California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 2000
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - February 2000
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News Briefs
Appeal court denies bar's petition to reverse Brosterhous
Fee bill introduced
Bar fee arb program gears up
David Bryson, Loren Miller recipient, dies at 58
Board to name one to Judicial Council
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You Need to Know
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Opinion
From the President - For our system to work, we need to be involved
Let's let public lawyers take a seat at the table
The illusion of a cosmetic fix
Letters to the Editor
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MCLE Self-Study
The Supreme Court and the ADA
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Appointments
Access commission seeks members for 2 positions
Apply to serve on a bar committee
Bar seeks applicants for ABA delegates
Judge evaluation positions open
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - 'Rampant' conflicts in a new economy
Attorney suspected of soliciting murder of bar prosecutor
Attorney Discipline
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Legal Tech - If the hype is right, ASPs are H-O-T
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Public Comment

DISCIPLINE

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Attorney suspected of soliciting murder of bar prosecutor
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A San Pedro attorney who was arrested last year on suspicion of soliciting the murder of a State Bar prosecutor has lost his license to practice for 18 months. Although no criminal charges have been filed, the Supreme Court disciplined BARRY J. POST [#72286] for misconduct in 25 cases. He was given a five-year stayed suspension, placed on five years of probation, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, make restitution to seven clients, submit eight matters to fee arbitration, seek psychiatric care, take and pass the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Oct. 22, 1999, with the exception of the actual suspension, which began Dec. 17, 1999.

Post stipulated to the misconduct.

A sole practitioner, Post hired A. Brent Carruth, an attorney for whom he previously worked, to provide staff and handle office manage-ment for him, including bookkeep-ing, bill paying, phone answering services and advertising.

At the time, Carruth was sus-pended, although he told Post he had “voluntarily surrendered” his law license. Post knew Carruth had been investigated by the State Bar, but was unaware of his suspension. (Carruth was disbarred in 1997.)

Post relied on Carruth to manage his office, but did not supervise him adequately.

His misconduct fell into three categories. In the first, Carruth accepted clients without Post’s knowledge; Post was not a party to the retainer agreement. The clients sometimes met with paralegals, Carruth or attorneys who worked for Carruth. The second group of clients believed they may have met or spoken with someone named Post, but it was unclear if they actually met Post.

Post actually represented a third group of clients.

A criminal defendant in the first group paid Post’s office $22,950 and a deed of trust to represent him in a drug case with third strike conse-quences. When he asked to have the deed of trust transferred back to him and sought an accounting, he received a response under Post’s name which promised someone would resolve the matter. The letter also told him to contact Carruth with questions.

Other clients paid retainer fees but no work was performed and refunds were not made.

The second group of clients, who may have met or spoken with someone named Post, had criminal cases. Post stipulated that he failed to adequately supervise Carruth’s activities or supervise communication with the clients.

One woman paid Post’s office $20,000 to handle her son’s criminal appeal, but was unable to meet with Post. She was told to mail her payments to an address other than Post’s office and did so. When she sought an accounting and received no response, she visited both offices for which she had addresses and found both vacant.

Two letters challenging Post’s failures received no response.

In the cases of the third group of clients, whom Post actually represented, he stipulated that he failed to provide competent legal services, communicate with clients, refund unearned fees or supervise his employees.

One client paid Post $20,000 to file a motion to withdraw the client’s guilty plea. The motion contained an error (referring to a psychiatrist as a pharmacist), which Post promised to correct. He did not do so and the client was sentenced to six years in prison. Post did not refund any portion of the fee.

In several cases, he relied on Carruth to refund unearned fees, but no refunds were made.

Post presented extensive mitigation, including serious health problems resulting from a lifetime of morbid obesity, emotional problems, and a resulting delegation of duties to Carruth. An accountant found that Carruth diverted as much as $110,000 of Post’s funds to his own use. He also removed irreplace-able documents from Post’s office, instructed employees to take orders only from him, secretly accepted clients in Post’s name and took their fees, and intercepted phone calls from clients and letters of inquiry from the State Bar.

Post has accepted full responsibility for his failure to supervise Carruth, has agreed to make restitution to all clients who did not receive legal services for which they paid, and is under the care of a psychiatrist.

Post was arrested last April at the bar’s Los Angeles offices on sus-picion of soliciting the murder of Carruth and a female bar prosecu-tor. Sheriff’s detectives said they received information that Post had solicited a private investigator to contract with someone to kill the two.

San Bernardino County deputy district attorney Jim Hill said the case is still being evaluated.