Legal Ethics

Lawyer Surrenders License After Bar Says He Left Innocent Client in Jail

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A California lawyer has surrendered his law license after state bar officials accused him of stealing client funds, and in a more serious breach, of allowing a defendant to sit in jail for months even though the lawyer had evidence that would clear him.

William S. Gebbie, a well-known San Bernardino County criminal defense lawyer, has practiced for nearly 40 years in Southern California, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports.

According to a State Bar of California complaints (PDF) stamped Aug. 7 and Dec. 10, Gebbie’s ethical breaches extend through his criminal and family law work. Most of the allegations involve taking fees, then not performing the work.

The Daily Bulletin notes that in the most egregious example, an investigator had provided Gebbie with evidence that a jailed client was innocent. But Gebbie failed to act on it and the man remained in jail for months.

Local lawyers interviewed for the story described Gebbie as a good lawyer, but increasingly harried and “overextended.”

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