Wednesday, August 8, 2018
One aspect of the California Bar discipline process that has real teeth is the severe effect of a default, as reflected by a recent State Bar Court Hearing Department recommendation for disbarment
Rule 5.85 provides the procedure to follow when an attorney fails to appear at trial after receiving adequate notice and opportunity. The rule provides that, if an attorney’s default is entered for failing to appear at trial and the attorney fails to have the default set aside or vacated within 45 days, OCTC will file a petition requesting the court to recommend the attorney’s disbarment.
The case involves a former prosecutor who had actual notice of the matter
reasonable diligence was used to notify Respondent of this proceeding. Shortly before filing the [Notice of Disciplinary Charges] , an OCTC senior trial counsel spoke with Respondent on the telephone. Respondent stated that she did not want to participate in the imminent disciplinary proceedings and requested that OCTC “stop bugging” her. She went on to state that she did not want to be an attorney and would be leaving the State of California.
The defaulted misconduct
Respondent willfully violated rule 5-220 of the Rules of Professional Conduct (suppression of evidence) by failing to comply with her legal obligation (pursuant to California Penal Code section 1054, et seq.) to produce evidence reflecting relevant statements of witnesses who were to testify at trial in People of the State of California v. Leonard Terrance Woods, Riverside County Superior Court, case No. RIF 1103914.
She failed to obey a court order to product the statements and
Respondent willfully violated Business and Professions Code section 6068, subdivision ((1) (seeking to mislead a judge), by knowingly stating to the court that no discoverable email correspondence with trial witnesses existed when Respondent knew that statement was false.
The default also conceded that the conduct involved moral turpitude. (Mike Frisch)