Below is the text of my April 7 letter to investigator Kenneth Advincula in response to the announcement by the State of California that my attorney misconduct complaint against University of California senior counsel Michael R. Goldstein was being closed. The full text of the complaint, dated November 18, 2022, is at https://concussioninc.net/?p=15105. My April 12 letter appealing that decision is at https://concussioninc.net/?p=15174. Advincula’s dismissal letter is viewable at http://muchnick.net/statebardismissal.pdf.
April 7, 2023
Re: Michael R. Goldstein, Case No. 22-O-14952
Thank you for your letter of April 4, 2023, announcing the closing of the above-referenced case. By this reply, I am informing you of my intention to avail myself of the mechanism of an appeal to the Complaint Review Unit. The procedures for such action on my part, as explained in your letter, do not require me to give notice of my intention to appeal. However, since the questions that I will proceed to pose to you here obviously will inform my presentation to the Complaint Review Unit, it seemed appropriate for me to be clear about that point.
In the interest of improving both the substance and the transparency of the State Bar disciplinary process in the wake of the high-profile Girardi scandals – which in turn spurred the State Bar’s promise to institute reforms – I am copying this letter to both Ruben Duran, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Sarah Banola, Chair of the Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct.
I do not have “additional information” to present in connection with my dismissed complaint. But I do respectfully request unambiguous answers to the questions below. In a master comment, let me say that I find the selective presentation of facts and argument in your disposition letter to be a sad mirror of the enabling by the justice system of Mr. Goldstein’s blatant, serial, persistent, and redundantly documented lies to courts regarding material facts in a case during representation of a public agency in California Public Records Act (CPRA) litigation.
1. Your letter discusses multiple elements of your investigation – among them, interviews of myself and my attorney Roy Gordet, and review of the court record. Not mentioned is an interview with and/or other solicitations of information from the accused, Mr. Goldstein. If such investigative measures were taken with Mr. Goldstein, then why were they not noted (and will you please note them now?)? If such efforts were not made, then why not?
Comment: You state that “the statements allegedly made by respondent cannot be proven deceitful or as inadvertent mistakes.” This “finding” is self-conclusory and unsupported. Are you trying to say that Mr. Goldstein acknowledged that these were indeed misstatements but averred that they were unintentional and innocent? And that you proceeded to weigh my evidence against Mr. Goldstein’s explanation, and determined that it all added up to a “wash”? It seems elementary that recording Mr. Goldstein’s account of why he told the courts both one thing and its opposite, multiple times across a period of months and years (and in one instance, taking both sides of an emphatically asserted fact in the very same court filing), would be the foundation of a serious investigation as to whether he had been deceitful or simply perpetuated, or at least arguably was only guilty of, “inadvertent mistakes.”
2. Why does your letter “summarize” my allegations with a single example of Mr. Goldstein’s patently contradictory representations to the courts, including in a declaration sworn on penalty of perjury?
Comment: Again, my complaint contained numerous examples. Yours is not a faithful summary of the allegations; it is a bowdlerization, trivialization, and summary dismissal, supported with no evidence of investigation. On a basic level, State Bar Chair Duran’s recent post-Girardi scandal pledge to do a better job, moving forward, of ensuring integrity and restoring public trust requires more thorough consideration of carefully presented plural allegations. In the aggregate, the allegations constitute an unmistakable pattern and, hence, violations of Rules 8.4(c) and (d) of your code.
3. How do you justify, in support of your findings, the statement that I was “unsure why respondent would have made those statements”?
Comment: This aside of the disposition letter seems designed only to impeach my complaint without doing any work on the prima facie theories of why Mr. Goldstein committed what I characterize as perjury. I specifically pointed you to the amicus curiae brief of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the California First Amendment Coalition, which you do not even cite. For the record (and for the edification of the State Bar officials who are being cc’d here), I repeat the key quote from the amici: “By characterizing the Petition here as frivolous, the Regents seek to saddle ordinary requesters who would assert their rights under the CPRA with potentially devastating attorneys’ fees. The threat of such fees, alone, could chill the willingness of members of the public with legitimate claims to pursue litigation to enforce their right to access information – especially in cases presenting close questions of law.” From there, it is not a stretch to ponder the question of whether Mr. Goldstein and the University of California Regents’ effort to have me sanctioned for a “clearly frivolous” action – something without precedent in published CPRA case law – might have served as a motive for Mr. Goldstein’s perjury. Another possible motive? The perjury supported the university’s defense to the requester’s motion for attorney fees by falsely portraying conduct related to obligations to release documents.
I am publishing the full texts of both your disposition letter and this one. The self-serving label “PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL” on your April 4 letter has no force and accomplishes nothing except the attempted shielding of the State Bar from accountability.
Please respond to the questions in bold above in a timely fashion, allowing me to complete the preparation of my presentation to the Complaint Review Unit. I also invite comment from [Ruben Duran, chair of the State Bar board of trustees] and [Sarah Bardola, chair of the State Bar committee on professional responsibility and conduct].