Joseph Dunn, a former state senator from Orange County, was ousted as executive director of the State Bar of California but he isn’t letting that go. He has sued the lawyer’s group, saying he was fired because he tried to expose “egregious improprieties” by bar officials, according to the L.A. Times.
Dunn ran the State Bar from 2010 until last week, when he said he was fired without explanation. The bar announced his departure Thursday, shortly before Dunn filed his suit in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Dunn represented central Orange County from 1998 to 2006, and won national acclaim for leading the state senate’s investigation into Enron’s nefarious role in the 2000-2001 energy crisis, according to the OC Weekly.
Dunn’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, said his client is seeking unspecified damages and wants his job back. “Beyond that, we want all the unethical and corrupt activity rectified,” said Geragos, whose past clients have included Michael Jackson, Sen. Ron Calderon, actress Winona Ryder, Modesto politician Gary Condit and convicted killer Scott Peterson, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, the complaint names the bar and the bar’s newly installed president, Craig Holden, as defendants. Shortly after Holden took office in May, says the complaint, he began telling people he wanted “to do something about Dunn,” who had worked as executive director since 2010, according to Courthouse News.
The whistleblower notices, the complaint alleges, warned administrators that Chief Trial Counsel Jayne Kim—hired on Dunn’s watch—was manipulating the agency’s books to conceal a disciplinary backlog, an issue that Dunn had pledged to lawmakers that he would correct when he came on the job. Dunn also says he complained the bar wasn’t doing enough to prosecute non-lawyers performing legal work. And when he raised concerns about Kim’s performance, Dunn said, she filed a complaint against him, resulting in the bar hiring investigators with alleged ties to one of the trustees, according to The Recorder.
Ms. Kim, the lawsuit says, retaliated by filing an internal complaint against Mr. Dunn. The bar then retained an outside firm that billed it $300,000 — at $800 an hour — to conduct an evaluation of Mr. Dunn, according to his complaint, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog.
Here is the complaint itself: Download Sen. Joseph Dunn v. Cal. State Bar – Complaint.
Dunn was one of the founders of the Voice of OC. He tried to move the Federal Court of Appeals from Santa Ana to Irvine but was blocked by Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, who used redevelopment funds to keep the Court of Appeals in Santa Ana. The Voice of OC has been attacking Pulido ever since its founding.