The California State Bar Court’s decision to drop disciplinary charges against former Bar Association CEO Joe Dunn was justified by statute of limitations, according to an appeals panel held Friday.
The State Bar Association’s Court Review Department, which serves as the appeal panel, rejected the arguments of the deputy special trial attorney (outside attorneys the bar association retains when there are disputes) and found no abuse of discretion or error of right in the fact that a trial judge dismissed some of the charges that the bar association brought against Dunn.
The disciplinary complaints allege that Dunn misled the Board of Directors about who paid for his trip to Mongolia and about opposition to pending legislation. The bar association argued that the clock started when arbitration over Dunn’s 2014 firing was completed in 2017. Dunn, a former state legislator, sued the bar association in 2014 weeks after he was fired. The disciplinary charges were filed in July 2022.
The Board of Trustees, “as the governing body of the State Bar Association, concluded no later than November 2014 that Dunn had not been candid with them” and that “the five-year statute of limitations applies here,” the board said. review judge Tamara M. Ribas wrote. Ribas was accompanied by the judge W. Kearse McGill.
Dissenting, Chief Justice Richard Honn said the then-lead trial attorney who reported concerns about Dunn’s actions could not be considered a whistleblower under bar association rules, so the five-year statute should not apply.
Dunn’s co-counsel, Mark Geragos, said in an email that “our hope is that now the State Bar Association realizes that this matter was manipulated” and that the “existential problems of the State Bar Association current eclipse the old grudges against its former CEO from a decade ago. .” The California Bar Association is dealing with the fallout from revelations that it failed to penalize plaintiffs’ attorney Thomas Girardi, who was disbarred after stealing from clients.
Moral turpitude claims are still pending over allegedly false comments Dunn made to the board that no law school funds would be used to finance the January 2014 trip to Mongolia, which had sought California’s help for admission. of lawyers and disciplinary measures. Stacia Laguna, deputy special administrator for trial attorneys, said in an emailed statement that the remaining charges “are felonies, and we look forward to presenting our evidence and prosecuting the remaining charges at the appropriate time.”
Geragos & Geragos APC and Pansky Markle Attorneys at Law represent Dunn.
The case is In Re Joseph Dunn, Cal. State Bar, No. SBC-22-O-30655, order 5/26/23.