Friday, April 29, 2016

California Earthquake

Andrew Strickler at Law360 reports

California’s top disciplinary trial counsel, Jayne Kim, announced her pending resignation Thursday following a tumultuous five-year tour.

The resignation of the bar’s chief prosecutor comes despite a trustee vote in December approving Kim’s appointment for a second term. The bar said in a statement that she had previously voiced a desire to leave the Office of Chief Trial Counsel.

“Jayne has only stayed on as chief trial counsel this long because the board asked her to see us through a period of tremendous evolution and transformation,” said bar president David Pasternak. “Our new leadership team is now solidly in place and has profited tremendously from her steady hand at the helm of the OCTC.”

Kim, who was a state bar prosecutor before leaving to be an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, took the top counsel spot in 2011 under then-director Joseph Dunn.

Facing a disciplinary system with large case backlogs and pledges by Dunn to right the course, Kim promised a “zero/zero” goal of no backlogged disciplinary cases and a zero-tolerance approach to attorney disciplinary breaches.

But by the fall of 2014, Dunn had been fired and filed suit against executive director Craig Holden and the bar, alleging he was terminated for exposing a “massive cover-up” of ethics breaches and the removal of backlogged disciplinary cases from public records. The suit pointed to Kim as a central player in the alleged purge.

The bar later argued that an investigation and report prepared by Munger Tolles & Olson LLP found serious misconduct justifying Dunn's firing, including misleading the board about travel expenditures.

Last summer, Dunn lost his bid to keep his state court action out of arbitration. That led to a decision by a JAMS arbitrator earlier this month thatgutted Dunn’s claims.

While Dunn’s Labor Code claim against the bar was tossed with leave to amend, arbitrator Hon. Edward A. Infante found a breach of fiduciary duty claim related to the firing was futile.

Infante also tossed with prejudice Dunn’s allegations that Holden and the board of trustees breached their fiduciary duty to not leak information from a confidential report to the press. He granted Dunn leave to amend the same claim against the bar.

Dunn’s attorney, Mark J. Geragos of Geragos & Geragos PLC, said then that his client would take advantage of the leave to amend and said the defendants would be at a scheduled arbitration in August.

Assistant Chief Trial Counsel Gregory Dresser will serve as acting chief trial counsel during the search for a new chief.

“This is the right time for me to move on,” Kim said. “In declining to seek reappointment I leave with a strong sense of accomplishment and confidence that the bar is on the right track to become an exemplary model of a mission-driven agency.”

— Additional reporting by Dani Meyer and Michael Lipkin. Editing by Ben Guilfoy.

Casey Sullivan at Findlaw's California Case File had a story on January 2016 reappointment of Ms. Kim. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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