California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 2001
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - August 2001
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News / News Briefs
MCLE deadline for Group 3 (last names N-Z) is Feb. 1
Judicial Council launches online self-help center
California lawyers honored for work for homeless, minorities and children
Coy about her future, Reno focuses on women's issues
No bias found against solos
Governor signs two-year fee bill
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Ethics update...
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Trials Digest
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Opinion
From the President - Bar targets unauthorized practice
Microsoft ruling: Foundation to settle
MJP is more than alphabet soup
Letters to the Editor
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Legal Tech - A look back at six years of technology news
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You Need to Know
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MCLE Self-Study
A word from our sponsors
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Let's go surfin' now, everybody's learnin' how
Recovering alcoholic may get to recover his license
Attorney Discipline
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Public Comment
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DISCIPLINE

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Recovering alcoholic may get to recover his license

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Though he drowned his high-powered legal career in alcoholism, MICHAEL KEITH BRADY [#113011], 49, of Sacramento has found several second chances along the road to recovery. Now the former lawyer is hoping for another shot at being a member of the State Bar: Less than two weeks after he was summarily disbarred, a trial judge vacated the criminal conviction that sparked the disciplinary action.

The California Supreme Court on June 20 took the State Bar's recommendation and summarily disbarred Brady for moral turpitude based on 1998 convictions of receiving stolen property and auto theft. But after he completed a court-ordered stint in a state prison rehabilitation center, charges were dismissed July 2 in a nunc pro tunc order by Sacramento County Judge Gary E. Ransom.

State Bar officials are currently considering what to do in light of the dismissal, which could allow the Supreme Court to reconsider the automatic disbarment.

Brady was disbarred even after he challenged the constitutionality of Business and Professions Code 6102(c), which allows for summary disbarment of any attorney convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude.

He alleged the statute usurps the inherent authority of the Supreme Court by barring consideration of mitigating factors - in this case, that the charges could be dismissed - and violates separation of powers.

Brady conceded the offenses were serious, but noted that he sought treatment and  had been a respected attorney prior to his spiral into alcohol and drug use, which he said was part of a "severe reaction" to the execution of multiple murder-er David Edwin Mason. In 1993, Brady, then a prominent criminal defense attorney, helped Mason end his habeas corpus appeals so he could face the death penalty.

His subsequent abuse of alcohol and methamphetamine led to client abandonment, a ruined marriage and homelessness. He was suspended in August 1998 for failing to perform legal services competently when he failed to appear at several Department of Motor Vehicles hearings on behalf of a client and also didn't appear at the jury trial.

In a separate case, three more counts of incompetence were dismissed when the bar began seeking Brady's disbarment. Until June, he had been on interim suspension in connection with the Sacramento County criminal case.

He said he pleaded no contest to the criminal charges with the understanding they could be dropped upon completion of a drug rehabilitation program.

"(Brady) should not now be able to undo the consequences of his serious felony conviction. He should have been aware when he entered the plea that the conviction could result in summary disbarment," bar counsel wrote in response to Brady's allegations.

But since the trial judge's order to vacate, Brady's attorneys have been working to win him a hearing before the State Bar Court in the hope he will be reinstated.

State Sen. John Burton, D-San Francisco, hired Brady as a consultant after he emerged from rehab. Brady has helped with the implementation of drug-court initiative Proposition 36 and is currently leading the creation of California's first comprehensive substance-abuse program for attorneys, a program sponsored by the State Bar. The recovery program legislation, authored by Burton, was approved by the legislature but was recently sent back by Gov. Gray Davis for amendment.