Monday, April 7, 2014
An attorney's second brush with the disciplinary system drew a proposed one-year suspension wuth fitness by the California State Bar Court
This consolidated proceeding marks the second time Ilse Marie Butterfield’s dishonesty has brought her before the State Bar Court. The first time occurred after she filed a 2009 declaration in federal district court that she signed in her client’s name, and then lied about the signature to the judge and at her deposition. She received probation and a 30-day suspension. Then in 2011, while serving her 30-day suspension, Butterfield falsely informed a superior court that she could not attend a hearing due to a previously set engagement rather than because she was suspended. In the same client matter, she engaged in the unauthorized practice of law (UPL), and later denied it to the State Bar Office of Probation (Probation). Also, she violated several conditions of her probation...
It is worth emphasizing to Butterfield that attorneys are sworn officers of the courts, and "[i]t is, of course, an extremely serious breach of an attorney’s duty to lie in statements made to the court." (In re Aguilar (2004) 34 Cal.4th 386, 394.) Practically speaking, our courts simply cannot function unless they can trust that the attorneys appearing before them are telling the truth. Honesty is absolutely fundamental in the practice of law; without it, " ‘the profession is worse than valueless in the place it holds in the administration of justice.’ " (In re Menna, supra, 11 Cal.4th at p. 989].) Since this case is Butterfield’s second disciplinary matter, any future failure to comply with her ethical responsibilities may result in her disbarment. (Std. 1.8(b) [disbarment for third discipline case unless compelling mitigation clearly predominates].)
The suspension will be followed by probation for three years. (Mike Frisch)