California-Bar-Association

By Jon Ortiz
jortiz@sacbee.com
11/13/2014 12:54 PM

Former Democratic state Sen. Joe Dunn is suing his former employer, the State Bar of California, alleging that the bar’s board wrongfully fired him as executive director after he reported illegal activities and ethical breaches by high-ranking officials in the quasi-governmental agency.

The State Bar, which is tasked with certifying lawyers and disciplining them in cases of illegal or unethical conduct, announced Thursday that it had parted ways with Dunn. The separation, “pursuant to his employment contract,” gives Dunn 30 days’ notice. The bar’s board of trustees directed President Craig Holden and Deputy Executive Director Robert Hawley to take over Dunn’s former duties.

Dunn’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, said his client is seeking unspecified damages and wants his job back. “Beyond that, we want all the unethical and corrupt activity rectified,” said Geragos, whose past clients have included Michael Jackson, Sen. Ron Calderon, actress Winona Ryder, Modesto politician Gary Condit and convicted killer Scott Peterson.

State Bar spokeswoman Laura Ernde said she had no comment on Dunn’s suit, which was filed in Los Angeles on Thursday.

While bar officials have said little, Dunn’s complaint said that employees under State Bar Chief Trial Counsel Jayne Kim’s direction unlawfully altered case backlog reports released to the board of trustees and the public.

“This was done to benefit Ms. Kim in her upcoming evaluation and to fraudulently inflate the productivity of her office,” Dunn’s complaint contends, calling her conduct “shockingly rampant.”

Dunn alleges that Kim also failed to crack down on a form of legal fraud that exploits the immigrant communities, despite legislative pressure for her to act.

Once Kim learned that Dunn and other bar employees had discovered the alleged improprieties, she filed a complaint against them with the board of trustees, according to the lawsuit. In the suit, Dunn said he has never seen a summary of the complaint.

The State Bar launched an internal investigation. The board brought in an outside law firm, the lawsuit says, even though a retired Supreme Court justice had offered to do the work for free.

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