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Alec Chang, Alex Kozinski, Allen Matkins, David Washburn – Voice of OC Managing Editor, Dewey & LeBoeuf, Diane Karpman, Douglas Winthrop, Fogel v. Farmers, Fogel v. Farmers Group, Gilles Attia, Girardi & Keese, Holly Fujie, Howard Miller, Howard Rice, James Brosnahan, James Towery, Jerome Falk, Joe Dunn, Judge John Coughenour, Judy Johnson, Karina Hamilton, Karpman & Associates, Martha Escutia, Morrison & Foerster, Raoul Kennedy, Richard Blum -- Regent of the University of California; Husband of California Senator Dianne Fienstein, Senator Joe Dunn, Skadden Arps, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, State Bar of California, Thomas Girardi, Voice of OC, Voice of OC -- Orange County's Nonprofit Investigative News Agency, William Fletcher, William Highberger, Yolo County Superior Court

In Letter to Ninth Circuit Judges Complainant Blasts California Bar Re Federal Misconduct Case of Tom Girardi;Alleges Joseph Dunn Aided by Morrison & Foerster/Girardi & Keese in Launching “Voice of OC” under Suspicious Circumstances

RE: NINTH CIRCUIT MATTER OF IN RE THOMAS GIRARDI ; U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE MORRISON C. ENGLAND; EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA, JOE DUNN OF VOICE OF OC; JAMES BROSNAHAN OF MORRISON & FOERSTER; LAW OFFICES OF SKADDEN ARPS; HOLLY FUJIE

Dear Honorable Chief Judge Kozinski and Honorable Judges Berzon, Smith, Tashima, and Fletcher:

This is written to advise you of circumstances relating to the California State Bar’s handling of the matter of In re Girardi pursuant to an order issued by this Court.

By way of background, at the conclusion of the appeal in a civil case prosecuted by the firms of Girardi & Keese and Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack against Dole Food Company, Judge Kozinski issued an order to show cause why Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack should not be disbarred, suspended, or sanctioned for the attempt to defraud this Court for the purpose of unjustly collecting a $500 million judgment.

Representing Thomas Girardi in those disciplinary proceedings before this Court were the law firm of Skadden Arps and ethics expert Diane Karpman. Ms. Karpman asked this Court to appoint a special prosecutor, and the Court appointed Hastings Law School professor Rory Little.

Oral arguments ensued, during which one of the judges on the panel stated that the “elephant” in the room is the manner in which the matter would be developed by the State Bar of California.

Subsequently, this Court found both Girardi and Lack culpable, and imposed monetary sanctions, reprimanded Girardi, and suspended Lack. This Court also ordered Girardi and Lack to report its findings to the State Bar of California.

 


Judge William Fletcher, a member of the Ninth Circuit panel that adjudicated the matter of In re Girardi, 08-80090, rejected the lenient recommendations of Rory Little. He stated: “with any competent lawyer if you’re omitting part of a document, that is not accidental. That is intentional.” The court adjudicated that the grave misconduct by Walter Lack and Thomas Girardi included “the persistent use of known falsehoods,” and that the “false representations” were made “knowingly, intentionally, and recklessly” during years of litigation.

The day after this Court issued its ruling, respondents’ counsel moved to redact their names from the published decision, a motion this Court denied. (This issue will surface again, below.)

The State Bar of California assigned the matter to an outside special prosecutor (Jerome Falk of Howard Rice) since Howard Miller of Girardi & Keese served as President of the State Bar, and had hired the Chief Trial counsel of the State Bar at the time, Mr. James Towery.

After conducting an interview with Walter Lack, Jerome Falk chose to not file any charges against Lack or Girardi based on his position that any false statements submitted were not “intentional.” This determination was contrary to findings made by this Court.

Within days of the issuance of Mr. Falk’s decision, I advanced an ethics complaint against James Towery, Jerome Falk, Howard Miller, and Douglas Winthrop, contending that it had been improper for Mr. Towery to select Jerome Falk (of Howard Rice) to serve as special prosecutor because, among other reasons, Howard Miller (of Girardi & Keese) had appointed Howard Rice’s managing partner (Douglas Winthrop) as president of the California Bar Foundation, a foundation owned, controlled, and maintained by the State Bar of California.

(Incidentally, while examining materials in connection with California Bar Foundation board members, including Howard Miller of Girardi & Keese, Douglas Winthrop of Howard Rice, Holly Fujie of Buchalter Nemer, Annette Carnegie of Morrison & Foerster, and ex-CPUC Commissioner Geoffrey Brown (cousin of governor Jerry Brown, I also unearthed disturbing events relating to a Section 501 entity known as CaliforniaALL involving many of the same individuals and related entities.)

 

 

The peculiar nature of the motion to redact the names of respondents’ counsel from the published decision of this Court prompted me to look into the matter further. I then discovered that, beginning in 2003, Girardi & Keese and Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack were prosecuting a class action case against Farmers Insurance Company, which was represented by Skadden Arps. This was a nationwide class action with estimated damages of close to $15 billion that had originally been filed by Texas Governor Rick Perry.

I thereafter informed the Los Angeles County Superior Court (Judge William Highberger) of this information, and filed a State Bar ethics complaint against attorneys Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese and Thomas Nolan and Raoul Kennedy of Skadden Arps because neither the class of plaintiffs (consisting of 14 million Americans), nor the courts (the Ninth Circuit in the matter of In Re Girardi and the Los Angeles County Superior Court in the matter of Fogel vs. Farmers) had been informed of the concurrent representation by which Skadden Arps represented Girardi & Keese (in the Ninth Circuit matter), while at the same time defending Farmers against Girardi and Keese’s clients (in the Fogel v. Farmers matter). (This background may help explain why Skadden Arps rushed to defend Thomas Girardi before the Ninth Circuit.)

Shortly after I filed this ethics complaint, Skadden Arps moved ex parte (which, not surprisingly, was unopposed) to amend the settlement agreement in the Fogel matter and the notice to the class of 14 million Americans throughout the country to include a proviso by which members of the class would be prohibited from suing anyone due to the concurrent representation described above. Nevertheless, the State Bar of California decided not to take any action on this ethics complaint.

In the meantime, I also discovered that during the period that Howard Miller, Douglas Winthrop, Holly Fujie of Buchalter Nemer, Annette Carnegie of Morrison & Foerster, and ex-CPUC Commissioner Geoffrey Brown were serving as board members for the California Bar Foundation, a highly unusual financial transaction took place in which approximately $780,000 was quietly transferred, causing the California Bar Foundation to end the year in the red.

Upon further examination, I discovered that the money had been transferred to a newly-created Section 501(c)(3) non-profit entity (headed by a friend of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakayue — Ruthe Catolico Ashley) known as CaliforniaALL. In turn, CaliforniaALL funneled a large portion of the money to the UCI Foundation, where State Bar of California Executive Director Joe Dunn served as trustee.

 

CaliforniaALL never acknowledged receipt of the $780,000 from the Cal Bar Foundation in any of its publications, although it did acknowledge the transfer on its IRS tax returns. Likewise, the California Bar Foundation never acknowledged the largest grant it ever bestowed in its newsroom, the California Bar Journal, or similar publications; it did, however, recognize the transfer on its IRS returns, and in a 2 by 2 inch blurb in its annual report.

 

Various factors and evidence caused me to suspect that a significant portion of the funds transferred from the California Bar Foundation ended up financing a newly-created online publication which Joe Dunn had launched with the help of Thomas Girardi and James Brosnahan of Morrison & Foerster; this online publication is known as “Voice of OC.”

Those factors include, but are not limited to, the fact that some individuals and entities involved in the creation of CaliforniaALL and the subsequent transfer of $780,000 from the Cal Bar Foundation to CaliforniaALL were also involved in assisting Joe Dunn with the creation of “Voice of OC” to wit – Morrison & Foerster’s Susan MacCormac as legal counsel for CaliforniaALL; Girardi & Keese’s Howard Miller in his capacity as BOD member of Cal Bar Foundation; and BOG members who voted to endorse CaliforniaALL and consider it to have been a partner of the State Bar of California. Morrison & Foerster’s James Brosnahan and Girardi & Keese’s Thomas Girardi also assisted Joe Dunn in establishing Voice of OC.

While James Brosnahan and Thomas Girardi served as members of the Voice of OC board of directors, for unknown reasons they subsequently chose to quit.

Based on my concerns, I requested that Voice of OC provide me with copies of its IRS 990 forms. Voice of OC did not comply with applicable IRS regulation in that it failed to reply to my request for copies of its 990 forms submitted to the IRS, whereupon I filed a complaint against Voice of OC and Joe Dunn with the IRS.

Also in connection with CaliforniaALL, I have advanced a judicial misconduct complaint against Judge Morrison England since State Bar of California Executive Director Judy Johnson, Judge England, his wife (Torie Flournoy-England), and State Bar of California employee Patricia Lee were all members of CaliforniaALL’s board of directors and/or advisory council. The basis for that complaint was these individuals’ failure to inform plaintiff Sara Granda — who had filed an action in federal court naming the State Bar of California as a sole defendant that was heard by Judge Morrison England — of these facts.

California ALL DLA Piper Reception
On January 27, 2009 DLA Piper’s Gilles Attia and the Office of Assembly-member Mike Davis co-hosted a reception honoring California ALL at the Tsakopoulos Galleria in Sacramento. Bottom (left to right): Ruthe Ashley; Judge Morrison England and Mrs. Torie Flournoy-England; Ruthe Ashley, Gilles Attia, News 10 Presenter Sharon Ito, and Assembly-member Mike Davis. Top right is Karina Hamilton. Mike Davis, an ally of former assembly-member Gwen Moore and Karen Bass, is the vice-chair of the Legislative Black Caucus.

Specifically, without informing plaintiff Granda of his relationship with Judy Johnson (the State Bar’s Executive Director) vis-a-vis CaliforniaALL and either obtaining a waiver from this plaintiff or independently recusing himself, Judge England summarily dismissed Ms. Granda’s complaint against the California State Bar. Fortunately for Ms. Granda, several days later then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger championed her cause and pressured the California Bar to accommodate her needs.

Unfortunately, the Clerk of the Ninth Circuit rejected my complaint against Judge England claiming, incorrectly, that I did not comply with a requirement to insert wording to the effect that I understand that irrespective of the complaint, the outcome of the underlying case will not be affected. At that point, I chose not to resubmit the complaint against Judge England.

My discovery concerning Jerome Falk (specifically, that Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack were clients of his firm) occurred only a few months ago, and my plan was to approach the Ninth Circuit to request either that the Court reopen the matter of In Re Girardi or that it appoint a special prosecutor to determine what, if any, ethical violations transpired.

However, in a shocking turn of events, I was recently served with a search warrant while at home. Six investigators from the Yolo County District Attorney’s office (some of them armed) arrived at my home on February 23, 2012, searched the premises, and confiscated two computers and documents relating to, among others, Joe Dunn, Thomas Girardi, Judy Johnson, Holly Fujie, Alec Chang of Skadden Arps, James Towery, and State Bar attorneys Mark Torres Gil, Lawrence Yee, and Rachel Grunberg, as well as material belonging to online publication The Leslie Brodie Report, and communications from the Internal Revenue Service relating to the complaint I had filed against Joe Dunn and Voice of OC.

My understanding is that members of the State Bar of California Board of Governors (presumably, State Bar of California Executive Director Joe Dunn of Voice of OC, Alec Chang of Skadden Arps, and others with their own financial and liberty interest at stake due to my whistleblowing activities) have presented claims to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Jeff Reisig and Michael Cabral to file criminal charges against me, for among other things, alleged violations of Business and Professions Code section 6043.5, on the purported basis that the ethics complaints I filed were unfounded and constituted criminal conduct.

Incidentally, I was informed by friendly sources many months ago that if choose to expose corruption concerning Joe Dunn and Thomas Girardi via these complaints, they will try to frame me by various means similar to the ones used against Erin Baldwin. At that time, my reaction was complete skepticism of Erin Baldwin and her story because I could not imagine that such conduct could occur in our country. It appears that I may have been naive.

Consequently, please note the motion to re-open the In Re Girardi matter will be delayed.

Thank you for your time.

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About Leslie Brodie

Leslie Brodie is a reporter, writer, blogger, activist, and a religious leader in the community.

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