Friday, November 3, 2006
Court Denies Attorney’s Request to Lift Suspension, Orders Probe
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The California Supreme Court has denied a West Hollywood attorney’s request to vacate an order barring him from the practice of law, and instead ordered the State Bar to investigate whether he has been practicing while suspended.
At its weekly conference Wednesday, the court denied Thomas N. Thomson’s request for review of the State Bar Court’s denial of his motion to vacate its July order placing him on involuntary status. In July, the Review Department recommended that Thomson be disbarred, and immediately placed him on involuntary inactive status.
State Bar Court trial counsel Alan B. Gordon told the MetNews that the disbarment recommendation was filed with the Supreme Court on Oct. 11, and Thomson would have 60 days from that date to seek review. His said that so far Thomson has only sought review of the suspension.
Gordon declined to speculate why the Supreme Court ordered another investigation when the bar’s findings and recommendations of disbarment are already before it.
In issuing its recommendation of disbarment, the department agreed with Hearing Judge Robert M. Talcott’s findings that Thomson was culpable of disobeying a court order, failing to report judicial sanctions, engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and disobeying probation conditions.
The facts were not in dispute. A bankruptcy court issued preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining Thomson’s debtor client, the debtor’s brother and those acting in concert with him from bringing any suit affecting certain real property.
Found in Contempt
Thomas filed a suit on behalf of a corporation owned by the debtor and his brother that adversely affected title to the property. Thomas then filed a lis pendens against the property.
The Bankruptcy Court found the debtor, his brother and Thomson to be in contempt of the injunctions and sanctioned Thomson $46,359.72. Thomson failed to report the sanctions to the bar.
Thomson argued that the bankruptcy judge erred because the injunction did not apply to the corporation, which was not named in the order and not subject to the bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction. But the bankruptcy court, the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, and the Ninth Circuit, as well as Talcott and the Review Department held that the injunction applied to Thomson himself.
Talcott recommended a five-year stayed suspension, a five-year term of probation and a four-year actual suspension with conditions. The Review Department agreed with Talcott’s findings, but recommended that Thomson be disbarred, and placed him on immediate involuntary inactive status.
Review Judge Judith A. Epstein, writing for the review panel, noted that it was Thomson’s fifth disciplinary proceeding and that he has continuously been on probation since 1994, and said he had repeatedly violated court orders, failed to report court sanctions and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
“Respondent [Thomson] has demonstrated no meaningful appreciation of his ethical responsibilities and has established himself as unsuitable to practice law and not amendable to efforts to reform.”
Thomson could not be reached for comment, but when the MetNews called his number listed with the bar, the recorded message said:
“You have reached Thomas Thomson law offices. Please leave a message . . . .”
In addition to the matters referenced by the State Bar Court, Thomson, who was admitted in 1971, was suspended 10 time between 1987 and this year for failure to pay bar dues, records show.
Since-retired Presiding Judge Ronald W. Stovitz and Review Judge Madge S. Watai concurred in Epstein’s opinion.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company