Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Interlude 16. The Ronald N. Gottschalk Matter: State Bar Incompetence or Collusion

In the 2nd Installment I opined that the State Bar's incompetence overshadowed even its malice:
These Installments cannot directly prove the State Bar's penchant for unjust prosecution, even in a single case. They do not target injustice as such because, in truth, injustice is not the basic problem. From what I have learned through dealing with the State Bar, failure to prosecute and insufficiency of charges are as likely as overzealousness to define the State Bar's performance. These Installments should not convince readers that State Bar biases produce harsh outcomes but rather that the incompetence of the State Bar is so extreme that the Bar machinery will necessarily produce the wrong outcome. Incompetence more than overzealousness is the defining trait of the California State Bar, and such incompetence benefits no one except the guiltiest.
kanBARoo court focuses on wrongful prosecution rather failure to prosecute. We shouldn't encourage the State Bar in any prosecutions because its integrity and competence can't be vouchsafed, and even the most culpable deserve better; but perspective requires recognizing the laxity interpenetrating harshness in a broad picture of incompetence. A particularly troubling laxity ramification is the possibility that the State Bar will delay prosecution of some of the most corrupt attorneys as remuneration for informing on other respondents.

Case in point the Ronald Norton Gottschalk case. In Interlude 8 I warned the public about this attorney, whom I termed a "legal predator," and I also noted that he eagerly played State Bar stooge when he threatened kanBARoo court with a RICO suit. Gottschalk was recently arrested on embezzlement charges. While his guilt remains for proof in court, the standard of proof for enrolling an attorney inactive (an administrative suspension to avert harm to the public) is far lower than proof, and the Bar is avid in its routine imposition of these suspensions for mere procedural reasons. Yet the November 2009 California Bar Journal ( contains this amazing statement, following Gottschalk's arrest, from Gottschalk's State Bar prosecutor, Paul O'Brien:
We believe public protection demands that Gottschalk be enrolled "not entitled to practice" at the earliest possible moment.
O'Brien went on to praise Investigator John Noonen for his "dogged pursuit of the case."

These  incompetent, self-congratulatory State Bar prosecutors and cops remind of nothing more than former President Bush when he commented on the "heck of a job" his staff had performed after Hurricane Katrina. The DA has charged Gottschalk with hard embezzlement of more than $350,000. Since the standard of proof for involuntary enrollment inactive is far too low, even a State Bar prosecutor could marshal the incriminating facts:
The board may order the involuntary inactive enrollment of at attorney upon a finding that the attorney's conduct poses a substantial threat of harm to the interests of the attorney's clients or to the public. (Bus. & Prof. Code § 6007, subd. (c)(1).)
The standard of proof is simple preponderance of evidence to establish past wrongdoing and, effectively, a beyond-reasonable-doubt standard for the attorney to rebut the presumption that wrongdoing will continue:
Where the evidence establishes a pattern of behavior, including acts likely to cause substantial harm, the burden of proof shall shift to the attorney to show that there is no reasonable likelihood that the harm will reoccur or continue. (Bus. & Prof. Code § 6007, subd. (c)(2)(B).)
The State Bar allowed Gottschalk to practice until his year-later arrest, an outcome bespeaking the State Bar's incompetence or collusion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The State Bar abated Attorney Gottschalk's State Bar case, according to the State Bar Court's website. It also doesn't seem right for the State Bar to suspend a lawyer just because he was charged with a crime, even embezzlement. There must be proof a crime existed. A search of the litigation index shows that Gottschalk is engaged in civil litigation with some of the same people who have charged him with embezzlement. The Odd thing about one of those cases is that the money Gottschalk is criminally accused of taking is the subject of a court battle where Gottschalk doesn't have the money, but a third party has the funds alleged to have been stolen. Can you Mr. Diamond check those facts for your website? I believe the Action is in San Diego Superior Court.