The Colorful Case of A Well-Named Lawyer

Montgomery Blair Sibley with client Deborah Jeane Palfrey on Monday.
Montgomery Blair Sibley with client Deborah Jeane Palfrey on Monday. "I'm a big boy, I can take it," Sibley says of criticism he's received. (By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)

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By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 4, 2007

Montgomery Blair Sibley, attorney for the morally impugned and legally challenged, is first and foremost Montgomery Blair Sibley, which is to say a descendant of some of the most powerful families in Washington history. Various relatives served as Lincoln's postmaster, or established Blair House, or governed Maryland or founded the Western Union Telegraph Co., or, before we forget, pretty much created Montgomery County's suburbs (yes, a Silver Spring high school bears his first two names).

Now, because his most prominent client of the moment is an alleged madam who is said to possess the names of 10,000 Washington clients, some of whom are alleged to be high-profile, he is also a busy, busy lawyer.

There are other concerns in his life, too.

While this 50-year-old scion of the highborn has recently been suggesting that he could make public the names of the 10,000 in order to protect his client Deborah Jeane Palfrey, he had to pay less attention to urgent business in two other places.

One was Florida, where the state bar was seeking to yank his license for at least two years. He was found guilty in absentia (in part for being a "vexatious litigant") and now faces suspension if not disbarment. "He is someone who abuses the legal process," says Barnaby Min, counsel for the Florida Bar.

The second was in Montgomery County, where he was to stand trial for failing to pay $11,218.20 in past-due rent on office space in Gaithersburg for a tiny shipping-crate company he heads. That trial was continued.

Something is amiss here, and we haven't even gotten to the part where he sued the U.S. Supreme Court for treason (twice!), asking for $1 million in damages. Or that he spent 77 days in a Miami jail for refusing to pay child support. Or that Maryland has stopped him from running a law office in the state. Or that federal prosecutors in Palfrey's case say Sibley's filings are so ignorant of basic legal tenets that they are "almost incoherent."

All of this is bad, because it also means we haven't even mentioned "Big Pimping Pappy" yet.

Sibley's time in the spotlight continues tonight.

ABC News, which has been given exclusive rights to Palfrey's great big little black book, is scheduled to air a report on "20/20" that promises to name more names. One name that has already come up is Randall Tobias, who resigned his job as USAID chief while denying all wrongdoing. ABC teases in a promotional release that a secretary at the prestigious law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has been suspended after telling her bosses that she worked for Palfrey.

Sibley says that urging former clients to come forward and publicly say they did not have sex on their $300-per-hour dates is a necessary tactic.

John Wesley Hall Jr., a vice president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and author of the standard text on defense ethics, calls it "spiteful" and "over the line," and says it "doesn't serve any purpose but to harass and embarrass people."


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