California Ethics News - California Case Law
California Case Law - The FindLaw California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Ethics Category

November might not be the best month for the State Bar of California. If bar exam results go the same as every other state, we'll find out later this month that the July administration had the fewest passers in at least 10 years.

The good news for Joseph Dunn is that won't be his problem anymore. Dunn was abruptly fired from his job as executive director of the State Bar on November 7. Last week, we found out why, and the allegations are juicy and salacious.

Yes, judges behave badly, too. But when they behave badly, it makes lawyers and courts look bad.

This week, the Commission on Judicial Performance issued a pair of sanctions to two different superior court judges who both engaged in some inappropriate conduct in camera.

What do you think when a defendant claims that the cops planted evidence, that he or she was framed.

Bull crap, right? We know, like Shawshank, everyone's innocent. And seriously, why would cops risk their careers and livelihood to put some low-level junkie in jail on an "under the influence" charge. Except they did, according to Allison Ross in her civil suit. And they were caught on tape.

The worst part is, even with the transcripts from the tape, her story still seems incredible.

Every lawyer at some point or another is going to have a client that can't pay. If it hasn't happened to you yet, then consider yourself lucky.

It may happen that they come to you and there is just no way they can afford a private attorney. Or, they may have engaged you, and then discovered that they can't make the bill. Either way, we have resources you can turn to and a few ideas that might help.

A mayor sends an email to a state senator through his official government email account. The California Public Records Act applies, and this email is subject to public disclosure.

A mayor sends an email via a free webmail service, such as Gmail, to that same senator, and per this court decision, it is not subject to public disclosure.

Note to Leland Yee: sign up for Gmail.

Brady violations. Massiah mishaps. Perjury. And snitches. Nobody likes snitches.

Except the Orange County District Attorney's Office. Actually, we'd venture a guess that all D.A.'s offices like snitches, since they make prosecutors' jobs easier. But the utility of a snitch is limited by Massiah, which prohibits the government from eliciting incriminating statements from a defendant after the right to counsel attaches.

And if the Orange County Public Defender's Office's motions are to be believed, that's exactly what the D.A's office was doing -- sending snitches to buddy-up to post-arraignment defendants who were in custody awaiting trial.

In a narrative nearly as compelling as those penned by Stephen Glass himself, the California Supreme Court just eviscerated the author of largely fictionalized magazine articles that were initially presented as fact-based journalism. He now seeks bar admission.

Will the journalist-turned law graduate ever gain admission to the bar? And has he really changed?

Imagine being so infamous that a Hollywood movie was made about your misdeeds? Well, Stephen Glass doesn't have to imagine that -- he lived it. Now, he's trying start over in a new career and to gain membership to the California Bar.

But the path for the putative lawyer ahead is anything but clear as ... no, we won't do it. Let's just say it's not looking very promising.

Judge Derek Johnson Admonished for 2008 Rape Comments

Dumb comments about rape have been hot news this year.

Two of the biggest news stories leading up to the November elections involved U.S. Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock making ill-informed, ill-advised statements about rape. Both men lost their elections, NBCNews reports.

Thursday, another dumb rape comment began making the rounds on the Internet. This one was from Orange County Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson. But he actually made the statement four years ago.

Lying to Get Extra Time on the Bar is a Bad Idea

Bar exam applicants who have disabilities can request special accommodations during the exam. Depending on the nature of the disability, "accommodations may include such things as assistants (i.e., readers or personal healthcare assistants), wheelchair access, permission to dictate to a typist or tape recorder, customized timing, separate testing room, customized examination materials (i.e., Braille, large print, etc.), extended testing days and permission to bring and use specific items or medical aids.

It's not a perfect system. You could fake a disability for the extra time on the test. You may even get away with it.

But if you get caught, you'll lose your license.