State Board of Architects – Summer Report 2019

The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation announced that Mr. Rory Wise has been appointed to the position of Assistant Executive Director of the five Design Boards. Mr. Wise had served with the Maryland Department of Corrections for 20 years as well as at Perkins State Hospital and now turns his hand to working with design professionals.

A committee has been appointed by the SBOA to examine the present Maryland Regulations for “Continuing Professional Competency” Maryland-speak for Continuing Education Credits. Maryland regulations say one thing, the AIA Continuing Education System says another, while the NCARB says something else. SBOA Chair Paul Edmeades, AIA, chairs this committee, assisted by Executive Director Joe Cullingford, Cynthia Shonaiya, AIA Magda Westerhaut, AIA, and John F. Corkill, Jr., AIA. The committee is faced with countless pages of verbiage to simplify. For instance, the present Maryland architect’s regulations do not permit independent study for CEU’s or in SBOA-speak, Professional Competency Units, but the AIA Transcript does.

Members of Maryland’s 100 professional boards are all breathing more easily since the unexpected $2.5M judgement rendered by Judge Rubin of the Montgomery County Circuit Court against the Maryland Board of Physicians has been set aside by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. On June 2nd, the Hon. Judge Kevin F. Arthur overturned the judgement, citing the Immunity from prosecution for state professional boards and their staffs he found in many laws and legal precedents, both state and federal. The question of the Physicians’ board staff and member’s conduct rising to legally actionable levels was not examined in detail by Judge Arthur as it had been by Judge Rubin in his judgement.

Rather, Judge Arthur wrote in his over 100 page opinion about the conundrum in US Laws covering the ability of professional boards to feel free during their deliberations from pressures by persons outside the hearing room. On the other hand, a free people need to feel that professional boards are not above and beyond the law, given the ancient right of kings and despots for absolute impunity in their actions.

Maryland law clearly accords professional board members and staffers immunity from prosecution by the public – as long as they deliberate without malice. Where Judge Rubin saw Physicians’ board members and staff as having strayed from impartiality in their deliberations, emails, and memos, Judge Arthur did not. By the way, also waived was the Rubin Judgement’s demand that the Physicians’ board cover millions of dollars of Dr. Geier’s legal fees.

None of the Geier case affects in any way the fact that the US Federal Trade Commission is still located in DC, right across Constitution Avenue from the National Gallery of Art, so the SBOA and the Engineers’ Board have no reason to feel free of eventual adjudication. The FTC has been very quiet lately, given the anti-regulatory doctrine currently emanating from farther up Pennsylvania Avenue. But with the restoration of normal order expected after the 2020 election, the FTC’s anti-trust lawyers, victors in the US Supreme Court over the trade-restraining North Carolina Dentists’ Board,  will be free to look east to Maryland and the restraint of trade situation afflicting over 60% of Maryland residents who must pay extra for unneeded engineers’ seals on architects’ drawings of even modest construction projects.