In suspending Alston’s law license, the Court of Appeals cited a lower court judge’s finding of Alston’s “repeated lack of cooperation and the continual habit of lateness, non-responsiveness, and dilatory practices.”
Alston’s attorney J. Wyndal Gordon said he was pleased that the first-term lawmaker could eventually apply for reinstatement.
“She’s not perfect. . .There was a lot going on in her life,” Gordon said. “She is certainly contrite and surely regrets these transgressions.”
The state’s Attorney Grievance Commission filed formal disciplinary charges against Alston in response to complaints from a client and because of her mismanagement of a bank account lawyers are required to keep for client funds.
Alston acknowledged in an initial agreement with the commission, according to the opinion, that she “did not act with reasonable diligence” while representing the client in divorce proceedings. Alston failed to answer the client’s requests for information, failed to keep her informed and later failed to provide the client’s file to her new attorney, according to the court’s opinion.
That agreement with the commission also required Alston to refund the client $5,000, representing one-half of what the client had paid her. When Alston did not comply with the remedial agreement, however, the commission sought a formal rebuke from the court.
Alston’s “disregard of the requirements of the [agreement],” Judge Mary Ellen Barbera wrote, “particularly without any attempt at explanation, demonstrated a lack of trustworthiness.”
The court did not specify a time period after which Alston could apply to have her license reinstated.
The court’s decision Tuesday comes as the Prince George’s legislator is fighting criminal charges that she misused campaign money to cover some of the costs of her 2010 wedding. A trial is set for October.
Separately, Alston was found guilty in June of stealing $800 in General Assembly funds to pay an employee of her law firm. Once that conviction becomes final after sentencing, she would be required to step down from office.
This Post has been updated.