A report on where

Assistant District Attorney Diana Teran Is Charged With 11 Counts, Is Arrested, Booked John C. Eastman Challenges His Proposed Disbarment; Matter Goes to State Bar Review Department… Judge Cormac J. Carney to Retire as District Court Judge

Judges, Lawyers Under Scrutiny

John Eastman
Attorney, Ex-Trump Advisor

The State Bar Court’s Hearing Department on Friday forwarded to the Review Department the matter of John C. Eastman’s status as an attorney, following Judge Yvette Roland’s March 27 recommendation in a 128-page decision that the former Chapman University School of Law dean be disbarred based on statements he made in the course of representing then-President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.

Roland did not act on Eastman’s April 3 request that the order transferring him to involuntary inactive status be stayed. His attorneys argued:

“If the Order placing Dr. Eastman on inactive enrollment is not stayed, not only would it be highly prejudicial to Dr. Eastman, it would also be highly prejudicial to his clients…..If the Order placing Dr. Eastman on inactive enrollment were not stayed, those clients would be harmed by depriving them of the breadth and depth of Dr. Eastman's knowledge and prowess as a zealous advocate.”

They added:

“Further, if the Order placing Dr. Eastman on inactive enrollment were not stayed, Dr. Eastman would lose his ability to make a living as an attorney at a time when other matters arising out of his representation of the former President of the United States, including an unprecedented criminal racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations action in Fulton County, Georgia, have already caused him to incur more than $I million in legal fees, with estimates that he will incur as much as $3 million or more before the matters have run their course, even if (as he strongly contends should be the case) he is fully exonerated.”

The Office of Chief Trial Counsel responded on April 10 that under the rules, placement on inactive status is mandatory.

Eastman made his request for review on April 25.

The disciplinary case against him raised the question as to whether a California lawyer can be disbarred based on having put forth an unsupported legal theory, prompting action by others in reliance on his counseling. Allegations against Eastman are centered on his participation in an effort to block Joseph Biden from taking office as president of the United States through pronouncements at the “Save America Rally” on Jan. 6, 2021, in the District of Columbia, of election fraud that purportedly deprived President Donald Trump of reelection.

Rejecting Eastman’s First Amendment defense, Roland said:

“[A]ttorneys have a First Amendment right to make statements in public in the course of their professional duties. However, this right does not extend to making knowing or reckless false statements of fact or law. Here…, Eastman made multiple false and misleading statements in his professional capacity as attorney for President Trump in court filings and other written statements, as well as in conversations with others and in public remarks….Eastman knowingly made these false statements or had no reasonable factual or legal basis for making them. Hence, Eastman’s First Amendment defense fails.”

Thomas V. Girardi
Criminal defendant, former lawyer (disbarred)

Thomas V. Girardi

U.S. District Court Judge Josephine L. Staton of the Central District of California on March 25 delayed the trial of ex-lawyer Thomas Vincent Girardi, who is facing five counts of wire fraud, from May 21 to Aug. 6, finding that a stipulation entered into by the prosecution and the defense “demonstrates facts that support a continuance.”

She further found that “the ends of justice served by the continuance outweigh the best interest of the public and defendant in a speedy trial….failure to grant the continuance would be likely to make a continuation of the proceeding impossible, or result in a miscarriage of justice…and…failure to grant the continuance would unreasonably deny defendant continuity of counsel and would deny defense counsel the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence.”

The continuance also applies to co-defendant Christopher K. Kamon who was head of accounting and finance at Girardi’s now defunct law firm, Girardi|Keese.

The stipulation recites that “based on counsel for defendant Girardi’s representations that they would be unable to effectively represent their client without access to and additional time to review” certain “materials” and the “further agreement that defendants will not seek further continuances of the trial date, and that no further continuance should be granted, absent good cause and the existence of new information not known as of the date of this stipulation, the government joins in this stipulation.”

It adds:

“Counsel for defendant Girardi also represents that they are seeking a continuance for the purpose of preparing for trial, not as additional time to reinitiate competency proceedings.”

Staton has found Girardi competent to stand trial, rejecting his contention that he lacks competency owing to affliction with Alzheimer's disease.

Once a monied and highly influential lawyer, Girardi, 84, is now disgraced, disbarred, and impecunious. A former superstar among California’s personal injury attorneys, Girardi resided in a Pasadena mansion with his trophy wife, singer/TV personality Erika Jayne—who, although she filed for a dissolution of marriage, has said she won’t follow through with the divorce because she could wind up having to pay Girardi spousal support.

Girardi also faces felony charges in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The indictment in Illinois stemmed from the former lawyer purportedly pocketing about $3 million that was due family members of persons who were in the Lion Air Flight 610 crash in Indonesia on Oct. 29, 2018, killing all 189 who were aboard.

Boeing had manufactured the aircraft, and agreed to pay $500 million to family members.

Also indicted there were Los Angeles attorney David Lira, Girardi’s son-in-law, and Kamon. The three face eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of criminal contempt of court.

Over the decades, complaints by clients to the State Bar of his perfidy, many complaints, went unheeded. Girardi had connections at the State Bar—which included a then-investigator there, Tom Layton, who acted as his boy-Friday .

Max Huntsman
Los Angeles County Inspecter General

Thomas V. Girardi

It has been more than a year-and-a-half since state Attorney General Rob Bonta announced in a Sept. 20, 2022 press release that the Department of Justice will look into “whether any individuals committed a crime by allegedly giving advance warning” to then- Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and another who were subjects of a search warrant. The person who allegedly provided the tip-off is Max Huntsman, the county’s “inspector general,” hired to unveil official misconduct and, as some see it, has engaged in misconduct, himself.

There have been no public progress reports. It appears the matter is destined to linger and die.
That’s what happened in connection with Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office chief of staff, Joseph Iniguez. He was arrested on Dec. 11, 2021, and booked on suspicion of public intoxication; the Office of Attorney General took the case because the District Attorney's Office had a conflict; it took no action and, after one year, the time for filing charges expired.

Kuehl’s home was searched based on a suspicion that she had assisted a non-profit organization, run by a friend of hers, in obtaining a no-bid county contract contrary to the county’s interests.

Appearances are that Huntsman, a former deputy district attorney, interfered with a law enforcement investigation into possible political corruption by causing Kuehl, indirectly, to be alerted to an impending exploration of her home by sheriff’s deputies, affording her an opportunity to hide or destroy potentially incriminating evidence. Huntsman is mum.

The facts that emerge are that on the morning of the raid by sheriff’s deputies on her Santa Monica home on Sept. 14, 2022, Kuehl told reporters:

“I heard from county counsel last night that she got a tip from Max that this search would happen this morning.”

KFI newsman Steve Gregory reported that at 11:41 p.m. on the day preceding the raid, Acting County Counsel Dawn Harrison texted Kuehl:
“This was the first my team had heard of it. Max called CoCo tonight with his ‘intel.’ Just wanted to make sure you were aware. Should anything come of this in the morning, Cheryl O’Connor is on standby. If you need her, she will be there.”

“CoCo,” Gregory said, stands for “county counsel” and O’Connor is Kuehl’s attorney.

Huntsman has also come under criticism for causing the downloading confidential personnel records of the Sherriff’s Department, which also appears to be a dead issue.

Brian Kabatech, Mark Gerogos

Thomas V. Girardi Thomas V. Girardi

A year-and-a-half has also passed in a matter in which the State Bar took a publicized action—possibly for the sake of publicity—against former Bar Association President Brian Kabateck and criminal defense lawyer Mark Geragos.

Under fire for its dereliction in failing to act on complaints about Thomas V. Girardi (now disbarred) until his dishonesty became manifest and widely reported by the news media, it announced it is investigating the two celebrity lawyers. The move could backfire if the two are exonerated for a fourth time—or what would possibly be a fifth time as to Geragos.

Kabateck has attained multi-million dollar judgments and settlements; Geragos is a criminal defense lawyer whose clients have included Whitewater defendant Susan McDougal, former Rep. Gary Condit, actress Winona Ryder, and entertainer Michael Jackson.

In a Sept. 27, 2022 press release, the State Bar said the two are being investigated “in connection with the Armenian Genocide insurance settlement funds from which dispersals were made in the U.S. and France.”

Kabateck and Geragos obtained a settlement of $37.5 million in separate actions against two insurers who failed to pay claims under life insurance policies issued to persons who were slain in the Armenian genocide. Major attention has been focused in recent Los Angeles Times articles on what happened to proceeds from a $17.5 million settlement with a French insurer in 2005.

Questions have been raised as to whether the two lawyers pocketed any of the funds. While moneys are missing, the lawyers point out they had nothing to do with the distribution of the proceeds.

They were previously cleared of wrongdoing in at least three State Bar probes and one by independent investigators.

The State Bar’s press release quotes then-Board of Trustees Chair Ruben Duran as saying:
“The State Bar is charged with protecting the public. Confidence in our ability to do so has unfortunately been shaken in recent times by the Girardi matter and what it represents. Restoring and maintaining the public’s trust in the disciplinary apparatus of this agency is imperative.”

Geragos—who has said he will be suing the State Bar—remarked that Duran’s mention of Girardi shows that “all they’re trying to do is deflect” attention from the debacle in responding to complaints about Girardi.

Kabateck asserted:

“This is a political stunt by the State Bar.”

Lending credence to that assessment is that no proceedings have been instituted against either lawyer.

Geragos on July 27 told the METNEWS:

“The State Bar announcement was provoked by malicious, reckless defamatory reporting by the L.A. Times which is why I’m currently suing the Times and reporters Harriet Ryan and Matt Ryan. Their wild unfounded and demonstrably false allegations were nothing more than an attempt to try to taint Brian and my career achievements for the Armenian community.

“Almost 20 years ago, a respected federal judge and three separate investigations not only proved that there were no questions about either of us and instead lauded our cooperation. The story by the L.A. Times attempted to rewrite history and the two reporters were clueless about class action litigation. Neither Brian or I had any involvement in the claims process and had no ability to approve or reject claims. The truth was that we actually uncovered the wrongdoing, recovered all the money and turned in the culprits.” 

A spokesperson for the Times responded on July 28:

“The State Bar is an independent agency and makes its own decisions about what and whom it investigates. The Los Angeles Times article about the difficulties that Armenian people encountered when trying to access settlement money related to the Armenian genocide reported on matters of substantial public interest, and we encourage people to read the reporting for themselves (https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-03-23/fraud-los-angeles-cheated-armenian-genocide-victims). The Times and its journalists are vigorously defending against Mr. Geragos’ baseless lawsuit; at a hearing on June 22, a Superior Court judge tentatively found that it should be dismissed, and we are awaiting her final ruling on our SLAPP motion.”

In the tentative ruling, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Wendy Chang found that the Times merely quoted allegations by others and did not, itself, accuse Geragos of wrongdoing. She later adopted the tentative decision as the ruling, and Geragos said on Aug. 9:

“This case was always going to end up in the Court of Appeal either way. The ruling is respectfully not only wrong on the facts but also on the law.”

Diana Teran
Assistant District Attorney

Los Angeles Assistant District Attorney Diana Teran, a key aide to District Attorney George Gascón, has been charged by the Office of Attorney General with 11 counts of unlawfully accessing and, in her prosecutorial role, making use of confidential electronic personnel files on deputy sheriffs. She was arrested and booked on Saturday.

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys has posted an article on its website by Deputy District Attorney Ryan Erlich in which questions are posed. He said of the Teran matter:

“Her case is in its nascent stages. But it is not too early to ask Gascon and his inner circle some key questions, beginning with ‘what  did the District Attorney know and when did he know it?’

“George Gascon claimed in an office-wide email that he learned about the Attorney General's filing when many of us did: "late" on  Wednesday afternoon. But did Gascon know about the investigation before then? If so, when? Did he know that the AG was  investigating Teran when he promoted her to Assistant District Attorney of Ethics & Integrity in December 2023? Did anyone else in  the ‘executive team’ know she was under investigation? As an investigative ‘target,’ did Teran retain counsel? Did her attorney-client  relationship with that retained counsel affect any case under her supervision?

“Before she was charged with 11 felonies, Teran supervised 20 or more special units, including Conviction Review, Resentencing,  PID, JSID, Appellate, and Organized Crime. These units handle some of the office's most politically charged cases. Now that Teran is  facing prison time, what steps has or will the District Attorney take to ensure that her alleged wrongdoing did not infect more matters  than those referenced in the AG's complaint? Will there be a top-to-bottom review of her work? Will that review be internal or  external? Who will run it?

“A recent office memo (GOM 24-043) suggested that Teran has been moved out of management. Is that a temporary or permanent  move? Is Teran still an active employee of the District Attorney's Office? Did she resign? Was she asked to do so? Was she escorted  from the office? Does she still have access to sensitive material or office resources? Is she on administrative leave? Can she still  practice law? Is she still drawing some or all the $363,000 in pay and benefits that she earned in 2022? And who is going to pay to  ‘defend’ her?”

Steven Wilson
U.S. District Court Judge

On Nov. 17, 2021, alleged misconduct of an extreme nature on the part of U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson of the Central District of California took place. The allegation, a credible one, was revealed by MetNews on Jan. 26 of last year and brought to the attention of Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Mary Murguia. It appears that no action has been taken, indicating possible, if not probable, dereliction on the part of Murguia.

It is asserted, under oath, by Westlake Village attorney Marina Lang that when she got into a squabble with Wilson over his rulings, she was not merely ordered out of his courtroom but was handcuffed and manacled, forced to hobble in the courthouse hallway before onlookers, booked, and was, for hours, chained to a chair in a cold and smelly basement cell, immobilized, unable even to scratch her nose.

Actions toward her were consequent to an express order by Wilson, though the extent of his knowledge as to the precise treatment of Lang has yet to be established—and inaction to date suggests that it won’t be.

The record does show that after Wilson expressed, with the jury not present, disgruntlement over her conduct in the closing phases of a trial in a trademark dispute, and Lang indicated like displeasure with his behavior, the judge declared:

“You are in contempt,” and asked:
“Is the Marshal there?”

A deputy marshal was present. Wilson then commanded:

“Take Ms. Lang in custody. She’s in contempt of court.”

The order was treated by deputies as an adjudication of a criminal contempt. Lang was purportedly told by deputies, when she protested the metal restraints, that they were doing what the judge wanted. Later, back in the courtroom, Wilson related to Lang’s co-counsel, who had continued representing the client, and to opposing counsel, that Lang was in a “holding area” and advised: “I’m going to order her released.”

She was eventually freed that night after court hours, according to her declaration, with her car locked in a parking lot.

The facts and the allegations are not alluded to in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’s Jan. 24 memorandum opinion affirming a civil contempt fine of $3,510 imposed by Wilson on Lang, and would seem to be irrelevant to the issue before that court. Wilson imposed the fine, to be payable to the other side, and the opinion says in Footnote 1:
“Lang acknowledges that she lacks an appellate remedy for her period of temporary confinement and does not appeal it, so we express no views on that issue.”

She had appealed from the Jan. 26, 2022 civil contempt fine but not from the Nov. 17, 2021 order finding her in contempt and ordering that she be taken into custody.

A Feb. 1, 2022 MetNews editorial is titled, “Was a Lawyer Subjected to Barbaric Abuse at a Federal Courthouse?,” with a subtitle, “Allegations of Official Misconduct Must Be Probed.” It urges that Murguia, acting pursuant to 28 U.S. Code §351, look into Lang’s allegations and, if they withstand initial scrutiny, that the matter be referred, in accordance with §352, to the Ninth Circuit’s Judicial Council, or that a special committee be appointed to investigate under §353. It also calls for E. Martin Estrada, the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, and the federal Grand Jury to probe the deputies’ actions.

“Facts must be uncovered, with relevant facts not overlooked or whitewashed,” the editorial asserts, adding:

“A failure on the part of federal authorities to ascertain what occurred on Nov. 17, 2021, would constitute dereliction, and a failure to impose consequences, and severe ones, if Lang was indeed caused the physical pain and dehumanization she describes would be unpardonable.”

It labels Wilson “one slippery hombre” by contending, in his 2022 order finding Lang in civil contempt, that he had not really found her in criminal contempt in 2021 because he had not adhered to the procedures dictated by Rule 42 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The editorial remarks:

“Oh? A judge has not, in fact, taken an action, though pronounced by the judge, if that action is not authorized by law? Poppycock.”


Although Murguia has taken no action with regard to possible misconduct on the part of Wilson—pointing to apparent dereliction on her part—the Ninth Circuit announced in a Feb. 28, 2023 news release that allegations of misconduct on the part of District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez of the Southern District of California, based on the momentary handcuffing of a 13-year-old girl (as opposed to the alleged hours-long shackling of Lang) are under investigation. Murguia said in an accompanying order that “this order and the fact that I identified a complaint against Judge Benitez are publicly disclosed in order to ‘maintain public confidence in the Judiciary’s ability to redress misconduct or disability.’ ”

The incident concerning Benitez was recounted in a Feb. 23, 2023 sentencing memo prepared by attorney Mayra Lopez of Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. in connection with a parole violation by a client of hers who had committed drug offenses. At a hearing, the man, Mario Puente, expressed concern that his daughter was keeping bad company which could “lead her into the same path I went down.”

The memo says:

“Several minutes later, Judge Benitez asked a U.S. Marshal, ‘You got cuffs?’ The Marshal confirmed he did. Judge Benitez then ordered the 13-year-old girl to leave the spectator area, approach the front of the courtroom, and stand next to her father’s lawyer. He told the Marshal to ‘[p]ut cuffs on her.’ The Marshal did so, cuffing the girl’s hands behind her back. As he did so, she was crying. Judge Benitez then instructed the Marshal to ‘put’ her over there in the jury box for me for just a minute.’ The Marshal complied, placing the girl in the jury box in handcuffs. She continued to cry.

“After a long pause, Judge Benitez released the girl. But he did not allow her to immediately return to her seat. Instead he told her, ‘don’t go away. Look at me.’ He asked her how she liked ‘sitting up there’ and ‘the way those cuffs felt on you.’ Still in tears, she responded that she ‘didn’t like it.’ He told her she was ‘an awfully cute young lady’ but that if she didn’t stay away from drugs, she would ‘wind up in cuffs’ and be ‘right back there where I put you a minute ago.’”

Disciplined attorneys

Ernest Joseph Franceschi Jr. (#112893) of Santa Monica: two years probation, with nine months of suspension for a criminal conviction for tax evasion and other violations. Effective April 13.


Michael Lee Lindley (#289229) of Long Beach: one year probation, 30 days actual suspension for criminal conviction for misdemeanor drunk driving. Effective April 13.

Judiciary: Vacancies, Appointments

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

There are no vacancies.

There is one vacancy and there are three coming up. Newly announced is that Judge Cormac J. Carney will retire on May 31.

Judge George H. Wu assumed senior status on Nov. 3. A successor has not been nominated.

Judge Dale S. Fischer is slated to assume senior status on May 1 and Judge Philip S. Gutierrez has announced he will do so on Oct. 15.

There are no vacancies.

Second District

Presiding Judge Laurence D. Rubin of Div. Five retired on Feb. 29.

Presiding Justice Dennis Perluss of Div. Seven has retired and Justice Gonzalo Martinez of that division was nominated last month to replace him. Martinez is a relative newcomer to the court having taken office as an associate justice last July 10.

Newsom has indicated an intent to nominate Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Natalie P. Stone to fill the associate justice vacancy upon Martinez’s expected conformation as presiding justice.

Serving as justices pro tem are San Bernardino Superior Court Judges Corey G. Lee (until June 15) and Tony Raphael (until June 14).

Los Angeles County

In November run-offs are Deputy Public Defender George A. Turner Jr. and private practitioner Steve Napolitano; Deputy District Attorney Sharon Ransom and private criminal defense attorney La Shae Henderson (running as a “Deputy Public Defender”); Deputy Public Defender Ericka J. Wiley and Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose; Deputy District Attorneys Georgia Huerta and Steven Yee Mac; and Deputy County Counsel Tracey M. Blount and Texas A&M Law School Associate Dean Luz E. Herrera.  




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