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Contact:  Sally W. Rankin
Court Information Office
Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building
Annapolis, MD 
(410) 260-1488

For Immediate Release

Client Protection Fund Pays Out $112,000 To Claimants

(ANNAPOLIS, MD—July 10, 2002) During their quarterly meeting on June 26, Trustees of the Clients' Security Trust Fund, now known as the Client Protection Fund of the Bar of Maryland, agreed to pay out more than $112,000 to claimants whose attorney was found to have kept money to which he/she was not entitled. 

“The bulk of the money paid out to claimants was due to attorneys not doing the work that they promised,” said Fund Trustee Isaac Hecht. “We sincerely hope that the public realizes that these attorneys are a few bad apples in an otherwise reputable group.”

More than half the money paid out at the Trustee meeting was to clients of M. Cristina Gutierrez, who consented to disbarment in May. According to Hecht, Gutierrez failed to hold property of clients separately from her own, did not refund advanced fees that were not earned, and misappropriated funds intended to be used for third-party payments. 

In another claim, the Trustees determined that suspended attorney Thomas J. Mooney accepted a case, but never filed papers in the case nor appeared at a preliminary hearing. The trustees also reimbursed funds for a client of Joel Chasnoff, who agreed to represent the claimant before the Court of Special Appeals regarding a petition to modify alimony payments. All the attorneys were found to have accepted payment from their clients, but never conducted the work agreed upon. 

The Client Protection Fund of the Bar of Maryland was established by the Maryland Legislature in 1965 to maintain the integrity and protect the good name of the legal profession by reimbursing, to the extent authorized by the rule and deemed proper and reasonable by the Trustees, losses caused by theft of money by members of the Bar of the State of Maryland when acting either as attorneys or fiduciaries. The Fund, a court-related agency under the Maryland Court of Appeals, is supported entirely by attorneys in the State who are required by law to pay an annual assessment for the right to practice law.

The Client Protection Fund Trustees plan to meet next in October, 2002  to consider claims, among other things. The Fund has a new website,, which provides a list of active attorneys registered in the State of Maryland, instructions on how to file a claim, and a Frequently Asked Questions page.  For more information on the Client Protection Fund of the Bar of Maryland, please call 410/260-1950. 


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Last modified Wednesday, July 10 2002 03:43