Chief Trial Counsel Scott J. Drexel's removal has so demoralized the California State Bar bureaucracy that its trial counsel have succumbed to temptation to do the unthinkable: debate a former respondent. The discussion was at Crime and Federalism, a proprosecutorial blog, which bemoaned Drexel's firing. To start toward the end with comments by a current state-bar respondent, an elderly and disabled attorney, who describes his ordeal before the State Bar:
Unless you have experienced the tactics used by the State Bar, you cannot appreciate the Mike Nifong mentality that permeates the process from start to finish. I know enough from experience the Drexel marching order is a "take no prisoners" operation that justifies its inquisition by parroting "We're protecting the public." Anybody critical of Scott Drexel must be opposed to protecting the public. Right? Drexel's M.O. has been to squander millions in building an empire devoted to destroying the sole practitioner, preferably elderly and disabled,while the big firm lawyers only find their licenses lifted due to federal court convictions. Do not believe the State Bar prosecution press releases as they are strictly public relation promotions like the above.
Attorney William Wells later added:
Further to the Scott Drexel playbook. During a continued trial I sufferred multiple fractures from a fall that required surgical repairs, hospitalization and bed confinement so I obtained a Declaration from a physician aware of these facts and filed it with a motion to continue in the routine manner in such events. Unknown to me, the Deputy trial counsel Erin M. Joyce secretly issued a subpoena for the personal appearance in court of my physcian over a two week span and caused a week of stalking, trespassing and harassment by a State Bar Investigator of my physcian at his home, office and hospital. Despite no personal service, Erin Joyce, trial counsel, caused to be prepared a false Declaration of personal service that only surfaced when a Motion to Quash was filed by my physcian and disclosed that the Declaration of Service was on its face totally illegal. The court agreed and granted the Motion to Quash but no sanctions or attorney fees and no redress by a tort action for abuse of process. If I need a Declaration from my physcian what would be your response? and his response? Who could blame him? This is an example of Nifong-Drexel protecting the public. [My emphasis, for legal significance.]
My only disagreement with poster William Wells is: "Unless you have experienced the tactics used by the State Bar, you cannot appreciate the Mike Nifong mentality that permeates the process from start to finish." To the contrary, I think readers can appreciate the thuggish mentality of the State Bar simply by reading its contributions to the discussion. The State Bar communicates with telltale signature rhetoric, immediately conveying how it views its function.
The first commenter was a former State Bar prosecutor who recycles his public relations blurb for Drexel. His boilerplate included this observation: "Not one of the cases I brought to trial resulted in a finding of no culpability." This half-truth is the standard argument for Drexel's project of public posting from a case's inception, and I pointed out that the relevant statistic — even if you trust the Bar Court to provide the criterion — is the percentage of charges dismissed with prejudice, since public posting accuses the attorney of the full set of charges. The Bar Court dismisses the majority of charges!
Normally, the State Bar wouldn't compromise its arrogance or risk exposing its bad motives and poor competence by intervening in a public discussion. The State Bar is so unused to contention that it can't state a rational argument. Instead of dealing with my point about the dismissal with prejudice of most charges, never answered, the at-the-time-anonymous poster referred readers to my State Bar member record; nothing more except to put "position" when referring to "Mr. Diamond's position" in scare quotes.
Back to my quibble with William Wells concerning the need for first-hand experience to appreciate the State Bar's oppressiveness. From the ad hominem method of obfuscation alone, one could already surmise much. The signature use of scare quotes in place of arguments sufficed to categorize the poster as a bar prosecutor. When he replied to my response, which pointed out his refusal to identify himself while attacking me personally, he compromised and signed with his first name, "Patrick": my old friend Supervising Trial Counsel Patrick O'Brien. O'Brien was in charge of my case at the beginning. After he made some intemperate remarks, such as alerting me that he would report my refusal to comment orally as an admission, he transferred the case to our prosecutrix, Melanie J. Lawrence. Apparently the bar thought the case needed a "woman's" touch. [Scare-quote irony intended.]
Apart from these hints to William Wells and others on how to detect oppression at a glance, I want to deal with one other question the Crime & Federalism article raises concerning the Drexel removal: Drexel's prosecution of several San Diego deputy district attorneys. District attorneys usually avoid any bar investigation, but the reason isn't that the bar is reluctant to prosecute district attorneys. The judges, through California's Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, are the only sufficiently centralized authority capable of exerting major power over bar affairs, and district attorneys' withholding evidence doesn't please Chief Justice George. The reason that the State Bar emphasizes civil attorneys is financial. The State Bar zealously enforces attorney trust accounts because the State Bar is the their hidden beneficiary: it receives the interest on most accounts, and the State Bar's authority to disburse these funds augments its power; any trust account violation, any instance of commingling in regular accounts, takes money at the State Bar's disposal. While the client suffers delay following misappropriation, the State Bar is the loser. Misappropriation and comingling are the State Bar staples and the trust accounts the glaring conflict of interest, but, recently, court-order violations have been prominent. To understand the change, more important than the rise and fall of Chief Trial Counsel Drexel in the California bar is the rise of Chief Justice George in the California courts.
The problem with the district-attorney prosecutions isn't inherent wrongfulness. Despite the hypocrisy of the State Bar's prosecuting other prosecutors for withholding exculpatory evidence, district attorneys who withhold evidence and who violate court orders by lying deserve disbarment — harsher discipline than imposed. The problem is the tardiness of these prosecutions, taking place under the State Bar's unlimited statute of limitations for cases the Bar claims to initiate. The lateness shows the prosecutions were at the behest of judges who continued to be dissatisfied with these officers of the court after the ordinary statute of limitations expired. The state-bar-establishment's loyalist defense wing, not the DAs, made the effective response to the district-attorney prosecutions — confirmed by the direction of a phone call preceding the ouster: district attorney to influential bar-defense-counsel Margolis.