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 courts 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 courts 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 Bars office of trial counsel.
Admitted to practice in 1971, Rose first came to the bars
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 departments 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 bars 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, Roses 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.