Local attorney’s license suspended

Published 11:11 pm Friday, May 29, 2009

This month, the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board suspended the law license of a Suffolk attorney who was disbarred from the Virginia Court of Appeals in February.

Anne Marston Lynch violated professional rules governing diligence, communication and bar disciplinary matters in five cases, the board found. The cases involved criminal defense representations and a real estate matter, according to a press release issued Friday. Lynch’s license to practice law is suspended for one year.

Lynch’s troubles began in March 2008, when she filed a petition asking for leave to withdraw as court-appointed attorney in the case of a local man charged with criminal acts. In her filing, she said that she believed the man’s appeal was “without merit.”

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Later that month, the appellate court denied Lynch’s motion to withdraw as counsel, and ordered her to file an amended petition for appeal within 15 days. Lynch failed to do so. In April, a similar order was filed, and again Lynch failed to respond.

In August 2008, the appellate court issued a third order, removing Lynch from the man’s case and directing her to explain why she should not be held in contempt of court. Lynch did not respond to that order.

In October, a clerk at the appellate court telephoned Lynch to investigate her failure to comply with the three orders. In Lynch’s written response, faxed to the courthouse, she said that her failure to respond to the March and August orders was “simply due to negligence,” according to the press release. She said she did not recall receiving the April order.

Upon receiving that response, the appellate court issued an order for Lynch to appear in person in Richmond on Jan. 7 to explain her actions. Lynch did not appear in court on that day.

The next day, the chief judge of the appellate court issued an order for Lynch to appear on Jan. 13 — an order that was personally served by the Virginia State Police.

That day, Lynch appeared before a three-judge panel of the appellate court in Chesapeake, apologizing for her “lack of professionalism” and saying that her caseload was too heavy.

Lynch was found in contempt of the appellate court. She was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, and she will not be able to practice in the appellate court for at least three years.

In three years, Lynch can petition the appellate court for reinstatement, if she completes continuing education courses in the areas of professionalism, appellate practice and time management, the court ruled. After her one-year suspension from the bar expires, she can handle cases in lower courts until reinstated by the appellate court.