Stephen L. Snyder got his license to practice law again.
The federally indicted medical malpractice attorney was reinstated to the Maryland Bar late Friday when the state Supreme Court agreed to lift the suspension that Snyder first agreed to in October 2020.
Chief Justice Matthew J. Fader wrote that the majority of the justices agreed that there was no basis to continue Snyder’s suspension.
Snyder was not convicted of a crime. He is charged in federal court with threatening to embarrass the University of Maryland medical system if it didn’t offer him a $25 million consulting contract, which federal prosecutors are calling a fraud and attempted racketeering.
Snyder agreed to the temporary suspension of his license to practice law when he was first charged. But the federal case has dragged on since 2020, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Snyder has been unable to practice law for much longer than intended, he said as he sought to have his suspension ended.
Snyder asked to be reinstated earlier this month. In his filing, Snyder said the protracted legal battle took a toll on his finances, forcing him to draw on his life savings and retirement savings to pay for his defense. Without his law license, Snyder couldn’t work to replenish that money, he said.
UMMS officials contacted federal agencies after Snyder offered the $25 million consulting contract in 2018. The alleged extortion attempt took place during settlement talks with UMMS on behalf of one of Snyder’s clients, a woman whose husband allegedly died of a botched transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Prosecutors say Snyder coupled the request with threats to publicly expose problems with the hospital’s transplant program, including by going to the news media or airing self-produced videos about the problems he allegedly uncovered.
“I don’t care if I don’t do anything (for the money),” Snyder said, according to the indictment. The deal would ensure that Snyder would be “fought out” of future lawsuits against UMMS.
Snyder has denied the allegations, arguing that the counseling offer was a genuine attempt to reach an agreement with UMMS. A motion to dismiss the charges is pending in the US District Court in Baltimore.
The case remains on hold pending an appeal to the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Details of the appeal are sealed, but court records indicate they are grand jury subpoenas.
Sndyer’s request for reinstatement presents the case against him as part of UMMS’s effort to “neutralize” him over his years of medical malpractice litigation against the hospital system.
Snyder said in the filing that he made several attempts to ensure the consulting business was legitimate, including seeking advice from Andrew J. Graham, a Baltimore attorney who deals with ethics issues. UMMS declined to meet with Graham at federal prosecutors’ urging, Snyder’s filing alleges.
A few months before Snyder was charged, the Maryland Bar Association filed a disciplinary complaint against him based on a complaint by UMMS, which also filed reports with state and federal attorneys.
After being indicted in October 2020, Snyder agreed to temporarily suspend his license to practice law so he could focus on defending the criminal charges.
Snyder said he believed his criminal case would end quickly, in part because he felt his efforts to get UMMS officers to meet Graham showed a lack of criminal intent to blackmail the hospital system, so his request for reinstatement.
Bar Counsel declined to comment on Snyder’s request for reinstatement.
The hearing on Snyder’s federal appeal is scheduled for the week of March 7-10.