Friday, February 15, 2002
Warden Maintains LACBA Rated Him ‘Not Qualified’ Due to Business Tax Liability, Not Personal Integrity
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
Encino civil attorney Thomas Warden said yesterday that his “not qualified” rating and questions about his integrity by the Los Angeles County Bar Association were based on a tax liability against his former law firm.
Warden suffered a blow in his bid for a seat on the Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday when the County Bar released Warden’s “not qualified” rating. After being tentatively rated “not qualified,” Warden appealed, but lost that appeal earlier this week.
Warden was given the lowest possible rating by the County Bar because, the association’s report said, “there are questions pertaining to his integrity and character, and he does not possess the depth and breadth of professional experience.”
Warden’s opponents, Workers’ Compensation Judge John Gutierrez and Deputy District Attorney, were rated “qualified” and “well qualified,” respectively.
Warden said his low rating is “like losing a child.”
“It erases all the good that has been done over the last 30 years,” Warden said.
He maintained that his personal integrity should not be judged on a business decision made by him and his two partners, Ronald A. Gart and Jeffrey Galen.
“It’s disappointing because it has nothing to do with the practice of law,” Warden said.
Warden explained the issue arose when an Internal Revenue Service audit of the Warden, Gart & Galen’s books for 1997 revealed problems with the way the business was run and that the firm owed taxes.
The partners were informed by their tax attorney that the liability belonged entirely to the firm and not to the individual partners, Warden said. Based on that advice, the partners decided not to pay personally the taxes owed to the firm, he said.
“It’s guilt by association,” Warden remarked.
The other two partners have no intention of ever paying that tax liability, he added.
Warden said the County Bar panelists believed that he should have gotten out of the partnership sooner or should have prevented the problem in the first place.
“I explained that it was not just me personally, but they felt that it shows bad integrity with the candidate,” he said.
Once the problem was discovered, the partnership was dissolved, Warden noted.
Warden, Gart & Galen lasted just over two years. After the breakup Warden became a sole practitioner.
“It’s like a bad marriage,” Warden said. “You break up and move on from there.”
Warden said that while many voters do not really understand the County Bar’s rating system, his “not qualified” evaluation cannot help at the polls.
“I think its going to have a negative impact,” Warden said.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company