Bethesda lawyer Robin Ficker, the former Maryland delegate who led a series of high-profile tax revolts, has been accused of misconduct and shoddy office practices by the state Attorney Grievance Commission.

The agency, which investigates allegations of unethical conduct against Maryland lawyers, filed a seven-count petition with the state's high court that cites Ficker's handling of drunken-driving cases between 1987 and 1991.

Ficker allegedly left clients stranded without representation in court and in one case sent a novice lawyer who was unfamiliar with the case into the courtroom. Ficker also employs a nonlawyer who regularly dispensed advice to clients, accepted their money and led them to believe he was a lawyer, officials said.

Ficker would not comment on the allegations, but his attorney, Stanley J. Reed, said they were "absolutedly without merit."

"These complaints represent an infinitesimal percentage of the thousands of cases Mr. Ficker's firm has handled between 1987 and 1991," Reed said. "The complaints do not involve allegations regarding Mr. Ficker's honesty, integrity or his legal acumen; they primarily involve scheduling issues which have long since been remedied."

Ficker led several tax rebellions against the state and Montgomery County governments. The most recent, a ballot measure to slash county income or property taxes, was narrowly defeated last fall.

Despite his activism in local politics, Ficker is perhaps best known for his merciless, high-decibel heckling of Washington Bullets opponents from his sideline seats at USAir Arena.

According to court papers, Ficker, in a 1987 incident, waited until the day of trial to request a continuance for a client who told him she would be out of state. His request was denied and a bench warrant was issued for the woman's arrest.

In a case in 1989, one of Ficker's employees allegedly met a client in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn in Frederick, Md., and collected fees, even though he was not a lawyer.

Reed described two of the disciplinary complaints as "extremely minor fee disputes which ... should have been and will be dismissed."

Melvin Hirshman, the grievance commission chief prosecutor, would not comment on the 25-page complaint or say why it took eight years to proceed with the case.

"I'm not going to try this in the papers," Hirshman said. "Just because we file something doesn't mean he's guilty, {though} most of the time we prove our case." The complaint against Ficker will be heard by a circuit court judge, who will decide whether to uphold or dismiss the complaints. If the judge finds Ficker guilty, the finding would be reviewed by the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court and the only judicial body with the power to discipline Maryland lawyers.

This is not the first time Ficker has defended himself against the grievance commission. In 1990, Ficker was reprimanded for two Frederick cases in which he failed to make scheduled court appearances.

In one of the seven complaints filed Dec. 21, Ficker was accused of missing a trial in an alcohol-related traffic case in Anne Arundel County while representing clients in three other cases in Frederick.

When Ficker failed to appear for a case in 1990, according to court papers, a Washington County judge found him in contempt and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine. The contempt order was lifted later, but Ficker forfeited the amount of the fine. After Ficker failed to appear in court for a sentencing, a Montgomery County judge sentenced the defendant to six months in jail, although that was later vacated. Reed said Ficker believes he is being targeted because of his high-profile antics. "The standards of professional conduct which are applied to him are much higher than those that are applied to the average attorney in the courts where Mr. Ficker practices," Reed said. "For better or worse, Mr. Ficker has pricked the conscience of the legal and political establishment and feels these kinds of allegations are one of the unfortunate byproducts of his efforts."

CAPTION: ROBIN FICKER