Monday, November 5, 2007
Chick Denies Conspiring Against Attorney Richard Fine
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick denied Friday that she had any involvement in State Bar Court proceedings that have resulted in a recommendation that a Beverly Hills attorney Richard I. Fine.
Fine’s allegations that he was targeted, in part, because Chick, a public member of the State Bar Board of Governors, has received contributions from lobbyists for the developers of Playa Vista while Fine represents area residents who oppose the project are “frivolous” and “without merit,” Chick said through a spokesman.
Chick added that she had “absolutely no recollection of any conversation with, or briefing by, the Office of the Chief Trial Counsel regarding Mr. Fine.”
Fine last week filed a notice in the Los Angeles Superior Court case Environmentalism Through Inspiration and Non Violent Action v. City of Los Angeles (Playa Capital Company, LLC), BS 073182, informing the court that he had been placed on involuntary inactive status by the State Bar and alleging that the State Bar’s action was invalid because Chick had a conflict of interest.
Fine—who acknowledged in a MetNews interview that there is nothing the trial court can do to remedy the alleged conflict—said in his filing that the State Bar charged him with misconduct “for the purpose of benefiting [sic]...Chick,” who, according to public records, received contributions to her officeholder account from lawyers at Latham & Watkins, which represents Playa Capital, as well as from other lawyers and lobbyists interested in the project, and from Playa Capital itself.
The donations cited totaled $5,000.
Fine has made similar charges against former State Bar President Sheldon Sloan, who opposed Fine in other litigation during the time that Fine was under investigation by the State Bar. Sloan, like Chick, has denied any such involvement.
State Bar Court Judge Richard 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, including the filing of frivolous challenges, petitions, and appeals.
Elaborating on Friday, Fine said he believes that due process precludes the State Bar from seeking discipline against any attorney who is adverse to a State Bar Board of Governors member, so long as the matter is ongoing and that member continues to serve on the board.
Only the California Supreme Court, acting independently of the State Bar, can discipline a lawyer in his situation, he asserted.
Saying there was no statute or case law specifically on point, Fine said he doubted that any other California attorney has been recommended for disbarment while litigating against a Board of Governors member.
The attorney also said he has filed ethics complaints against Honn and the State Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel with the state Supreme Court.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company