Legal Question in Legal Ethics in California

Why does the California State Bar protect lawyers at the expense of the innocent?

A Palm Springs HOA lawyer wrote a Cease and Desist Letter regarding an unofficial Newsletter paid from personal funds. We called it the Independent RG (initials of the condo). The Lawyer stated RG belongs to the Association and we could not use it. Our Articles of Incorporation records the 'RG Home Owners Association'. Ironically, there is a HOA in Bakersfield with the same name filing 'RG Owners Association' because we were first to file. Googling 'RG' cites hundreds of international entities using RG. Can we still use Independent RG Newsletter legally?

Also the Lawyer wrote we must stop fabricating 'news'. We can prove everything we say and the Lawyer never mentioned what was fabricated. The Lawyer actually fabricated what the Board gave her to write. She signed the letter without researching the Articles of Incorporation or listing one 'fabrication'. The responsibility belongs to the signature.

This Cease and Desist letter is in our file and we cannot get it removed. I foresee no apology nor removal even though many believe she is wrong. The State will not take any action against this lawyer nor even mention our complaint to her. Another lawyer stated basically lawyers can get away with whatever they can get away with it's the Ol' Boys clique.

Asked on 7/22/13, 3:55 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Joel Selik

It can be very frustrating when, even though your right, you cannot enforce your rights. The State Bar looks at certain issues, and at the various evidence, and they have to make a determination of what is against the Rules of Professionall Conduct. When there is a complaint against an attorney that represents someone other than the person complaining, there is less likely to be a finding of violation as most duties are to the attorney's clients, not opposing parties.

Yes you can likely continue to use the name, though there may be future problems with that.

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Answered on 7/22/13, 8:34 am

Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

The State Bar is concerned with ethics issues and imposing discipline against attorneys for violating the rules of professional conduct or the state bar act. The fact that an attorney has sent you a cease and desist letter concerning intellectual property rights does not trigger any ethical problems, even if the attorney is wrong.

You have a civil dispute involving copyright, trademark and other intellectual property rights. You don't have an ethical dispute. You're lucky the bar didn't refer you to the DA so that they could prosecute you for filing a frivolous bar complaint.

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Answered on 7/22/13, 9:26 am

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