Monday, August 19, 2013
The California State Bar Court has recommended a stayed two-year suspension and probation of an attorney as a result of two misdemeanor convictions for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old employee.
He has been suspended on an interim basis for nearly four years.
The court found no ethical violation in the attorney's declaration that he had notified clients of the interim suspension. The State Bar claimed that the declaration was false because he had failed to notify eight of his approximately 4,500 active clients.
Rather, the court found that he "reasonably complied" with the notice obligations to clients.
The conviction took place in 2001 and was not transmitted by the State Bar until 2009.
As to sanction, the court states
Although [the attorney's] sexual relationship was with a minor, she was 17 years old, not a 14-year-old boy as in [a case where disbarment was imposed]. The substantial age differential between [the attorney] and his employee is a concern and his conduct was irresponsible and unacceptable. But we cannot conclude that his misconduct involved such a flagrant disrespect for the law o societal norms as to warrant his disbarment, especially when the majority of states do not criminalize his misconduct.
According to the opinion, it is not criminal to have sex with a 17-year-old in 33 states and the District of Columbia. (Mike Frisch)