HIGH COURT LABELS GREENLEAF “SEXUAL PREDATOR”
Chief Deputy Clerk for Court of Appeals and former States Attorney in Caroline County Disbarred as Sex Offender in Solicitation of Minors Using Court Computer
By Ken Rossignol
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
ANNAPOLIS, MD.- Following three years of court actions after he was discovered to have been soliciting sex from who he believed were minor females, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals Chief Deputy Clerk, Robert John Greenleaf has been disbarred.
In the criminal charges brought in Caroline County by States Attorney Jonathan Newell, Greenleaf was accused of multiple communications with an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old girl, from a computer located in his home.
In the series of internet communications, Greenleaf repeatedly attempted to get the “girl” to leave her home and meet him for a sexual encounter and to produce a sex video.
The Bar Counsel for the Attorney Grievance Commission filed a “Petition for Disciplinary or Remedial Action” on March 14, 2013 and the case was assigned to Kent County Circuit Court Judge Paul M. Bowman for a hearing which was held on July 24, 2013. Judge Bowman issued an opinion on Sept. 19, 2013 concluding that Greenleaf had violated rules of conduct for attorneys in Maryland, specifically those dealing with dishonesty, fraud, deceit and prejudicial conduct in the administration of justice.
On April 8, 2014, the Court of Appeals heard oral arguments and disbarred Greenleaf who had been admitted to the bar in 1979.
The posts he had held include:
Assistant States Attorney for Dorchester County
Assistant States Attorney for Caroline County
States Attorney for Caroline County
Senior Assistant States Attorney for Dorchester County
Chief Deputy Clerk of the Court of Special Appeals
Greenleaf had been appointed States Attorney in 2000 for Caroline County and had previously served as assistant state’s attorney. In 2002, he ran for election as a Democrat and lost.
After becoming the Chief Deputy Clerk of the state’s highest court, Baltimore Police undercover officers working on the state’s burgeoning internet sex solicitations of minors, began an online relationship with Greenleaf. The cop was posing as a 13-year-old girl, according to court records.
On March 8, 2010, Sgt. Louis Gary Yamin of the Baltimore Police Department was working undercover for the Cyber and Electronic Crimes Unit. Sgt. Yamin created a Yahoo messenger account with the alias of “ravens_girl2003” which was connected to a female profile with the name of “Beth”. On March 8, 2010, as “Beth”, Sgt. Yamin entered a Yahoo chat room entitled “Maryland Romance” and made contact with a person with the user name of “delmarvan199901”. “Beth” sent a message “14/f/blato.md” which court records describe as internet shorthand for a fourteen-year-old female in the Baltimore area.
Court records indicate that Greenleaf, using the moniker “delmarvan19901” began discussing sexual topics and photos were exchanged between the two.
Court records reveal that emails were exchanged between the undercover cop-minor child and Greenleaf and examination of the IP address showed that Greenleaf was using a computer set up on the Maryland Judiciary.
Sgt. Yamin then matched up the photos sent by Greenleaf to the cop-child with the photo on Greenleaf’s Maryland drivers permit.
Court records show that even after he was exposed, Greenleaf attempted to spin his sleazy conduct using a State of Maryland Court of Appeals computer as being conducted with an adult.
“Greenleaf believed that “Beth” was a fourteen-year-old or fifteen-year-old girl. “Beth” repeatedly referred to her age and stated that she was a high school student. The hearing judge expressly rejected Greenleaf’s allegation that he believed that “Beth” was an adult who was “role-playing” by posing as a fourteen-year or a fifteen-year-old girl.”
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force snared the former prosecutor and court official who police say used a court computer in the state’s highest court for his online sex chats with purported underage age girls.
The internet dalliance between Greenleaf and the undercover cop was not a flash in the pan.
According to court records, Greenleaf conducted his electronic romance with the would-be teeny-bopper on one hundred and fifty separate dates and half of those encounters were conducted in his Chief Deputy Clerks Office at the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeals building in Annapolis.
The conversations between the official of the high court and “Beth” enabled Greenleaf to use all of his skills as a prosecutor to bear, grilling “Beth” about her “public hair, sexual history, bra size and whether she was taking birth control.”
Court records continued to be explicit and worthy of a tabloid presentation of what goes on behind the closed doors of the Maryland Judiciary.
“Greenleaf often discussed arranging a meeting with “Beth” and described the sexual acts in which he wanted to engage with “Beth”. Greenleaf “groomed” the girl for sexual activity by telling “Beth” that she seemed more mature than a fourteen-year-old or fifteen-year-old girl.”
Court records reveal that Greenleaf made requests to have sex with “Beth” and sent her links to pornographic videos.
The torrid online affair between Greenleaf and “Beth” ended in January of 2011 when Greenleaf was arrested and put on administrative leave.
Appropriately for the State of Maryland, Greenleaf was permitted to retire from his position as the Chief Deputy Clerk on April 1, 2011 (April Fool’s Day) which means that the taxpayers of Maryland provide a pension to this pervert who used his state court office for online sex chat with a person he believed was a minor child.
Court records reveal that on May 31, 2012, Greenleaf provided the prosecution with an Alford Plea, which means that he knows the state has the goods on him and can convict him, but since this is Maryland where even stone killers serve as little as ten years in prison, he received a probation before judgment.
Greenleaf attempted to provide mitigation circumstances to the Court and alleged (1) that he had performed well as the Chief Deputy Clerk of the Court of Special Appeals (his well-documented time doing sex chats from his office not withstanding); (2) to explain and excuse his conduct, he said he was “troubled” at work because he had been transferred to a “secluded office” that was away from other employees. (this may be a tip-off that state court officials knew what he was up to and wanted to put distance between him and themselves); (3) that he completed mental health counseling as a condition of probation (therefore he was now all better!); (4) that as a result of his criminal conduct, he “suffered ignominy” (Google it); and number FIVE of his top ten reasons he shouldn’t be disbarred, he told the Court that “he has shown remorse”. (This is where you can utter the words “Oh, CRAP!)
While the reader may have already come to a conclusion about Greenleaf, it might be of some comfort for those who question the sanity of Maryland in general and the courts in particular to consider the words of the Court of Appeals in this matter when addressing the whining and sniveling of Greenleaf:
“The record demonstrates that the hearing judge allowed Greenleaf to testify on his own behalf and proffer at length. We see no indication that the hearing judge did not consider Greenleaf’s remarks. Given the nature of Greenleaf’s proffer and testimony–i.e., he performed well at work, he was in a secluded office, and he suffered embarrassment–it is evident that the hearing judge did not find this information to be mitigating. Even if the facts that Greenleaf alleges were accurate, it strains credulity that some of them–such as Greenleaf’s work performance or his being moved to another office–would constitute mitigating factors. Thus, we do not adopt as mitigating factors the facts that Greenleaf alleges. The Commission does not except to any of the hearing judge’s conclusions of law. Greenleaf excepts to the hearing judge’s conclusion that he violated CR § 3-324 (Sexual Solicitation of Minor).7 We overrule Greenleaf’s exception and uphold all of the hearing judge’s conclusions of law as to the MLRPC.
“We reject Greenleaf’s ludicrous contention that he did not violate CR § 3-324(b) because he did not intend to violate CR § 3-307 by immediately engaging in intercourse with “Beth” “then and there[,]” but instead was “prepar[ing] for the future[.]” (Emphasis in original). CR § 3-324(b) simply requires that, at the time of the solicitation, a person intends to violate CR § 3-307 at some point in the future–even if the person does not intend to immediately violate CR § 3-307.”
As to the use of the court computers to court a young girl for sex, the Court of Appeals rained down hellfire and damnation on Greenleaf: “Here, clear and convincing evidence supports the hearing judge’s conclusion that Greenleaf violated MLRPC 8.4(c) by using his computer at the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building to communicate with “Beth.” Greenleaf’s use of the computer in the workplace during work time to violate CR § 3-324(b) constituted conduct involving dishonesty. The Court of Special Appeals would neither expect, condone, nor excuse the use of a court computer for the purpose of solicitation of a minor for sex. Such egregious conduct in violation of a criminal statute designed to protect children clearly involved dishonesty as to Greenleaf’s appropriate use of time and equipment. Greenleaf could not have reasonably expected to disclose this activity and remain employed as the Chief Deputy Clerk of the Court, or, for that matter, employed in any capacity by the Court. That said, a lawyer may, at times, make incidental personal use of computer equipment in the workplace without violating MLRPC 8.4(c). Use of computer equipment on multiple occasions–for nearly half of the one hundred fifty dates spanning almost eleven months, from March 8, 2010 through January 25, 2011–to commit the crime of solicitation a minor for sex involved dishonesty as to Greenleaf’s employer, the Maryland Judiciary (specifically, dishonesty as to his workplace activities).
“In sum, it is the extensive use of the computer over a protracted course of time and that Greenleaf clandestinely used the computer to commit a crime, the solicitation of a minor–i.e., that he secretly committed an offense in the workplace for which he knew his employment could be terminated–that causes us to conclude that his conduct constituted dishonesty in violation of MLRPC 8.4(c).11.”
The Court of Appeals even spelled out for Greenleaf further, but quoting definitions of “dishonesty” and “lack of honesty” from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Black’s Law Dictionary, as well as “fraudulent act”.
The Court of Appeals added this statement: “Here, clear and convincing evidence supports the hearing judge’s conclusion that Greenleaf violated MLRPC 8.4(d). Greenleaf solicited for sexual acts a person whom he believed to be a fourteen-year-old or fifteen-year-old girl. Greenleaf was arrested and charged, and entered an Alford plea to a charge of attempting to violate CR § 11-203. Greenleaf’s misconduct tarnished the public’s perception of both the legal profession and Greenleaf’s employer, the Maryland Judiciary.”
On that point, they were wrong. The general public has a very dim view of the legal profession and the Maryland Judiciary, as a result of many shenanigans and screwy acts committed by silly judges and crooked lawyers over the years.
The Court ruled that Greenleaf’s explanations were without merit and he had committed criminal misconduct.
“Eight aggravating factors accompany Greenleaf’s misconduct. First, Greenleaf obviously had the selfish motive of sexual gratification. Second and third, Greenleaf engaged in a pattern of egregious misconduct and committed multiple offenses by communicating with “Beth” on approximately one hundred fifty separate dates. Fourth, Greenleaf has refused to acknowledge his misconduct’s wrongful nature; indeed, Greenleaf: (a) outrageously asks us to give him “credit . . . for not taking matters further” with “Beth”;14 (b) attempts to shift the blame for his misconduct to his employer by contending that he was “trouble[ed]” at work because he had been transferred to a secluded office that was away from other employees; and (c) belittles his misconduct’s egregiousness in a manner that is woefully inappropriate under the instant circumstances, e.g., indicating that his actual plans for “Beth” were for the future. Fifth, Greenleaf’s victim, a purported minor, was vulnerable. Sixth, Greenleaf has substantial experience in the practice of law; he has been a lawyer for over thirty years, was a prosecutor for seventeen years, and at the time of the offense was serving as the Chief Deputy Clerk for the Court of Special Appeals. Seventh, Greenleaf has shown indifference to rehabilitating himself; the hearing judge did not find that Greenleaf had made any attempt to seek professional help. Eighth, Greenleaf engaged in illegal–indeed, criminal–conduct.
“Only one mitigating factor accompanies Greenleaf’s misconduct: the absence of a prior disciplinary record. We reject Greenleaf’s contention that his misconduct is mitigated by such circumstances as the lack of: (1) in-person contact between himself and “Beth”; (2) child pornography; and (3) misconduct that arose out of representation of a client. A lawyer’s misconduct is not mitigated by the lawyer’s refraining from engaging in even more egregious and inappropriate misconduct. Similarly, we reject Greenleaf’s contention that his misconduct is mitigated by other penalties in the form of being placed on probation and leaving his position as the Chief Deputy Clerk of the Court of Special Appeals. Receiving a sentence and losing one’s job are the natural and foreseeable consequences of committing a crime, and crimes against children are among the most heinous crimes of all. Here, Greenleaf did not lose his job; he was permitted to retire. Greenleaf’s misconduct is not mitigated by his being placed on probation or leaving his job. Greenleaf had the intent to violate, mentally scar, and destroy the innocence of a child. Greenleaf is a sexual predator who is a danger to the public and is “unfit to continue” to practice law.
“We are more than satisfied that disbarment is the appropriate sanction for Greenleaf’s egregious misconduct. Greenleaf deliberately solicited and preyed on a person whom he believed to be under the age of consent.
“Sheinbein, Painter, and Dechowitz (other disbarment actions) lead to the inescapable conclusion that disbarment is the appropriate sanction for Greenleaf’s egregious misconduct. If disbarment is the appropriate sanction for an obstructionist, a domestic abuser, and a drug dealer, then disbarment certainly is also the appropriate sanction for a sexual predator like Greenleaf. The solicitation of minors is a deplorable crime that cannot be tolerated in our society, much less tolerated when committed by an attorney, employed by the Judiciary and using State-owned computer equipment to commit the crime in the workplace.
“In sum, we agree. Greenleaf is, indeed, a sexual predator who is a danger to the public and is “unfit to continue” to practice law. Gerace, 433 Md. at 649, 72 A.3d at 577 (citation omitted). For the above reasons, we disbar Greenleaf.”
Take heart, Marylanders, you might be paying for the retirement of this sex offender but he will have to give his address on the Maryland Sex Offender Registry in order to get his state pension check and he won’t be able to practice law.
The final statement on the Court of Appeals ruling: IT IS SO ORDERED; RESPONDENT SHALL PAY ALL COSTS AS TAXED BY THE CLERK OF THIS COURT, INCLUDING COSTS OF ALL TRANSCRIPTS, PURSUANT TO MARYLAND RULE 16-761(b), FOR WHICH SUM JUDGMENT IS ENTERED IN FAVOR OF THE ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION AGAINST ROBERT JOHN GREENLEAF.
Note: A search of the Maryland Sex Offender Registry on May 20, 2014 fails to reveal the name of Robert John Greenleaf even though Maryland’s highest court labels him a “sex offender and sexual predator”.