CBJ - March 2009 #03. State Bar discipline unit scores three wins on the same day.

Author:By Nancy McCarthy

California Bar Journal


CBJ - March 2009 #03.

State Bar discipline unit scores three wins on the same day

California Bar Journal March 2009 State Bar discipline unit scores three wins on the same dayBy Nancy McCarthyStaff WriterThe State Bar's disciplinary unit had a busy day Feb. 11: * The Supreme Court ordered the disbarment of Beverly Hills attorney Richard Isaac Fine, who called himself the "Don Quixote of the Law." * In a high-profile case, a State Bar Court judge recommended a four-year suspension of a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney. * Working with the Orange County district attorney, the bar shut down three offices operated by a southern California lawyer who has been hospitalized since January, leaving more than 2,000 cases unattended.

"It's rare that we get three such significant orders on the same day," said Chief Trial Counsel Scott Drexel. "The orders were all, for different reasons, very important public protection and administration of justice achievements for the State Bar and the citizens of California."

Fine, 69, had appealed a recommendation by the bar court's review department that he be disbarred; a hearing judge also recommended disbarment. The Supreme Court denied his petition for review.

The bar court found that, beginning in 1999, Fine engaged in a pattern of filing challenges against judges who ruled against him, other judges in the same court system, even court clerks. In proceedings before the bar, he filed 29 motions to disqualify hearing and review judges. His complaints ranged from denial of due process to charges that a commissioner used settlement funds to pursue a vendetta against him.

The review department found that he committed numerous acts of moral turpitude in five matters.

Fine's problems stemmed from a 1996 class action lawsuit in Los Angeles in which he represented a majority of the plaintiffs. After the commissioner in the case ruled against Fine on a request for attorney fees, he "began a pattern of deliberately misusing the process for challenging a judicial authority," wrote State Bar Court Review Judge JoAnn Remke. "Even after respondent was repeatedly warned and sanctioned for his abusive behavior in state court, respondent continued his tactics in the federal courts where he repeatedly filed meritless lawsuits against judicial officers."

In the class...

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