California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - APRIL 1999
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - April 1999
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News
Legal specialist exam set Aug. 19
Sullivan to take reins at Stanford Law School
Only two appointed members remaining on State Bar board
Legal services board has five vacancies
Davis taps Michael Kahn
State Bar honors Justice Mosk with Witkin Medal
Board tentatively approves budget based on dues of $384
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Opinion
If it distracts, so be it
Let's cut back on jury service
Limit bar to admissions and discipline
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From the President - Door to justice must be open
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Letters to the Editor
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Law Practice - Preparing for a successful mediation
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Appointments - Apply to serve on a bar committee
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Legal Tech - DSL speeds up Internet - at a reasonable price
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New Products & Services
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MCLE Self-Study
Taxes and long-term care
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Trials Digest
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Fiduciary duties basis for all rules
Attorney nabbed at State Bar offices for soliciting murders
Attorney Discipline
Ethics for the 21st Century - A canon for the future
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Public Comment

DISCIPLINE

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Attorney nabbed at State Bar offices for soliciting murders
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A San Pedro criminal defense attorney was arrested at State Bar offices in Los Angeles on suspicion of soliciting the murders of his former partner and a bar prosecutor. BARRY POST [#72286], 47, was taken into custody in February by San Bernardino County sheriff's investigators and held on $500,000 bail. He later was released on his own recognizance.

At the time of his arrest, Post was at the bar offices discussing a possible settlement of charges of misconduct brought against him. He faces 13 counts of wrongdoing, including failure to perform legal services competently, return unearned fees, return client files, or cooperate with the bar's investigations, and collecting an unconscionable fee and aiding in the unauthorized practice of law.

Trial on the charges is scheduled to begin May 3.

Sheriff's detectives said they received a tip months ago that Post was upset about the bar's investigation and solicited a private investigator to contract with someone to kill the female prosecutor. The woman has been replaced by another attorney.

In addition, deputies said Post allegedly was upset with his former law partner and wanted him killed as well.

The private investigator notified authorities of Post's solicitation and they began an investigation.

Sgt. Chris Elvert said the case was still under investigation late last month and was expected to go to the district attorney's office by April.

The bar charges involve several instances of allegedly failing to represent clients properly.

In the first case, a client in a criminal matter met with Post's paralegal and then with Brent Carruth, an attorney in his office who was suspended from practice at the time.

According to the charges, the client signed a retainer agreement, paid $5,000 in advance attorney's fees, and was told by the paralegal that Carruth would begin work on his case.

After his phone calls to the office were not returned, the client learned that Carruth was not entitled to practice and sought a refund of his fees.

The bar charges Post with aiding Carruth in the unauthorized practice of law and failing to refund the client's $5,000.

In two other cases, Post is charged with failing to do the work for which he was hired, or to return unearned fees.

Post was hired to handle another criminal matter which involved filing a motion to withdraw his client's no contest plea. The client paid $20,000 up front.

The client ultimately was sentenced to six years in state prison, after Post guaranteed that the sentence would be for less time, according to the bar's charges.

Prosecutors also charge that Post's fee was "grossly exorbitant" in view of the amount of work he did on the case.

Post denies the charges. In several instances, he said he was unaware of telephone calls or correspondence from clients and the State Bar.

In one matter, he says the client terminated his services before he had an opportunity to prepare papers to sign or documents to file.

He claims Carruth, who was disbarred in 1997, took some client files when he left Post's employ, and Post's efforts to retrieve them have been unsuccessful. He also says he instructed Carruth to refund fees in one matter and does not know whether the refund was made.

Post says the $20,000 fee in one matter "was not unreasonable," given the amount and type of research and other work required in establishing his client's "novel defense."