response to another defense attorney, who had also entered his appearance on behalf of the defendant Maryland hospital the day before the postponement request hearing, who objected to the judge’s use of the word “unethical” as “a strong word,” the judge reportedly responded: “you’re right, but you certainly know you should not enter your appearance unless you’re prepared to go to trial.”
The judge’s January 31, 2017 order denying the defense postponement request reportedly cited the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct that permit a continuance for an attorney entering an appearance on behalf of a party if it is made in good faith and not for purposes of delay, and that the judge could “find no reason for [the Maryland state senator] entering his appearance at the eleventh hour other than delay.”
The defendant hospital had been represented in the Maryland medical malpractice case by an experienced medical malpractice defense lawyer since November 2015.
The Maryland state senator who entered his appearance as additional defense counsel on behalf of the Maryland hospital is a named partner in a small Baltimore law firm that handles motor vehicle accident cases on behalf of plaintiffs, defends people charged with traffic violations, and represents clients in family law matters, which makes his appearance on behalf of a Maryland medical malpractice defendant all the more unusual. The Maryland state senator is the chair of the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
The Baltimore medical malpractice case was reportedly settled under confidential terms on February 21, 2017 after the defense postponement request was denied.
Robin Griffin, et al. vs. University Of Md Medical Systems Corporation, Case No. 24C15004716.
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