Bloomberg Law
Feb. 10, 2023, 2:25 AMUpdated: Feb. 10, 2023, 9:45 PM

California Bar Ex-Director Avoids Some Disciplinary Charges (2)

Joyce E. Cutler
Joyce E. Cutler
Staff Correspondent

A California State Bar Court judge dismissed some of the disciplinary case against former bar Executive Director Joseph Dunn Thursday, finding the charges were based on allegations investigated and dismissed eight years ago.

Judge Yvette D. Roland also dismissed as time-barred a charge alleging Dunn made misleading statements about pending legislation. Roland allowed the bar to argue moral turpitude claims for allegedly false remarks Dunn made to the board that no bar funds would be used to fund a January 2014 trip to Mongolia.

The bar filed disciplinary charges against Dunn last July, saying the charges were based on an independent source related to Dunn’s employment arbitration over his 2014 firing and thus weren’t time barred. That independent source was a retired judge’s arbitration award in 2017.

“This case never should have been brought in the first place,” Dunn’s attorney Mark Geragos, of Geragos & Geragos, said in an email, calling the ruling “the death knell for this sham prosecution.”

“We are now left with the spectacle of the State Bar spending $500,000 to pursue their former Executive Director for a less than 5,000 dollar expenditure almost 10 years ago while seeking to raise every lawyer in California’s Bar dues,” Geragos said.

Stacia Laguna, bar special deputy trial counsel administrator, said in a Friday statement that the “remaining charges against Mr. Dunn are serious offenses, and we look forward to presenting our evidence and prosecuting the remaining charges at the proper time.”

The judge also rejected Dunn’s bid to dismiss the case for the bar’s alleged slow discovery responses, after she previously expressed concern about the length of time to complete discovery.

Roland held “there is no showing” of the special deputy trial counsel’s “outright refusal to comply with its discovery obligations or other evidence of discovery abuse.”

The bar noted in an emailed statement Friday that the court “denied respondent’s motion for terminating sanctions, finding no willful failure to comply with court-ordered discovery by the Special Deputy Trial Counsels (SDTC). The court noted that the SDTCs have updated the court regarding the time, effort, and extraordinary cost associated with fully responding to Respondent’s discovery requests.”

Roland said the adequacy of special counsel’s “discovery responses is not before the court at this time. That issue may be raised on a motion to compel.”

The judge separately continued a status conference scheduled for Friday to Feb. 16.

The case is In the Matter of Joseph Lawrence Dunn, Cal. State Bar, No. 22-O-30655, order 2/9/23.

(Added quote from Stacia Laguna, bar special deputy trial counsel administrator, in sixth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Maya Earls at; Rob Tricchinelli at