STATE BAR BOARD OF GOVERNORS INVESTIGATES JNE LEAK

MEDIA CONTACT:  Diane Curtis   415-538-2028   diane.curtis@calbar.ca.gov

San Diego, September 11, 2009 — Incoming State Bar President Howard Miller announced today that he is appointing a State Bar Task Force/Committee to conduct a thorough investigation into charges that a confidential Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission (JNE) rating of a judicial candidate was illegally leaked, as reported in the media.

The JNE Investigation Task Force will be chaired by William Gailey, a member of the Board of Governors who is a former homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department and now heads a private investigation firm. The members of the JNE Task Force will include Bonnie Dumanis, District Attorney of San Diego County who is concluding her third year on the Board of Governors; Richard Frankel, also concluding his third year on the Board of Governors; and Joseph Chairez, a member of the Board of Governors and a former president of the Orange County Bar Association.

The JNE Investigation Task Force will focus its investigation on the charge that a confidential rating of former state Sen. Charles S. "Chuck" Poochigian was leaked to the public before the nomination of Senator Poochigian was announced. Governor Schwarzenegger later nominated Poochigian to the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno on Aug. 20. The Commission on Judicial Appointments, which acts on appellate court nominees, will consider the appointment Sept. 24.

All JNE proceedings are strictly confidential and the ratings are not to be made public under any circumstances by JNE before any announcement by the Governor.

If the task force determines that a JNE member breached confidentiality, it will report to the JNE commission and the president of the State Bar. If that occurs, the report will include a recommendation whether the Board of Governors should remove the JNE member from the commission and refer the violation for criminal prosecution. If an attorney is determined to be the source of a leak, that attorney may be subject to discipline.

"JNE members take an oath that includes a commitment to keep all evaluations confidential, and JNE members know that any leak of confidentiality is a violation of Government Code Section 12011.5. The essential foundation of JNE is its commitment to confidentiality. Breaching the oath and that foundation is an outrage that undermines the work of the entire Commission" said Miller. "We will follow this wherever it goes," he added.

Poochigian, a Republican, spent 12 years in the legislature, representing the Central Valley. He was appointments secretary to Gov. Pete Wilson and was chief deputy appointments secretary for Gov. George Deukmejian. He was the Republican candidate for California attorney general in 2006.

 

Founded in 1927 by the state legislature, the State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By September 2009, membership reached 223,000.

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