Thursday, July 14, 2022
The ABA Journal has reported on recent public charges filed by the California State Bar alleging two false statements by its former Executive Director.
Alleged false statements
On or about May 6, 2014, respondent, in his capacity as Executive Director, recommended that the Board sponsor the California State Assembly Bill AB 852 and stated in writing to the Board that “there is no known opposition to the measure” when respondent knew that statement was false and misleading. Respondent thereby committed an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption in willful violation of Business and Professions Code, section 6106.
In or about November 2013, respondent, in his capacity as Executive Director, stated to the Board that no State Bar funds would be used to fund a trip to Mongolia in January 2014 when respondent knew that statement was false and misleading. Respondent thereby committed an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption in willful violation of Business and Professions Code, section 6106.
Respondent had sued the State Bar for wrongful termination from his position and lost as reported by the Sacramento Bee in 2017
Capping a years-long conflict, an arbitrator Monday rejected former state Sen. Joseph Dunn’s allegation that he was fired as executive director of the State Bar for blowing the whistle on the licensing organization’s lapses.
Arbitrator Edward Infante had conducted a trial-like hearing into Dunn’s allegations last month in Los Angeles, and Monday’s 30-page ruling exonerated the State Bar, which had said it fired Dunn in 2014 for misleading the agency’s board about critical policy matters.
Dunn had initially filed a lawsuit against the State Bar, but his allegation was diverted into an arbitration proceeding under terms of his contract. Infante found that Dunn had, indeed, misled the board.
Dunn, a Democrat who represented Orange County in the Senate, had sought more than $4 million for his whistleblower claim and another $190,000 in severance pay.
Dunn’s stormy tenure as State Bar executive director and his subsequent whistleblower claim have roiled an agency already under fire for running up a backlog of disciplinary actions against the attorney it licenses.
Last year, the Legislature deadlocked on an otherwise routine bill authorizing the State Bar to continue collecting “dues” from attorneys to support its operations.
The conflict was over how extensively the Legislature should write State Bar reforms.
The state Supreme Court authorized the State Bar to continue collecting dues until the legislative stalemate was resolved, and it’s back on the agenda for this year’s legislative session.
This case bears close scrutiny. These alleged false statements were made eight and nine years ago and apparently were well known to disciplinary authorities for at least five years.
Justice, retaliation or a mix?
It is fair to say that the California disciplinary arm has once again not covered itself in glory. (Mike Frisch)