Thursday, July 19. 2001
S.C. Denies Reinstatement to Lawyer Convicted of Perjury
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts
A former Newport Beach lawyer, convicted of perjury nine years ago for sending an impostor to take a DNA test for him in a paternity suit, was denied reinstatement to the State Bar yesterday by the California Supreme Court.
The court, without comment, unanimously denied William Yacobozzi Jr.’s petition for review and adopted the State Bar Court’s recommendation that the onetime criminal defense lawyer not be allowed to reclaim the license he gave up in 1992.
The action was taken at the court’s weekly conference.
Yacobozzi drew a six-month jail term for lying about who took the test, which was arranged after an earlier test showed a probability of more than 99 percent that the lawyer, then 60, was the father of the then-six-year-old child of a former client.
Yacobozzi was charged on the basis of a photograph of the unidentified impostor, taken by a technician when the test was given. The attorney claimed that he took the test and was photographed, and that his photo and the one that was introduced in court were somehow switched.
He resigned from the State Bar after seven months of interim suspension. At the time he was facing disciplinary proceedings stemming from the criminal case and from claims he mishandled client funds.
He was also under investigation in several other matters.
He petitioned for reinstatement in 1997. The hearing judge, Madge S. Watai—since elevated to the Review Department—recommended denial in 1999 and the Review Department agreed in an opinion filed May 14 of this year.
The Review Department determined that Yacobozzi engaged in the unauthorized practice of law while operating a paralegal service after his resignation; submitted an incomplete reinstatement application, failing to disclose over 40 lawsuits in which he was involved including 11 in which he was sued for malpractice; and gave “unbelievable” testimony as to why the suits were omitted.
Rehabilitation Not Shown
“His lack of candor does not show that he has been rehabilitated and can be trusted with the high duties required of an attorney,” Judge Ronald Stovitz wrote for the Review Department.
Yacobozzi did not return phone calls. He is currently selling real estate in Sparks, Nev. and recently lectured real estate professionals in that area on “15 Ways to Stay Out of Trouble” under the state’s real estate laws.
In other action, the justices:
•Agreed to decide whether the former chairman of the radiology department at UC Davis Medical Center can sue for damages as a result of his firing.
Richard Katzberg acknowledged that the chair was an at-will position, so he had no property interest in the job. But he argued that being terminated for alleged financial improprieties stigmatized him, thus depriving him of “liberty” without due process.
Lower courts ruled that the university’s offer of a “name-clearing” hearing, made more than three years after Katzberg was terminated as chair, satisfied due process and that Katzberg lacked a claim for damages.
The case is Katzberg v. Regents of the University of California, 88 Cal.App.4th 147.
•Agreed to review a First District Court of Appeal ruling overturning a second-degree murder conviction in the beating death of a 19-month-old girl. Div. Two held that the defendant, the boyfriend of the victim’s mother, didn’t get a fair trial because the court allowed peremptory challenges to African American jurors based on voir dire responses that a divided Div. Two said weren’t significantly different from those given by white jurors who went unchallenged.
The case is People v. Johnson, 88 Cal.App.4th 318.
•Agreed to decide whether provisions of Proposition 21 which make it easier to revoke juvenile probation may be applied to offenders placed on probation for conduct occurring prior to the measure’s adoption in March of last year. The Fourth District Court of Appeal, Div. One, agreed with prosecutors that applying the new standards in such cases doesn’t constitute the ex post facto clauses.
The case is John L. v. Superior Court, 88 Cal.App.4th 715.
•Agreed to decide whether a successor corporation sued for torts allegedly committed by its predecessor may be entitled to coverage under the predecessor’s policies with respect to claims existing as of the day it became the successor. Div. Five of this district’s Court of Appeal, reversing the trial court, said the successor acquired the predecessor’s rights under the policies by operation of law, notwithstanding that the policies contained a “no assignment” clause.
The case is Henkel Corp. v. Hartford Accident and Indemnity, 88 Cal.App.4th 876.
The court took all of the above actions unanimously.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company