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State Bar Clears Lomax in Leak of Legal Memos

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Attorney Melanie Lomax, the outspoken former president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, did not violate professional legal standards by releasing confidential city legal memos to a civil rights group seeking Chief Daryl F. Gates’ removal from office, an investigation by the State Bar of California has concluded.

In a letter to Lomax’s attorney that was released Tuesday, State Bar special investigator Sarah J. Carson said: “Based on the evidence before us, Ms. Lomax did not violate any rule of professional conduct. Therefore, we are closing our file without prejudice.”

Lomax issued this statement: “Although I knew that I had not done anything wrong in this matter, I am grateful that the State Bar has made it official.”

The finding closes a chapter on Lomax’s central role in the political tempest following the widely publicized police beating of Rodney G. King.

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Lomax, an appointee of Mayor Tom Bradley, became a focal point of controversy after it was disclosed that in April she gave a lawyer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference copies of advisory letters from the city attorney to the Police Commission pertaining to Gates’ suspension and possible removal.

Jay Grodin, an attorney for Gates, called Lomax’s release of in-house memos illegal and unethical and called for her dismissal. Lomax--who initially denied releasing the memos but later acknowledged doing so--argued that she was within her rights.

She resigned from the Police Commission in late July in accordance with recommendations of the independent Christopher Commission that all commissioners resign.

Shortly before stepping down, Lomax disclosed that she had become the subject of a State Bar investigation concerning her release of the memos.

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