STATE BAR COURT RECOMMENDS DISBARMENT FOR DEL NORTE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
San Francisco, April 5, 2013 – A State Bar Court hearing judge has recommended disbarment for Del Norte County District Attorney Jon M. Alexander for communicating with a defendant without her attorney's consent, withholding evidence from the defense and acts of moral turpitude.
Following standard procedure, Judge Lucy Armendariz also placed Alexander on involuntary inactive status effective April 7, which means he will not be entitled to practice law. The disbarment does not go into effect until approved by the California Supreme Court.
In her April 4 decision, Judge Armendariz found Alexander [bar # 129207], 64, culpable of communications with a represented party without consent, suppression of evidence contrary to legal obligation and committing acts that involved moral turpitude, corruption or dishonesty. She also noted that Alexander's extensive record of public service did not outweigh his three prior records of discipline and his apparent lack of remorse for the more recent misconduct.
“Although respondent presented an impressive array of good character testimony, attesting to his high standing in the Del Norte County community, the mitigation does not outweigh the substance and nature of his extensive record of prior discipline and the egregiousness of his current misconduct,” the judge wrote. “Respondent's refusal to recognize his misdeeds and the severity he had harmed the administration of justice and the integrity of the legal profession concerns this court.”
Alexander was initially charged with seven counts of misconduct in three matters, although Judge Armendariz ultimately found him culpable of three of the charged counts. Judge Armendariz found that Alexander talked with a defendant privately in his office about her drug case, despite knowing she had an attorney. During the conversation, the woman recanted statements made at the time of her arrest, in which she implicated her co-defendant and admitted to Alexander that the drugs at issue in the case actually belonged to her. Alexander failed to tell defense attorneys about the conversation or share the woman's incriminating statement with the co-defendant's lawyer.
Judge Armendariz cited Alexander's prior discipline record:
- A 1996 private reproval for failing to abide by agreements that were made in lieu of disciplinary prosecution and for two misdemeanors convictions for driving with a suspended license
- A six-month actual suspension in 2003 for failure to return unearned fees and the unauthorized practice of law while he was suspended for not paying his State Bar dues
- A 60-day actual suspension in 2011 for misconduct in four matters, including failure to perform services competently, failure to communicate with clients, engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and engaging in an ex parte communication with a sentencing judge in a criminal case in order to influence the sentence
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 April 2013, membership reached 242,000.