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Attorney hired to fight Maryland, Montgomery ballot measures gets suspended

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Photo - Maryland's redistricting map
Maryland's redistricting map
Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye

An election law attorney who recently represented both Montgomery County and the Maryland Democratic Party will be suspended from practicing law in Maryland indefinitely after he misappropriated more than $16,000 of his clients' money.

Jonathan Shurberg, whose practice is based in Silver Spring, misappropriated funds from several clients' trust accounts in amounts ranging from $6 to more than $3,000 across a span of five years, according to court documents. Of the $16,642.61 removed, $10,593.46 was paid directly to Shurberg.

Shurberg and his attorneys did not return calls for comment. The Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission, which brought the case, does not comment on individual cases.

None of the funds were "intentionally misappropriated," according to the court documents, and all of the funds removed from the accounts have been replenished. "No clients were harmed as a result of the misappropriation nor did any client complain of any misconduct by [Shurberg]," the court document says. The document doesn't identify the clients.

Still, Shurberg's errors violated numerous rules. As a result, he will be suspended from practicing law in Maryland effective Nov. 10, and he will be able to apply for his license to be reinstated no earlier then May 10, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled. Between now and Nov. 10, Shurberg has agreed not to take on any new cases or clients, though he can wrap up existing cases.

The suspension was first reported by The Gazette.

Shurberg was hired to fight state and local ballot measures in recent months.

On behalf of the state Democratic Party, Shurberg unsuccessfully fought the use of mdpetitions.com to collect signatures aimed at getting a challenge of Maryland's new congressional districts on the ballot.

Representing Montgomery County, he unsuccessfully challenged the Fraternal Order of Police's petition drive that resulted in a ballot measure in which voters will decide whether the union keeps its right to "effects bargaining," or the ability to bargain any management decision.

Shurberg argued both cases before the state Court of Appeals last month.

Despite losing the case, Montgomery County Attorney Marc Hansen said Shurberg "was very effective in court." If Shurberg regains his ability to practice law and the county needs his election expertise, Hansen said he would consider hiring him again.

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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