California Bar Journal
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Lawyer, suspended for 18 of 26 eligible years, finally disbarred
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A southern California lawyer who has persistently challenged disciplinary charges against him for the past 14 years and ultimately lost a battle before the Supreme Court in March has been disbarred. In recommending disbarment for MASON HARRY ROSE V [#48570], the State Bar Court said that he “has been either committing misconduct or actually suspended as a result of that misconduct for approximately 18 of the 26 years since he was admitted to practice.”

Rose, 63, of Palos Verdes Peninsula, lost his license May 6, although he has not practiced law since November 1989.

He made headlines earlier this year when the Supreme Court ruled that lawyers who face disciplinary charges are not entitled to automatic review when a petition is denied. Reaffirming its own procedures for attorney discipline, the court said there is no constitutional requirement that it hear oral argument or render a written opinion in cases where a writ of review has not issued.

Rose had claimed that the court’s practice of summarily denying review of discipline recommendations, without holding oral arguments or issuing a written decision, violated lawyers’ due process rights.

In addition to that ruling, the bar court’s review department published two opinions concerning Rose. One of those was the first reported case in which the bar filed an entirely new set of charges against him for probation violations, rather than simply seeking to revoke his probation. “Given the egregiousness of his misconduct and the continued violation of probation conditions, we exercised our discretion to proceed with new charges rather than as a probation violation,” explained Allen Blumenthal, an attorney with the State Bar’s office of trial counsel.

Admitted to practice in 1971, Rose first came to the bar’s attention as a result of accusations that he engaged in a variety of misdeeds from 1978 through 1985. In 1986, he was placed on five years of probation and suspended for two years after the State Bar Court found that he failed to communicate with clients, provide legal services competently, or discharge his obligations with regard to client funds and records, and improper client solicitation and improper business dealings with a client. Rose appealed the hearing department’s findings to the review department, and ultimately to the Supreme Court, which upheld both bar court opinions and noted that, but for the extensive mitigation, Rose would have been disbarred.

In 1992, he was again disciplined and his default entered after the bar court found that he failed to communicate with clients or perform legal services in three instances and did not cooperate with the bar’s investigation. Most of the misconduct in that matter occurred in 1988 and 1989.

In the case which led to his disbarment, Rose argued that he substantially complied with his probation conditions and that in any case, the conditions he violated were “relatively minor.” He also said there were more mitigating circumstances than found by the hearing judge.

In denying his arguments, review Judge Kenneth Norian said that Rose had been disciplined four times and that his misconduct was serious. Rose “has had ample opportunity to conform his conduct to the ethical requirements of the profession, but has repeatedly failed or refused to do so,” Norian wrote.

Even though his extensive community service on behalf of the disabled was considered “significant” mitigation, Rose’s record of misconduct was too great to overcome, Norian said. “Probation and suspension have proven inadequate in the past to protect against future misconduct,” he wrote, “and the record before us does not give assurance that such a sanction will ensure that future misconduct does not occur.”