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California Supreme Court Enacts Sweeping Ethics Reforms Following Girardi Scandal

published November 30, 2023

By Author - LawCrossing
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( 2 votes, average: 4.1 out of 5)
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California Supreme Court Enacts Sweeping Ethics Reforms Following Girardi Scandal

Amidst growing criticism surrounding the State Bar of California's handling of the Tom Girardi case, the California Supreme Court has responded decisively by introducing a comprehensive set of ethics reforms. These reforms, officially approved on Tuesday, mark a significant milestone in addressing concerns related to conflicts of interest and ethical lapses within the regulatory body.
 

 Strengthening Conflict of Interest Rules
 
The California Supreme Court has given the green light to three pivotal changes designed to reinforce conflict of interest regulations for State Bar of California trustees and State Bar Court judges engaged in attorney discipline cases. With immediate effect, state bar trustees are now mandated to recuse themselves from any decision in which they hold a financial or personal interest.
 
 Screening Candidates for the State Bar's Board of Trustees
 
Starting December 1, the committee responsible for evaluating candidates for the state bar’s board of trustees will expand its scrutiny to assess the impact of candidates' "relationships with other attorneys" on their ability to serve. This added criterion complements the examination of candidates' financial and non-financial interests, ensuring a more thorough evaluation process.
 
 Stricter Screening for State Bar Court Judges
 
Also effective December 1, individuals aspiring to serve as judges in the State Bar Court will undergo more rigorous screening for financial or personal relationships that could compromise their ability to serve impartially. The objective is to guarantee that judges conduct themselves in a manner that avoids impropriety, the appearance of impropriety, or the need for frequent disqualification.
 
 Context: Tom Girardi's Controversial Case
 
The impetus for these reforms stems from intensified scrutiny of the State Bar of California following the Tom Girardi scandal. Girardi, a nationally renowned plaintiffs' lawyer, faces federal charges in California and Illinois for allegedly embezzling over $18 million from his firm's clients.
 
Despite amassing 205 ethics complaints since 1982, Girardi faced no disciplinary action until his disbarment in 2022. A March report by a State Bar-hired investigator uncovered connections between at least nine former state bar employees and Girardi, with some receiving gifts, raising questions about the regulatory body's oversight.
 
 Acknowledgment and Forward Commitment
 
In response to the California Supreme Court's decision, the State Bar of California issued a statement expressing gratitude for the court's leadership in updating its conflict of interest code. Urged by the court to expedite its proposal, the state bar emphasizes that the adopted measures will maintain the highest ethical standards in decision-making, furthering the organization's commitment to its public protection mission.

published November 30, 2023

By Author - LawCrossing
( 2 votes, average: 4.1 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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