Legal Ethics

90-day suspension, anger management counseling recommended for prominent DUI attorney

Corrected: A State Bar Court judge has recommended a 90-day suspension for prominent Santa Barbara, Calif., lawyer Darryl Genis for zealousness that crossed a line and for repeatedly ignoring a judge’s order to show up in court rather than send an unprepared associate, the Santa Barbara Independent reports.

The opinion by State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn said Genis engaged in “multiple acts of wrongdoing, bad faith, significant harm to the administration of justice, indifference toward rectification or atonement for the consequences of his misconduct and contemptuous attitude” toward a panel of appellate judges, the newspaper reported.

In one instance cited by Judge Honn, Genis went against a trial judge’s repeated warnings in 2012 not to ask two police officers questions, in front of the jury, about allegations that they had perjured themselves in the past.

In another instance cited by the bar court judge, Genis, despite being ordered to appear in court rather than send an associate, instead went to a legal education seminar in New Orleans.

Judge Honn dismissed two other allegations against Genis, including a complaint that he acted in bad faith by threatening to file an action alleging a prosecutor had committed a misdemeanor.

Genis told the newspaper that the judge who admonished him for improperly questioning the police officers in front of the jury had described him as “probably the best DUI lawyer on the Central Coast” and that the district attorney had “gone to extraordinary lengths to muzzle me.”

In addition to recommending the 90-day suspension, Judge Honn would put Genis’ privilege to practice law on probation for two years and order him to get anger management counseling twice a month during that period, the newspaper reported.

Genis has appealed Honn’s ruling, and the appeal will now go to a three-judge panel in the State Bar Court. If that court upholds it, Genis can appeal to the California Supreme Court.

Updated on Feb. 12 to state that Honn’s ruling was a recommendation after the Santa Barbara Independent issued a correction, and to reflect that Genis has appealed Honn’s ruling.

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