Thursday, February 13, 2014
An attorney who pleaded no contest to misdemeanor child endangerment charges should be subject to a stayed one year suspension, with an actual suspension of 120 days and probation for two years, according to a recent decision by the Review Department of the California State Bar Court.
The attorney had left his nine-month old daughter unattended in a crib in a Santa Monica hotel room "for at least forty minutes" while taking his three-year-old son for a walk.
The situation as discovered by a bellman who was delivering a baby bottle. When the bellman was unable to reach the attorney by phone, he called the authorities.
The attorney was found to be remorseful and cooperative with the State Bar. The evidence showed that he was deeply affected by this lapse. His wife testified that he was otherwise a good father to his children.
The review department agreed with the hearing judge that the offense did not involve moral turpitude.
Citing two instances of prior discipline, the State Bar sought disbarment. The State Bar contended that the attorney had lied to police.
Neither the hearing judge or the review department found that violation.
The review department was quite critical of the State Bar's changing position on moral turpitude.
The report clearly viewed the disbarment recommendation as excessive, noting that the conduct here (unlike the attorney's prior bar cases) had absolutely nothing to do with the practice of law.
I have to agree. The State Bar's position on sanction is hard to fathom. (Mike Frisch)