Hazard, Rachel Abelson, Debra Lawson
1. The latest article published by TLR, tells the story of two lawyers
who were disbarred from the State Bar of California under questionable
circumstances, Mr. Shalant and Mr. Gottschalk. Both nemesis of Thomas
Girardi of Girardi & Keese. The story should be viewed as only one
side of the coin.
The other side, is the unwillingness of the State Bar to prosecute
attorneys from the firm of Girardi & Keese (or associated firms)
when circumstances clearly mandate such prosecution. Misconduct by
Girardi & Keese in the litigation against Dole is such an example,
where charges should have been filed over five years ago.
Reciprocating, Howard Miller, the president of the State Bar of
California, ignores misconduct committed by State Bar employees, judges,
executives, and prosecutors.
Miller’s inaction is not motivated at all by the fact that Girardi
deposits money at his bank account on a bi-weekly basis. Performance
bonus,once per year.
Additionally, Girardi & Keese is one of the main contributors to the
State Bar Foundation. As was reported here, the Foundation funnels a
large part of the donation it receives to the State Bar of California,
the parent organization. The rest goes to operating expenses,
scholarships, and legal organizations.
The money funneled to the State Bar of California is usually spent by
the State Bar on diversity related event. For example, on April 12-13
of this year, the State Bar of California sponsored a two-day diversity
workshop. It took place at the San Francisco Hyatt.
You did not hear about it, as it was only open to employees of the state
bars of California’s 49 sister states.
A copy of the brochure can be found at the State Bar of Ohio web-site:
Strangely, while State Bar employees are being laid-off, the State Bar
of California offered stipends to those who wish to attend from across
The purpose of the event was to educate the employees on matters
relating to diversity in the legal profession. Of course, the current
de-jure executive director of the State Bar of California, Judy Johnson,
was one of the speakers.
Johnson, feeling important and proud of herself ( with the monetary help
of Girardi & Keese), is nowhere to be found when it relates to
misconduct by Girardi & Keese, as the charade continues.
Notwithstanding the above, TLR acknowledges the wide spread instances of
racism, sexism and discrimination within the legal profession and the
legal system. TLR will continue to support the advancement of racial,
ethnic, religious, women and LGBT persons, as well as persons with
disabilities. Concurrently, TLR will continue with efforts to
investigate specific institutions, organizations, and individuals who
display or otherwise engage in invidious discrimination.
2. TLR became aware of Ronald Gottschalk during the investigation and
publication of the expose dubbed “Bribing Pat.”
Gottschalk’s defense attorney, Mr. Stanley Arouty, alleged that Judge
Pat McElroy engaged in the destruction and spoliation of evidence.
For McElroy, it was the third time a party levels such accusation
To date, the California Supreme Court and the State Bar Board of
Governors took no action to inquire as to Judge McElroy’s trail of
Should such an investigation be requested by Miller, it would sabotage
the disbarment of Gottschalk, who is one of Thomas Girardi’s nemeses.
However, Girardi & Keese’s involvement in the Gottschalk proceedings
does not end with Mr. Miller. It also manifested itself to TLR via the
name Stephen Larson.
With respect to Mr. Stephen Larson, TLR declares unequivocally that
presently it possesses no evidence of any wrongdoing on
Stephen Larson is a former federal judge and a current partner at the
firm of Girardi & Keese. At 2006, he assumed the position of a
district court judge in the Central District of California. In
September of 2010, he quit the bench amid dissatisfaction with his low
salary. A month later, he assumed a partnership position with the firm
of Girardi & Keese.
While a district court judge, Stephen Larson presided over a case that
was brought by Ronald Gottschalk against Litt, Vargas, and L.A. County.
Stephen Larson’s adjudication of the matter involving Gottschalk,
standing alone, is of no concern to TLR.
However, the surfacing of the name Girardi & Keese, via Stephen
Larson, is troubling to TLR, under the totality of the circumstances.
Also troubling to TLR is the fact that presiding over the Gottschalk’s
proceedings in the State Bar Court is Judge Patrice McElroy, who
unfortunately possesses very little qualities normally expected of a
judge. Her prior involvement in the Bribing Pat saga alerted TLR,
McElroy’s integrity is amiss.
Pat McElroy, failed to recognise the seriousness of her anti-social
behaviour. Her prior involvement in the Bribing Pat saga alerted TLR,
McElroy’s integrity is amiss.
3. An article published in yesterday’s Recorder discusses the
potential conflict of interest Mr. James Towery faces in any prosecution
of Thomas Girardi.
The article quotes several legal experts who opined that since Howard
Miller is both a partner at Girardi & Keese, and the president of
the State Bar, a conflict exists. The experts opined Towery’s best
course of action would be to assign the case to an outside entity.
As stated above, the referral to an outside counsel should have been
done 5 years ago, when the attempted fraud was discovered.
4. The “Rachel Abelson Scandal” is yet another scandal involving
extreme misconduct by the State Bar of California; and subsequent
attempt to cover it up, and cover a little more, and just a tiny bit
The net result, as the readers will soon see, is that the compounding
alone is greater than the principal; and, is of a greater interest to
TLR and its staff.
It took for an honest judge from the San Francisco Superior Court to
shed just enough light on the scandal, providing TLR with the
opportunity to connect the dots.
The judge, Hon. James Warren, admonished the State Bar that he (Judge
Warren) finds that the trial tactics, and meritless legal position the
State Bar was advocating to be “Disquieting“.
Additionally, Judge Warren, in a written decision stated that he found
the circumstances in which Rachel Abelson, a State bar employee who
breached confidentiality, to be “Rather Gossipy”.
It now appears that Debra Murphy Lawson, along with a State Bar
investigator, Mr. Malmquist, also took part in the attempt to conceal
the breach of confidentiality, at the expense of the victim.
In a suit filed in federal court, it was alleged that Debra Lawson,
along with State Bar investigator Malmquist, intentionally did not
contact or questioned Abelson at all, despite knowing about her
The one and only time Abelson was contacted by anyone from the State
Bar, pursuant to her sworn testimony, was when Donald Steedman had
called to alert her that the victim managed to ascertain her identity.
Specifically, Abelson testified that Donald Steedman spoke with her for
less than a minute, and did not ask any questions or attempted to
conduct an inquiry. This, despite Steedman’s duty to investigate
Most troubling to TLR is Donald Steedman prior attempts, via his
oppositions to the various motions submitted by the victim to the State
Bar Court, urging the court to block any attempts by the victim to
ascertain the name and identity of his former law clerk.
Based on Judge Warren’s findings that Abelson breach of confidentiality
was “rather gossipy,” it is easy to understand Steedman, Malmquist, and
5. Previously, TLR learned of the involvement of Hastings Ethics
Professor, Mr. Geoffrey Hazard, in the Ninth Circuit proceedings
involving Girardi & Keese and Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack.
Allegedly, Prof. Geoffrey Hazard, was retained by the defense as an
expert witness to opine about issues pertaining to ethics. Prof. Hazard
submitted an expert opinion, in a form of a sworn declaration, that no
sanctions should be imposed.
Hazard’s testimony was before the panel of judges consisted of Marsha
Berzon, Randy Smith, and William Fletcher.
William Fletcher, aka Bill Fletcher, is a well-known FOB. A Friend of
Bill is a disbarred ex-respondent, and the former president of the
United States of America.
While president, Bill Clinton nominated W. Fletcher, a Boalt Hall
professor and his campaign manager in Northern California, to serve as a
judge with the Ninth Circuit.
The appointment was delayed as W. Fletcher’s mother, Betty Fletcher,
also serves as a judge on the Ninth Circuit. Despite allegation of
nepotism, W. Fletcher was confirmed.
In addition to being a judge, the former campaign manager of Bill
Clinton, and a law professor, W. Fletcher is also an accomplished
In fact, he, along with Geoffrey Hazard, the ethics expert who appeared
before him in the Dole litigation, co-authored the following:
A big coincidence, or just a coincidence?