Attorney Ordered to Reimburse Attorney Fees to Registered Citizen

A Los Angeles attorney was recently ordered to reimburse most, although not all, attorney fees paid by a registered citizen and a family member seeking to obtain relief from registration after an arbitrator from the L.A. County Bar Association found that the clients “were clearly given bad advice”.

The attorney in this matter advised his clients that the best available relief from registration was a Writ of Mandate.  The attorney also advised his client that he was not eligible to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR).

The registered citizen paid the attorney a total of $4,500 for preparation and filing of a Writ of Mandate which the court denied.  Due to the attorney’s advice, the registered citizen did not apply for a COR although he was eligible to do so at the time.  The registered citizen’s eligibility to apply for a COR later ended due to passage of a new state law affecting individuals convicted of Penal Code Section 311.11.

The arbitrator in this case found that the registered citizen was harmed because “both the option to file a Writ of Mandate and that of obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation were closed off to persons” in the position of the registered citizen.  The arbitrator also found that the harm was solely attributable to the attorney due to his failure to advise the client that he was eligible to apply for a COR.

“Clients were clearly given bad advice and should have been given the option of filing for a Certificate,” the arbitrator ruled.  Based upon this ruling, the arbitrator ordered the attorney to reimburse $3,000 to the clients.  The arbitrator allowed the attorney to keep $1,500 of the fee because it was uncertain that the registered citizen would have been granted a COR.

During the arbitration, the registered citizen was represented by attorney Chance Oberstein who is vice president of California RSOL.

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This is another example of the moving target (always one more step beyond reach) that the legislators have used in the case of the COR to perpetuate stigma and punishment to registrants. COR’s should be available to all based on the dates and laws in effect at the time of their sentencing. Anything short of that is a breach of the constitution and should be challenged.

The individual in this case should be granted a COR especially based on the egregious and damaging tactics used by his former attorney.

I am confused. Can you please explain where it says 311.11’s can’t receive a COR of be relieved of the duty to register? I cannot seem to find it.

This is exactly what I am talking about when I say people and states can be held liable in civil courts for harm that they have caused a individual. It has nothing to do with the constitutional issues or with the legality of the registry it simple cause and effect issue. The state is at minimum partially liable for the harm being caused by the publicly accessible website and for distribution of current addresses and current photos which would otherwise not be public records……..

Great article. When I plead no contest to (1) battery case years ago, my counselor looked me in the eye and stated I would on register until I had the wobbler reduced to a misdemeanor. I took his advice very seriously. I found this to be untrue. I attempted to call him after and he never returned my calls/he is now a Commisioner in OC.

After paying our attorney 25,000 he abandoned our case after our son would not accept the plea and his phone had been disconnected. I needed to get something back in order to hire another attorney.

In counties where there is no local bar, you must file with the State Bar. You also must pay the State Bar 25% of the amount you are requesting back, so I only requested half.

It’s a lot of work, but for me, worth it. I had to travel from San Diego to Sacramento to attend the hearing. After winning my case, I also had to keep in constant contact with the State Bar since the attorney ignored their orders and never sent a check. In the end, and after two years, I collected what the State Bar had ordered him to refund.

I hired and local attorney, about 12 years ago, and gave him about $4500 retainer and he did some work, however, he never finish it. He has about $500 in un-use retainer. I have been by his office several times and receptionist left notes to-call me. I have not yet received that call.

I was under the impression that a violation of PC 311.xx excluded one from being granted a dismissal / expungement under PC 1203.4, the required basis for CoR application, AS OF (I believe) 1/1/2014, per AB 20 – meaning, IF the offense was COMMITTED AFTER that date.

Is this not correct?

‘d say that the great majority of us that had been arrested for their first time ever acted like deer in the headlights. I was crushed, humiliated, ashamed and completely lost. I hired an attorney that came recommended because she was a “good person.” Wrong qualifications for sure, but when one is in that fearful, panicked state of mind, what do you do, but grab the first person that offers any hope. She did little to advocate for me and at a cost of $20K it was money poorly spent. I came back to her asking for my file, which she had lost! Totally incompetent and rattle brained. Turned out she was friends with the DA and didn’t want to make him angry. I hired another attorney to file a modification, provided everything he needed in an organized binder, paid him $3500 for two conversations with the judge; I had some harsh words and he did give back half of my money. Finding a good, competent and qualified attorney is a difficult task, if not impossible given the financial status of most registrants seeking post conviction relief. Attorneys are expensive and we just can’t afford the best ones available. I have nothing else left to sell to pay an attorney, so what do you do?