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.