Four attorneys from San Diego County have been judged guilty of misconduct by the State Bar of California and stripped of their licenses to practice law.
Anne Charles, a spokeswoman for the Bar in San Francisco, said Leslie Collins III and Diane Gersten, both of San Diego, and Chula Vista lawyers Stephen S. Gillis and Dennis G. Hedges have been disbarred and may not apply for readmission for five years.
Collins, 39, was disciplined in connection with three separate matters for failing to protect his clients’ rights, refusing to return unearned fees and misrepresenting to clients the status of their cases.
Bar officials said Hedges, 44, abandoned clients in three separate personal-injury matters, failed to return papers and property to them, and gave them inadequate time to obtain new counsel.
Gersten, 47, kept advance fees, closed her office without telling her clients and refused to cooperate with Bar investigators, the Bar alleged.
Gillis, 60, was convicted in U. S. District Court of willfully conspiring to obstruct justice and had been placed on interim suspension by the state Supreme Court, pending the Bar’s investigation of his case.
Disbarment is the most serious discipline the Bar Assn. can impose after it investigates alleged misconduct by an attorney. The action must be approved by the state Supreme Court and is relatively rare. Other disciplinary actions include private or public reproval and suspension.