On April 30, 2020, The State Bar of California released the California attorney discipline report for 2019. The full report may be downloaded from their website. Each year, Zavieh Law is pleased to present our readers with some of the highlights from the report.
Highlights of the 2019 California Attorney Discipline Report
- The State Bar of California expanded its online complaint portal for witness use. It is also used for the submission of supporting documentation. Languages include English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, and Chinese.
- There was a 5% increase in complaints filed, with a total of more than 13,000 complaints. Including the backlog of cases, there were more than 16,000 California attorney discipline cases open at the end of 2019.
- Over 99% of active California attorneys were compliant with Rule 9.9.5, California Rule of Court which required attorneys to get re-fingerprinted.
- The State Bar of California developed a case prioritization system to identify and better focus their resources on the cases that the State Bar believes put the public most at risk. The report stated that this system helped resolve more cases.
- The backlog of cases decreased by 14%.
- The Office of the Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC) filed 619 cases with the State Bar Court to seek formal discipline.
- The State Bar received and imposed discipline in 532 cases.
- The Supreme Court disbarred 117 attorneys and suspended 137 attorneys.
- In 2019, 303 attorneys were disciplined, and 49 attorneys were reproved.
- More than half of 518 of the highest priority cases part of the backlog were suspended. Out of those suspensions, only 23 were eligible to practice law at the end of 2019.
- Non-attorney unauthorized practice of law (UPL) was up by 24% in 2019.
- 146 non-attorney immigration complains were filed with the State Bar.
- 427 immigration attorney complaints were filed with the State Bar.
- 37 immigration related complaints were filed against attorneys with the State Bar.
- There were 2270 complaints in the backlog: 116 were State Bar initiated inquiries, 32 were probation referrals, 44 were self-reported reportable actions, and 222 were reportable actions reported by others.
- 354 formal disciplinary filings occurred with 104 resulting in stipulations to facts and discipline and 159 criminal conviction transmittals.
- 216 disbarment cases were filed.
- 228 probations occurred with actual suspension.
- 33 probations occurred with stayed suspension.
- 31 public reprovals and 24 private reprovals.
- There were 9 petitions to terminate practice and 9 cases were filed with all 9 petitions granted.
- There were 21 interim suspension and restrictions and 13 cases were filed with petitions granted.
- There were no motions to revoke probation in 2019.
- There were 476warning letters sent to attorneys.
- There were 16 dispositions of felony convictions.
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