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No Moral Turpitude for Lawyer's Misdemeanor DUIs

Raj Tanden got some good news and some bad news from the California State Bar Court.

The good news was that the court's review panel found no moral turpitude for his misdemeanor DUI's. That was huge because moral turpitude can mean disbarment.

The bad news was that the court recommended he be suspended for a year, far more discipline than the disciplinary judge ordered. It just goes to show there's nothing good about driving under the influence or being in the crosshairs of the State Bar.

No Moral Turpitude

Tanden had three misdemeanor DUI convictions, two while he was an attorney. In one, he ran a stop sign and caused a head-on collision. In the other, he crashed into a parked car.

The disciplinary judge ordered a private reproval, but the bar prosecutor appealed and sought actual suspension. The trial counsel also wanted a finding of moral turpitude.

The review panel said a misdemeanor DUI conviction does not involve moral turpitude. Citing In re Lesansky, the panel said a crime of moral turpitude involves lack of "trustworthiness, honesty, fairness, candor," or a "serious breach of a duty," or a "flagrant disrespect for the law."

However, the appeals panel said Tanden had a "long history of alcohol and prescription drug abuse." He also violated his criminal probation.

One-Year Suspension

The panelists acknowledged that Tanden had sought treatment for his addictions, but said they had a role to protect the public. They recommended a one-year suspension, stayed on conditions of two years' probation.

Among other conditions, Tandem was ordered "not to drive any vehicle with any measurable amount of drugs or alcohol in his blood or refuse to take and complete any blood alcohol or drug chemical test" when required by any peace officer.

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