Legal Ethics

Former PD Regains Law License But Loses Bid to Erase Sex-Offender Status re PD Office Client, 16

A former assistant Los Angeles public defender who was criminally convicted in 1998 of sex offenses concerning a 16-year-old he met when she was a client of the PD’s office, although he himself did not represent the teen, regained his law license in 2008.

Chance Xcaliiber Oberstein, now 53, was also successful in winning early termination of probation in 2001, getting his unlawful sexual intercourse, sodomy and oral copulation convictions reduced to misdemeanors in 2003 and having his conviction set aside in 2004. But an Orange County Superior Court judge balked at granting his February 2010 petition for a certificate of rehabilitation that would have put an end to the requirement that he register as a sex offender, and Oberstein’s appeal of that refusal was also unsuccessful, the Orange County Register reports.

Oberstein argued that Judge Thomas Goethals abused his discretion by not granting the certificate, saying that he, Oberstein, had broken no laws since 1996, posed no threat to reoffend and would be hampered in his legal career by having to register as a sex offender. However, a three-judge panel in the state Court of Appeals, 4th District, ruled yesterday in a non-published opinion that Goethals had discretion to refuse the certificate even if he doesn’t think Oberstein will commit any additional crimes.

“Of course, a determination the petitioner poses a continuing threat precludes the court from issuing a certificate of rehabilitation, but the absence of this finding does not require the court to grant the petition,” the panel says. The record presented by Oberstein “merely affords an opportunity for a difference of opinion” and the appellate tribunal “is neither authorized nor warranted in substituting its judgment for the judgment of the trial court.”

Leagle provides a copy of the opinion.

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