State Bar Board of Trustees Told to Submit Updates on Internal Conflict Rules
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The State Bar of California was ordered yesterday to provide Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero with updates to its conflict of interest code for members of the Board of Trustees by Aug. 1.
Supreme Court Clerk/Executive Officer Jorge E. Navarrete said in a letter to State Bar Executive Director Leah Wilson:
“The court understands and appreciates that the State Bar has taken several steps to strengthen its internal reporting requirements and procedures regarding its employees’ potential conflicts of interest. The court is also aware that the State Bar has recently recognized the Conflict of Interest Code for the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California is out of date and should be amended.
“To facilitate their prompt review, the Chief Justice, with the support of the other members of the court, directs the State Bar to expedite the drafting of amendments to the Conflict of Interest Code for the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California and submit these amendments to the Chief Justice for consideration no later than August 1, 2023….In addition, the State Bar is directed to develop policies, consistent with Government Code section 11146.3, concerning when and how often trustees should be trained on ethics and conflicts of interest.
“Finally, the court would like to remind the State Bar of its individual and organizational filing obligations related to conflicts of interest….”
A copy of the letter was sent to Ruben Duran, chair of the Board of Trustees, and Brandon Stallings, its vice chair.
A Feb. 4 independent investigation report on the State Bar’s mishandling of complaints against Thomas V. Girardi (now disbarred) says:
“In all, we have discovered evidence connecting at least nine State Bar· employees or Board members who had connections to or accepted items of value, travel, or meals from Girardi at the time they were at the State Bar, State Bar Court, or the Board.”
The board’s policy manual provides:
“Members of the Board of Trustees must act ethically and prudently in exercising their duties, recognizing that their role is that of a fiduciary. Violations of the statutes and policies governing these duties can result in serious penalties, including fines, removal from the Board of Trustees, disqualification from holding public office, or criminal sanctions.”
It specifies that “Board members must file disclosure statements on Form 700 prescribed by the Fair Political Practices Commission” and “must disqualify themselves from making or influencing decisions of the Board, or a committee of the Board, in which they have a financial interest or a personal nonfinancial interest that will prevent them from applying disinterested skill and undivided loyalty to the State Bar.”
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