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Standing Committee on Discipline v. Olivas

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


November 16, 2009

STANDING COMMITTEE ON DISCIPLINE, PETITIONER,
v.
CHRISTIAN DE OLIVAS, RESPONDENT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara L. Major United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER FOLLOWING HEARING

On October 5, 2009, this Court issued an order setting a telephonic case management conference for October 14, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. Doc. No. 20. At the designated time on October 14, 2009, this Court convened the scheduled conference. William E. Grauer of Cooley Godward Kronish, LLP and Daniel Eaton of Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek appeared on behalf of the Discipline Committee. Respondent Christian De Olivas did not participate in the conference. The Court therefore ordered Mr. De Olivas to appear in person to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed. Doc. No. 22. The Court also set a status hearing regarding Mr. De Olivas' compliance with the September 24, 2008 settlement agreement he entered into with the Discipline Committee. Id. The hearing on the above matters was scheduled for November 10, 2009 at 2:00 p.m.

In advance of the hearing, Mr. De Olivas filed a declaration regarding the imposition of sanctions in which he stated that "he did not receive notice of [the telephonic case management] conference." Doc. No. 23. He also filed a declaration attesting to his compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement. Doc. No. 24. Thereafter, the Discipline Committee filed a response to Mr. De Olivas' declarations. Doc. No. 27. The Discipline Committee expressed serious concerns about Mr. De Olivas' communication systems and his readiness to return to practice in the Southern District of California. Id. Accordingly, it made the following recommendations to the Court:

1. Extend the suspension for an additional six months, to end March 24, 2010;

2. During the extended period of suspension, require Mr. De Olivas to attend in-person an additional 15 hours of live MCLE programing in legal ethics, with monthly reports of his progress sent to the Committee via Mr. Eaton;

3. Impose and extend the terms of the Probationary Period set forth in paragraphs 4 and 5 of the September 24, 2008 order to a period of one year, beginning March 24, 2010;

4. Require that Mr. De Olivas establish and maintain at least two functional means of receiving communication at his law office;

5. Continue to retain jurisdiction over this matter; and 6. Such other relief that this Court may deem proper if it determines that Mr. De Olivas misrepresented the status of his competition of the MCLE requirements of the suspension order.

On November 10, 2009, the Court held a hearing on the above matters. Mr. Eaton appeared on behalf of the Discipline Committee and Mr. De Olivas appeared on behalf of himself. At the hearing, Mr. De Olivas affirmed that he never received notice of the October 14, 2009 telephonic case management conference. The Court accepts Mr. De Olivas' representations and DECLINES to impose sanctions for his failure to attend the October 14, 2009 status hearing. However, because Mr. De Olivas acknowledged continuing problems with his electronic communication systems, the Court ORDERS Mr. De Olivas to investigate the reasons behind this and to file a declaration on or before November 17, detailing his investigation and the actions he has taken to ensure that future electronic correspondence will be received.

With respect to compliance with the settlement agreement, Mr. De Olivas reiterated that he fully complied with the terms of the settlement agreement. He also explained that he used his laptop computer at work to take the on-line CLE courses. The Discipline Committee did not present contradictory evidence but continued to express its concern regarding whether Mr. De Olivas complied with the letter, and spirit, of the settlement agreement. To verify Mr. De Olivas' compliance, the Court ORDERS Mr. De Olivas to obtain all the available information from the MCLE class provider regarding the CLE classes he completed, including the start and completion times for each course, and to file a declaration explaining and attaching the results on or before November 17, 2009. In this declaration or an accompanying brief, Mr. Olivas also may present any arguments or information in response to the Discipline Committee's recommended sanctions. The Discipline Committee may file a response on or before December 1, 2009. Mr. De Olivas may file a reply to the Discipline Committee's response on or before December 8, 2009. A hearing will be held on December 14, at 2:00 p.m. before the Honorable Barbara L. Major in Courtroom H. Mr. De Olivas and counsel for the Discipline Committee must appear in person.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20091116

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