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The State Bar of California is admitting to “serious failures” within their governing system by overlooking hundreds of complaints filed against disbarred lawyer Tom Girardi.
“The handling of the Girardi matters brought to light serious failures in the State Bar’s attorney
discipline system, failures that have contributed to a lack of confidence in the State Bar’s ability
to carry out our core responsibility of protecting the public,” chairperson Ruben Duran wrote on behalf of the State Bar’s Board of Trustees in a letter obtained by Page Six on Thursday.
Duran continued that there’s no excuse for their handling of Girardi.
Alongside the letter, the State Bar of California released details about 205 complaints, stating that 120 related to client-trust account violations and the rest pertained to allegations ranging from failure to communicate with clients, failure to perform, misrepresentations to courts and clients, among other errors.
The agency also noted that three of those complaints were the ones that led to Girardi’s actual disbarment. He was suspended from practicing law in California in March 2021, but was officially disbarred in July 2022, per the State Bar of California’s online records.
“Before his disbarment, Girardi was never publicly disciplined by the State Bar,” Duran also admits in the letter. “Thirteen other matters were previously resolved through
non-public measures at the investigation, pre-filing, or post filing stages.”
The California State Bar claims to have taken measures to regain the public’s trust in how they discipline attorneys in their state and are continuing to delve into Girardi’s complaints.
In the letter, the agency notes they conducted an audit of the already-closed disciplinary matters involving Girardi and also launched a comprehensive investigation into those who worked alongside the disgraced lawyer to determine whether the State Bar’s mishandling of his complaints were due to his “connections.”
“Today’s disclosure is another step forward in advancing our commitment to protect the public with greater impact, transparency, and urgency,” Duran said. “The State Bar is committed to doing everything in our power to prevent something like this from happening again.”
The California State Bar’s candidness comes on the heels of a lawsuit the Los Angeles Times filed against the agency in order to have them be more transparent.
According to the newspaper, the State Bar of California “initially fought” them when they requested access to Girardi’s records in court but changed their minds just last month.
The LA Times’ attorney Kelli Sager said on Thursday via the publication that they will continue to press the California State Bar on more details about Girardi’s complaints because they found the records failed to include “any specifics — including the identities of the individuals at the State Bar who were responsible for handling them — or details about the complaints themselves.”
Sager added, “This information must be disclosed for the public to evaluate its performance and the steps needed to ensure that this kind of ‘serious failure’ does not happen again.”
Erika Jayne, seen here with husband Tom Girardi in 2016, filed for divorce in November 2020.
Steve Eichner/NameFace/Sipa USA
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