Friday, January 21, 2000
Disciplinary Charges Against Judicial Candidate Silverton Have Not Been Resolved, State Bar Spokesperson Says
By ROGER M. GRACE, Editor
Los Angeles attorney Ronald R. Silverton, a candidate for a Los Angeles Municipal Court open seat, misspoke when he claimed in an interview that no State Bar disciplinary proceedings are pending against him, the MetNews has learned.
"Mr. Silverton is wrong," a State Bar spokesperson said yesterday. "He does have disciplinary charges pending."
State Bar prosecutors have appealed the May 9 decision of a State Bar Court judge dismissing the charges, the spokesperson said. In the eyes of the State Bar, charges remain "pending" until they are finally resolved, she explained.
No date has been set for a hearing in the Review Department, the spokesperson noted.
Silverton's statement that no charges were pending was reported yesterday in a profile on a judicial race in which he is pitted against five rivals. The winner of the contest will, in light of trial-court unification which takes place tomorrow, be sworn in as a member of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
The lawyer commented yesterday that to his mind, the order of dismissal meant that no charges are pending.
"It's a matter of semantics," he said.
Silverton, 68, was disbarred in 1975 after the Court of Appeal affirmed his felony convictions in connection with insurance fraud. He was reinstated in 1992, but was soon faced with new charges.
Charges were filed in September 1993 in connection with a settlement reached after Silverton's client had died. Those charges were dismissed one year later for lack of evidence.
The latest charges were filed April, 1997. Originally, there were five counts of professional misconduct, but two of them were dismissed by the court before trial.
The dismissed counts related to a retainer agreement which, it was alleged, was unfair to the client and contemplated an unconscionable fee.
After evidence was received at trial, State Bar Court Judge Eugene E. Brott ordered the three remaining counts dismissed with prejudice. The charges were acquiring a pecuniary interest adverse to the client, entering into an agreement for an illegal or unconscionable fee, and committing an act entailing moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption.
The prosecution on those three charges stemmed from an agreement Silverton secured from clients after he became associated as counsel in a personal injury case. Under the agreement, Silverton was authorized to compromise any claim for medical fees, and could retain the difference between the amount of the doctor's bill and the actual payment. This was to be in addition to any sums he derived from the 40 percent contingency fee.
Brott ruled there was no culpability in connection with the transaction.
Silverton ran for the State Bar Board of Governors in 1996, losing to Pasadena attorney John J. Collins, and in 1997, when he was defeated by Deputy Attorney General Clara Slifkin. His platform each time was a pledge to seek the termination of the State Bar's disciplinary function.
The lawyer yesterday contended that the disciplinary charges were a form of retaliation against him by the State Bar.
"The reason they went after me, in my opinion, is because I went out after them," he asserted.
The case was brought to trial, he said, "because it was me" who was involved.
Silverton is vying for an open seat in the March 7 primary with Municipal Court Commissioners John Ladner and John A. Slawson, Deputy District Attorneys David M. Mintz and David W. Stuart, and private practitioner Vicki M. Roberts.
Copyright Metropolitan News Company, 2000