A Berkeley attorney whose outbursts during her
disciplinary trial forced the judge to summon police was disbarred for abandoning clients
and keeping their fees and for character-izing other lawyers and judges as racists and
protectors of pedophiles. KATHRYN (KATE) JO-ANNE DIXON [#98514], 48,
of Berkeley lost her license to practice Dec. 10, 1999, and was ordered to comply
with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court.
Dixon received 30.5 percent of the vote in an unsuccessful 1996 bid
for a seat on the Alameda Superior Court.
She had gained notoriety in East Bay legal circles for a 1992 federal
suit against the Emeryville School District accusing teachers and administra-tors of
abusing schoolchildren as part of an international pedophile ring. When authorities said
the charges lacked merit, Dixon then accused a host of officials of conspiracy.
Although those actions were not part of the State Bars
prosecution of Dixon, she vilified witnesses, the hearing judge and the prosecutor
throughout the disciplinary pro-ceedings, calling them variously liars, terrorists and
At the conclusion of the trial, the State Bar Court hearing judge
found, and the review department agreed, that Dixon committed 29 counts of professional
misconduct involving eight clients. Four counts involved moral turpitude.
The misconduct included abandoning or failing to communicate with six
clients, failure to return unearned fees and misleading the court.
In one matter, Dixon was retained and paid $800 to represent a client
in a child care license revocation proceeding brought by the Department of Social
About the same time, she had a trial date for a criminal matter in
which she was defense counsel. She never informed her client, the social services attorney
or the criminal court about the scheduling conflict, according to the review department
Instead, she notified the other attorney she wished to settle the
matter; another day, she said her client refused to settle. In fact, she had never
discussed settlement with her client, the court said.
Dixon failed to appear at a social services hearing. Eventually, the
client settled with the department without Dixons help.
Dixon told her client the attorney for social services was a racist
with a prejudice against Mexican-Americans and blacks. In corresponding with the State
Bar, Dixon said the other attorney called her client a dirty spick.
The attorney denied making such comments, and the review department
noted for the record that the attorney is married to a Mexican-American.
The bar court found that Dixon failed to perform legal services
competently, keep her client informed of developments in her case, return client property
or refund unearned fees. The court also found she sought to mislead a judicial officer and
that her false accusations of racial animus constituted moral turpitude.
In two other cases, Dixon described opposing attorneys as racists.
She failed to appear at hearings, did not perform legal services competently, did not
return client phone calls or refund unearned fees.
In the disbarment proceeding, Dixon regularly referred to witnesses
and the prosecutor as liars and perjurers.
Prior to her trial before the bar, Dixon threatened to get
or kill a witness, and called the woman a thief and a liar.
In the case of a client who fired her, Dixon contacted the attorney
for two opposing parties, suggesting she be deposed concerning the merits of her former
clients claim. She also offered a declaration based on information she claimed the
ex-client had given her as his attorney.
In addition, she sent a declaration dealing with the merits of the
suit to counsel for one of the parties. All the while, she regularly referred to her
former client as a terrorist.
Dixon tried to justify her actions because the client filed a
malpractice suit against her and sued for recovery of fees he had paid.
In recommending Dixons disbarment, the review department cited the magnitude of [her] misconduct and her
lack of recognition of that misconduct.
There is little hope that [Dixon] would conform her method of
practicing law to the professional standards of this state, the judges said.