Thursday, January 2, 2014

Some Days Are Diamonds

More from the most recent California Bar Journal

[An attorney] was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years’ probation with an actual six-month suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Oct. 19, 2013.

[The attorney] pleaded no contest in 2012 to one misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace following his arrest for an incident involving a lost diamond bracelet. [He] was initially charged with four felonies and the State Bar Court found that his actions involved moral turpitude.

In 2011, [he] found a diamond bracelet and attempted to sell it, only to learn that the owner had been contacting pawnshops and jewelry stores in an effort to get it back. He arranged to meet the woman to return the bracelet in exchange for $4,000, but the woman first notified police, who agreed to do a sting at the meeting site. Nervous upon spotting the undercover officers, [he] twice changed the agreed-upon meeting spot. The woman handed him $3,000 – all the money she had. After the exchange was completed, the officers moved in with their guns drawn and conducted a felony stop, leading [him] to throw the money out of his car screaming, “Do not shoot me.”

Although he was only convicted of disturbing the peace, State Bar Court Judge Pat McElroy noted in her decision that [he] engaged in offensive behavior.

“He had a moral lapse or a lapse of character on that day,” McElroy wrote. “It is a basic ‘accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man’ that one does not keep what does not belong to him.”

In mitigation, [he] honestly but erroneously thought he was getting a reward for returning the bracelet, that it was an acceptable arrangement and that the woman was setting him up to be robbed. He also showed remorse and has been active in pro bono and community service

(Mike Frisch)

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