Saturday, May 18, 2019
An unpublished opinion of the California State Bar Court Review Department
This matter concerns Sanjay Bhardwaj’s egregious misconduct stemming from his divorce from Anupama Pathak (Pathak). With his conduct being described by a superior court judge as "absolutely outrageous," Bhardwaj was declared a vexatious litigant by the Alameda County Superior Court in 2013. Nevertheless, he continued to use the courts to relentlessly bully his ex-wife. In 2014, a court stated, "[Bhardwaj] continues to recycle the same unmeritorious, and repeatedly rejected arguments." As a result of his misconduct, Bhardwaj has been sanctioned more than $140,000.
The hearing judge recommended disbarment
Bhardwaj seeks review. He requests dismissal, arguing, among other things, that OCTC presented insufficient evidence to establish culpability for any charge, that the State Bar lacks jurisdiction over his conduct, and that he was merely trying to protect his property rights. This is Bhardwaj’s first discipline since he was admitted to practice in 2008; however, he began his misconduct only a year after he became a member of the bar.
Based on our independent review (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.12), we agree with most of the hearing judge’s culpability and aggravation findings. We also find that Bhardwaj presented no evidence to mitigate his disruptive and harmful misconduct, and appears likely to continue such behavior in the future. We recommend disbarment as the only discipline adequate to protect the public, the courts, and the legal profession.
Bhardwaj argues that all charges against him should be dismissed. He maintains that he is not subject to the court’s jurisdiction and that he is completely free of any wrongdoing. We reject these arguments. Bhardwaj used his legal knowledge to repeatedly file frivolous actions and harass his ex-wife, opposing counsel, and a real estate agent. He sought to cloud the title to the family home to force Pathak to sell it to him. His misconduct went beyond vexatious litigation as it involved substantial aggravation, including a lengthy pattern of wrongdoing, significant harm to others, disregard for the court process, and a total lack of insight into his harmful behavior. And he has failed to establish any mitigation.
Given these circumstances, we conclude that Bhardwaj should be disbarred...