Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The California State Bar Court Review Department has recommended that an attorney be disbarred for misappropriating over $136,000 from five clients.
The Review Department noted substantial mitigation.
The attorney had "practiced law in California for over 25 years without incident until a traumatic personal crisis caused him to deteriorate emotionally and professionally, resulting in a serious decline in his previously productive practice." The attorney admitted the misconduct and argued that disbarment was an excessive sanction given the mitigation.
The attorney had been a "highly regarded" personal injury lawyer with a record of public service.
The tragic circumstances involved his eldest daughter, who was drugged and raped at a party. The daughter later revealed that she was also raped by a family friend.
The attorney's marriage suffered, he began to drink heavily at the office and his income declined due to the resulting lack of productivity.
He took money from his retirement savings and his wife's inheritance. When that ran out, he "turned to his client trust account." (Mike Frisch)