Monday, June 25, 2012
High Court Sends Discipline Cases Back to State Bar
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The California Supreme Court has returned 24 attorney discipline cases to the State Bar for a second look in an order that suggests the proposed discipline was too lenient, the State Bar said Friday.
In an order issued Thursday, the State Bar explained in a release, the high court sent the cases back for reconsideration “The above-entitled matters are returned to the State Bar for further consideration “in light of the applicable attorney discipline standards,” citing n re Silverton (2005) 36 Cal.4th 81, 89-94; and In re Brown (1995) 12 Cal.4th 205, 220.
The Silverton case involved Ronald Silverton, a former Los Angeles attorney who ran unsuccessfully for the State Bar Board of Governors and the Los Angeles Superior Court. A persistent critic of the disciplinary process, he was disbarred in 1975, reinstated in 1992, and ultimately disbarred again for entering into unconscionable agreements with personal injury clients that allowed him to negotiate lien settlements with medical providers and keep the money, in addition to his contingency fees in the personal injury cases.
The State Bar Court found that suspension would be adequate discipline in the latter case, but the Supreme Court disagreed and ordered a second disbarment.
State Bar Executive Director Joe Dunn commented in a release Friday:
“We take the Supreme Court’s citation of the Silverton case very seriously. It is a reminder that our State Bar discipline system must demand the highest professional standards of California attorneys.”
“The Court’s action, while unanticipated, is consistent with the efforts already underway at the State Bar to tighten the professional standards governing California attorneys. The return of these cases gives us an opportunity to further advance this goal.”
The State Bar noted that the cases sent back for review predated new policies by current Chief Trial Counsel Jayne Kim.
“Early in her term as Acting CTC, Kim began requiring management approval of proposed discipline to ensure consistency, adherence to the discipline standards and maximum public protection,” the State Bar noted. “Previous practice did not so rigorously require this.”
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