|Attorney Gloria Allred, left. (Credit: Irfan Khan, LA Times, September 29, 2010)|
Has Allred crossed the line between acceptable representation of her client and unacceptable violation of California Rules of Professional Conduct, in particular Rule 5-120 governing Trial Publicity?
Rule 5-120, paraphrased, states that:
An attorney shall not make an out of court statement that he or she knows or reasonably should know will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing any trial in the matter.
Click here for the full and exact text of Rule 5-120.
Allred claims to represent Nicky Santillan Diaz, an illegal alien who worked for Meg Whitman as a housekeeper from 2000 until June of 2009, when Diaz confronted Whitman with her undisclosed illegal alien status, and demanded 'help' in becoming legal. Diaz was promptly fired and according to Allred, now claims to have been wrongfully terminated, mistreated and unpaid for hours worked in excess of her 15 hours a week as well as uncompensated for the use of her vehicle in the course of her employment.
Yet the apparent thrust of Allred's seemingly endless media statements seems to be to help fellow democrat Jerry Brown by simply vilifing Whitman. Allred has gone so far as to call Whitman a 'liar' when it comes to having knowledge of the illegal alien status of her housekeeper. Allred has also accused Whitman of hypocrisy over her stance on illegal immigration. Some might believe that Allred has taken the matter far beyond a claim for wrongful dismissal and underpayment, and has abused her position as an attorney to become a campaigner for Jerry Brown.
Attorneys in California are subject to the California Rules of Professional Conduct, and the State Bar of California will investigate, prosecute and discipline attorneys who violate those rules. According to that portion of the State Bar's website on Lawyer Regulation:
"Protecting California's consumers is one of the primary missions of the State Bar of California. This function is principally carried out through the Attorney Discipline System maintained by the Bar, which takes complaints against attorneys from citizens and other sources, investigates those complaints, and prosecutes attorneys against whom allegations of unethical conduct appear to be justified."
Persons who believe an attorney has gone beyond competent representation and is behaving unacceptably, can register their complaints through the State Bar's Attorney Complaint Hotline (800) 943-9053.