Monday, July 14, 2008
State Bar to Probe Newly Elected Board Member’s Eligibility for Office
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The State Bar Board of Governors Friday authorized President Jeffrey Bleich to appoint a committee to inquire and to report back to the board as to whether Michael Tenenbaum, the newly elected board member from District 6, is eligible to serve.
The committee, which is to consist of one current and two former board members, will look into allegations—by persons who have not been publicly identified—that Tenenbaum’s principal office is not located in the district, as required by the State Bar Act.
The non-contiguous District 6 consists of Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Tenenbaum, who defeated Redlands attorney Bryan C. Hartnell by a little over 100 votes, with Riverside lawyer A. Benjamin Aames a distant third.
Tenenbaum told the MetNews Friday that his office is in his home, in Thousand Oaks in Ventura County.
Hartnell and Aames both said they heard reports during the campaign that Tenenbaum actually practiced from an office outside the district, but that they did not investigate and were in no way involved in instigating Friday’s action by the board.
The board directed that none of the members of the committee that will look into the matter come from District 6 or from District 7, which is Los Angeles County. Tenenbaum is a member of the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, a State Bar spokesperson said.
Hartnell and Aames both said it was unclear what the board would do if it determines Tenenbaum is ineligible. Aames said he hoped that it would order a new election between Hartnell and himself, but said it was also possible that Hartnell, as the second-place finisher, would be declared the winner.
Hartnell declined to speculate as to what action the board might take.
The District 6 seat is one of five that were up for election this year. The board has 15 attorney members who are elected by district, and one-third of those seats are filled annually for three-year terms.
There were no other apparent controversies as the board certified the results for the other four seats on Thursday.
Los Angeles attorney James Aguirre, with the firm of Richardson and Fair, defeated Century City sole practitioner Marty O’Toole, and Diamond Bar sole practitioner James Li, for the only contested seat in District 7. Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Davis of Los Angeles was “deemed elected” to the other seat that is up for election this year because no one else filed to run for it.
Jon Streeter, a partner with Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco, defeated Elizabeth England, and Joe Alioto Veronese of San Francisco and Ronald P. Goldman of Tiburon in District 4 (San Francisco and Marin counties.)
Joseph L. Chairez of Costa Mesa, a Baker & Hostetler partner and former Orange County Bar Association president, was deemed elected in District 8 (Orange County.)
The board also certified election results for members of the Board of Governors of the California Young Lawyers Association, who are elected from the same districts. Elected in District 7 were Rhonda A. Haymon of the Office of the Public Defender and Steven H. Sutow of the Mid-Wilshire firm of Pierce & Weiss, LLP, defeating Christopher L. Dengler of Jones Day’s downtown Los Angeles office.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company