Friday, November 2, 2007
Judge Denies Motion to Stay Discipline Order Against Richard Fine
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A State Bar Court hearing judge has denied motions by a Beverly Hills attorney to set aside or stay a disbarment recommendation and order for involuntary inactive enrollment.
Judge Richard A. Honn ruled Tuesday that Richard I. Fine “has not established that the court’s disbarment decision is flawed,” that Fine’s claims of procedural irregularities in the filing and service of the prior order are without merit, that Fine’s motions reiterated arguments that were “incredible, meritless, or both” and that he had an “obsession with his view of the facts.”
Honn also wrote that the motions and supporting documents included “repetitive false, unreasoned, and unreasonable statements” concerning some of the grounds on which disbarment was recommended. He also said that he gave Fine a fair trial, and that due process did not require that he “expressly address and reject each of [Fine’s] exculpatory statements and contentions.”
A judicial decision, Honn wrote, “is not a ‘reply brief’ to [the losing party’s] testimony and contentions.” But the judge said he wanted it to be clear that he “carefully considered each exculpatory statement and contention that respondent raised in his posttrial briefs and motions.”
Honn, in an order filed Oct. 12, directed that Fine be placed on temporary inactive status and recommended that he be disbarred for “improper and vindictive reactions” to rulings of Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Bruce Mitchell and other judicial officers.
In that order, Honn said that Fine went on a “litigation rampage” against Mitchell after the commissioner awarded him less than the amount of interim attorney fees he was seeking for representing the plaintiffs in a class action regarding a phony doctor who had performed about 1,000 insurance physicals.
Among other misconduct, the hearing judge found, Fine filed 12 meritless challenges to Mitchell, including one challenge that had no apparent legal basis and was brought solely for harassment; filed a meritless appeal of a nonexistent order purportedly made by Mitchell; filed frivolous challenges and petitions in another case solely to harass Mitchell and other bench officers; and made misrepresentations to the courts by claiming that a visiting superior court judge had found that Mitchell was “not impartial” with respect to a case in which his disqualification was sought, when, Honn found, Fine knew that the judge had found that Mitchell was impartial and that the contrary statement in the minute order was a typographical error.
Fine said yesterday that he had not received a copy of the order, which—according to the certificate of service—was mailed to his office on Tuesday.
But after portions of the order were read over the phone, Fine said the decision “clearly shows [Honn] did not consider anything” after Fine “raised all of the issues and all of the facts.”
Noting that State Bar prosecutors did not file counteraffidavits, Fine insisted that “on that basis alone the motion should have been granted” and that the “denial of due process...was very clear...and was not addressed at all” in Tuesday’s order.
Fine said he would appeal to the State Bar Court Review Department. If he loses there, he said, it will show that the State Bar “has put the interests of the members of the State Bar Board of Governors before the public interest.”
The latter reference, Fine explained, is to Sheldon Sloan, the immediate past president of the State Bar, who is opposed to Fine in litigation regarding the validity of county leases in Marina del Rey, and to Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick.
Fine cited public records showing Chick, a public member of the Board of Governors as well as an elected official, received donations to her officeholders account from attorneys and lobbyists whose clients have interests adverse to those of the area residents and environmental groups Fine is representing in litigation concerning the Playa Vista development.
Sloan has told the MetNews he had no contact with State Bar counsel concerning Fine, and that as a policymaking official he never interfered in discipline matters. Chick could not be contacted after Fine spoke to the MetNews late yesterday.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company