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In re Grant

Supreme Court of California

January 23, 2014

In re Gary D. GRANT on Discipline.

Page 470

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 471

Starr Babcock, Richard J. Zanassi, Mark Torres-Gil, San Francisco, Kimberly Anderson and Margaret Warren, Los Angeles, for Petitioner Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar of California.

Gary D. Grant, in pro. per.; Law Offices of Michael G. York and Michael G. York, Newport Beach, for Respondent Gary D. Grant.

[167 Cal.Rptr.3d 402] CORRIGAN, J.

Page 472

In 2009, Gary D. Grant pleaded guilty to felonious possession or control of child pornography. (Pen.Code, § 311.11, subd. (a) (section 311.11(a)); subsequent unlabeled statutory references are to the Penal Code.) The State Bar Court was notified, and a hearing judge determined the conviction involved moral turpitude calling for disbarment. The Review Department concluded, however, that the showing of moral turpitude was not supported by admissible evidence. It recommended that Grant be placed on probation for three years with various conditions, including a two-year period of actual suspension.

[317 P.3d 613] The Chief Trial Counsel requested review to determine whether such an offense involves moral turpitude in every case. (See In re Lesansky (2001) 25 Cal.4th 11, 16, 104 Cal.Rptr.2d 409, 17 P.3d 764( Lesansky ).) We conclude that it does. Accordingly, we reject the Review Department's proposed discipline and disbar Grant from the practice of law.

I. BACKGROUND

Grant was admitted to practice in 1994. In 2008, he was charged with three counts of knowingly possessing or controlling child pornography. (§ 311.11(a).) On April 8, 2009, Grant pleaded guilty to one felony count, admitting in open court that he " willfully, unlawfully and knowingly possessed images of minors under the age of 18 years old exhibiting their genitals for the purpose of sexual stimulation of the viewer." He was placed on probation for three years with various conditions including service of 90 days in jail and lifetime registration as a sex offender. On May 28, 2009, Grant admitted violating probation after adult pornography was found on his computer. On September 28, 2009, Grant again admitted violating probation when he sent text messages for sexual purposes to former girlfriends. Grant was sentenced to serve a total of 183 days in jail for the two probation violations.

Page 473

Initiating State Bar (Bar) proceedings, the Chief Trial Counsel sent a record of Grant's conviction to the Review Department. (Rules Proc. of State Bar, rule 5.341.) The Chief Trial Counsel cited Business and Professions Code section 6102, subdivision (c), which mandates summary disbarment following conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude, and urged the Review Department to " find that possession of child pornography involves moral turpitude per se." [1] (Rules Proc. of State Bar, rule 5.343.) The Review Department rejected the request, concluding instead that a violation of section 311.11(a) " is a crime which may or may not involve moral turpitude." (Italics added.) Accordingly it referred the matter to the Hearing Department for resolution of the question based on the facts of the case.

During a four-day trial, the Bar prosecutor called Amy Wong, a forensic specialist from the High Technology Crime Unit of the Orange County District Attorney's Office. Wong examined items seized from Grant's residence, including three computers and storage media, flagging images of suspected child pornography. Actual images or videos were not received in evidence, but Wong described a number of them. One computer contained a peer-to-peer file-sharing program with a video titled " R@ygold Three Russian PreTeens.mpg." [167 Cal.Rptr.3d 403] The video showed three girls, two of whom were apparently under 14. They were nude below the waist and urinating.

Wong also found images of nude or semi-nude girls apparently under 16 as well as evidence that Grant emailed three individuals an image of two nude girls under 16 " touching themselves in the crotch area." Wong acknowledged on cross-examination that she was " not an expert in identifying the ages of ... children." But from approximately 100 images of potential child pornography seized from Grant's residence, she narrowed down the images to those showing girls whose age she was " comfortable" estimating.

Grant testified in his own defense. He admitted his " sex and love addiction and ... addiction to Internet pornography." He obsessively viewed adult pornography online and estimated that he had accumulated more than 300,000 computer images of adult pornography. He admitted having in his " possession or control" two pornographic images of children, but maintained he did not solicit them. He explained that when he acquired adult pornography by email, he unknowingly received the images of children as well. When he ...


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