Lawyer is disbarred after email falsely claims he is dead

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A California lawyer has been disbarred after someone used his email address to inform ethics regulators that he had died.

The California Supreme Court approved the disbarment of Donald Martin Stone last month and the order became final Oct. 1.

Reuters has the story.

The email was sent to a deputy trial counsel investigating Stone in response to an out-of-office automatic reply.

“I saw this and don’t know what it is,” the unsigned September 2021 email said. “Donald passed months ago.”

A state bar investigator said in a declaration that she visited Stone’s home at a new address to confirm whether he had died. A man answered the door and identified himself as Stone but declined to answer other questions.

The state bar had sought to discipline Stone for failing to disclose his no-contest plea to a petty theft misdemeanor for stealing from a Los Angeles Sears store in 1995, according to the state bar’s July 2021 amended statement of facts. The no-contest plea was set aside and vacated after Stone successfully completed probation, the document said.

Stone missed four bar court appearances, including his ethics trial, the bar said, according to the amended statement of facts. The bar sought disbarment for failure to appear and failure to seek to set aside the default judgment.

Stone had told the bar in May 2020 that he was retired from law practice and had asked that the disciplinary case be dismissed.

The phone number listed for Stone in state bar records is no longer working.

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