Where or to whom do I report questionable comments by a deputy attorney general?

Asked over 2 years ago - Long Beach, CA

I'm entering a stipulated settlement with a licensing board. My previous attorney was negligent in this matter and a related matter, and I am suing him for malpractice. Yesterday, my new attorney related to me that the DAG told her she is enraged that I am suing my former attorney. The DAG has intimidated my new attorney, threatening her with sanctions because she brought a motion to overturn the old stipulated settlement. The DAG's interest in my malpractice lawsuit seems beyond the pale to me and I believe it's having a negative effect on my attorney and this "new" settlement.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Christine C McCall

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . These comments are based on the matter that you have posted here:

    As an attorney who practices extensively in the field of licensing law, and as a former California State Administrative Law Judge who has presided at many many evidentiary hearings based on State license disciplinary proceedings, I have some strong doubts that the matter you report here has been correctly understood or added up. To put it plainly: these "facts" don't make sense against my knowledge of the territory.

    In the first place, the circumstances in which the ALJ is allowed by statute or regulation to order the imposition of sanctions against counsel are extremely limited and, as all attorneys who practice professional and occupational licensing law know, the risk of such action by an ALJ is very low. What is more, if such an order is made, and they rarely are, it is not likely to survive an "of right" review by the Superior Court.

    Even more importantly, there is no "motion" that can be brought to set aside a stipulated settlement of a licensing dispute. Theoretically, there could be a Petition for Writ of Mandate in the Superior Court but that is not a procedure that is the least intimidating to an attorney who practices licensing law. Writs are a regular part of licensing law and they are won and lost on a daily basis without any major drama or terror for the attorneys. (On the kinds of facts you make reference to, I don't doubt that your attorney is not optimistic about prevailing, if this is a Writ action.)

    Alternatively, you could be referencing a Petition for Re-instatement to a licensing agency but, again, the consequences of a bad decision pose no risk for the attorney and carry no potential for intimidation or sanctions.

    In all events, either you have a new settlement replacing an old one or you don't. The DAG does not make independent judgments and will not, in any event, make the decision as to settlement here -- that is up to the statutorily empowered licensing agency. The licensing agency couldn't care less what kinds of claims you are pursuing against a previous attorney and will not condition its approval of any settlement proposal -- whether or not the proposal is recommended by the assigned DAG -- on the fact or course of any pending malpractice claim against a private counsel.

    Either you and your present counsel are not communicating effectively, in which case I recommend a candid and lengthy discussion between the two of you. Or your present attorney is trying (badly) to prepare you for disappointment, in which case I recommend a candid and lengthy personal discussion between the two of you. Yes, on these facts, some rolling up of the sleeves and frank discussion here is the remedy no matter the specific details of the origin of the problem.

    In all events, in my view and based on my extensive experience in this very narrow practice area, I do not see this matter as one where your problem is to make any report to anyone about the conduct of the DAG. Even if the DAG did express surprise or disapproval about a malpractice claim against your previous attorney, so what? The DAG is the licensing agency's legal counsel, not "the decider." Whatever the problem is, it isn't the DAG.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice.... more
  2. Mark Weaver

    Contributor Level 10
    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . Having served as the Deputy Attorney General of Ohio, I'm very familiar with Attorneys General and their offices. Each employee of an Attorney General typical reports to a Unit or Section Chief and those people typically report to a senior attorney who in turn report to the Attorney General. The Attorney General is elected official. A written complaint to any or all of the people in that chain of command will get some type of response and if you can provide evidence to support your claim, may result in action being taken. Of course, all lawyers who work for an Attorney General are also subject to disciplinary action from the State Bar if they violate any ethical rules.

    Attorney Mark Weaver is licensed to practice in Ohio, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. Any answers... more
  3. Nicholas Basil Spirtos

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . I am not sure exactly what you are asking, but even if I could direct you to the proper person, it is not likely that anything would happen.

    Attorneys and parties to litigation have immunity from lawsuits arising out of that litigation except in very limited circumstances.

    Prosecutors also have immunity from most actions involving their conduct in cases.

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