C.A. Scolds Attorney Who, in His Brief, Accused Three Judges of Corruption
Div. One of the Court of Appeal for this district has gently chastised an attorney—who for years handled major civil rights cases—for denigrating three Los Angeles Superior Court judges in his appellate brief.
The lawyer is Robert C. Moest, of counsel to the New York-based Brown Law Firm, P.C., serving in its Santa Monica office. He was, for more than 20 years, a partner in the firm of Fleishman, Fisher & Moest—ending in 1999 when partner Stanley Fleishman, who gained prominence as a First Amendment lawyer in the obscenity area, died.
In the trial court and on appeal, Moest represented Arvind Shankar, an obstetrician/gynecologist and former practicing attorney, who was the plaintiff in a multi-defendant medical malpractice action. Summary judgment was granted in favor of the defendants.
In his appeal, Shankar contended that he was denied due process because his motions to disqualify Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Olivia Rosales, Margaret Miller Bernal, and Raul Anthony Sahagun, based on their rulings, were denied.
Justice Victoria Chaney said in an unpublished opinion, filed Thursday:
“Assuming the rulings were erroneous, to establish that refusal to disqualify a judge violates due process the offended party must show more than that the judge made erroneous rulings, he must adduce extreme facts showing the rulings resulted from judicial bias.”
She discussed the allegations and concluded that there was no such showing.
Chaney recited that in his briefs, Moest contended that his client’s “due process rights were violated when he…‘was forced to contend with three overtly corrupt judges’ who ‘whimsically disregarded’ the published law, ‘fabricated legal rules,’ and ‘fabricating facts when necessary to support their corrupt conduct.’ ”
She said that “[w]e regret we must admonish” Moest “about the inappropriate personal attacks in his briefs on the trial judges,” remarking:
“When briefing an appeal, an ad hominem attack on the trial judge is not only unpersuasive, but also unseemly.”
Citing Business & Professions Code §6068(d), she wrote:
“We remind counsel he is an officer of the court, and has a duty to ‘maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers.’ ”
The justice added:
“We do not condone…counsel’s lack of professionalism.”
Recusal Request Denied
Chaney noted at the outset of her discussion that the appellant “informally invites us to recuse ourselves due to the several instances over many years in which we ‘disregarded’ ‘published law or well-settled law,’ specifically in two cases involving his current attorney.”
She added that if Div. One were to do so, “he requests that we refrain from assigning the matter to Division Four of this District, which also, according to” him, “has a penchant for disregarding the law.”
Her answer was:
“We decline the invitation.”
The case is Poe v. Pioneer Medical Group, B314246.
Jan. 20 Opinion
In a Jan. 20 unpublished Div. One opinion, Presiding Justice Frances Rothschild said in a footnote that “Shankar’s counsel”—Moest—“engages in a rambling discussion” of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion “and several matters involving judges and prosecutors from across the country, all of which he claims have undermined the public’s confidence in the judiciary and ‘demonstrate a general breakdown in the foundations of American society.’ ” None of the discussion, she wrote, “has any connection to this case, and we fail to perceive how any of this discussion is relevant to any proper argument in this appeal.”
Rothschild noted that in a supplemental brief, “Shankar’s counsel again engages in an irrelevant and improper discussion regarding the judiciary and law enforcement prosecutorial priorities.” The irrelevant discourses were ignored, she said.
Moest asserted in that Jan. 4 supplemental brief that “a fair trial is a delusion in Los Angeles County,” adding:
“Tens of thousands of pages could not begin to mention all the injustices which the California judiciary has inflicted on Californians....”
Moest received a public reproval by the State Bar in 2000 following his conviction of an unspecified offense.
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