Monday, April 8, 2013

Disbarment Proposed For California DA

From L.A. Now:

A California bar court has recommended that Del Norte County Dist. Atty. Jon Michael Alexander be stripped of his law license for prosecutorial misconduct.

In an opinion released Friday, the State Bar Court of  California found Alexander  guilty of withholding exculpatory evidence, perjury and speaking to a defendant without the permission of her attorney.

“His abuse of his prosecutorial power has negatively impacted the reputation of the district attorney’s office and the public’s trust in the judicial system,” the court wrote.

The 26-page ruling said Alexander also  had three prior cases of discipline for misconduct and disclosed that he did official business with friends with whom he had financial ties. Alexander, 64, was elected district attorney in 2010.

In one case, he lent a probation officer $14,000. The officer, who was a close friend, was assigned to Alexander's cases both as a public defender and later when he was elected district attorney.  A probation officer makes recommendations to judges about sentencing.

As district attorney, Alexander also oversaw a criminal case handled by a lawyer who had lent him money and who was representing him in bar disciplinary matters.

Although the relationships did not amount to moral turpitude, they can cast doubt on his impartial judgment, the court said.

Alexander had argued that he was not required to disclose such relationships because they are well-known to others  in small counties like Del Norte.  The court rejected the argument. “Small counties are not exempt from disclosure requirements,” he court said.

Alexander was disbarred for meeting with a defendant in a drug case without the knowledge of her attorney, later lying under penaly of perjury that he had immediately informed the defendant’s lawyer and failing to disclose to another lawyer that the woman had provided exculpatory evidence about his client.

The California Supreme Court must approve the disbarment, but Alexander will be barred from practicing law in the meantime, the bar said.

The Recorder has detailed information concerning the ethics charges. (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2013/04/disbarment-proposed-for-california-da.html

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