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Former Director Sues California Bar Association

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The former executive director of the State Bar Association of California has sued the group that certifies state lawyers, claiming he was fired after complaining of ethical breaches by bar officials.

Joe Dunn, a former Democratic state senator from Orange County, led the association from 2010 until last week. He filed a lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court challenging his firing.

Dunn wants his job back, seeks unspecified damages and wants the unethical behavior stopped, his attorney, Mark Geragos, told The Sacramento Bee.

Bar officials did not return a telephone message seeking comment Friday. They previously declined comment on the lawsuit.

The group also disciplines lawyers if they are found to have engaged in illegal or unethical behavior.

Dunn's lawsuit says bar employees altered case backlog reports released to its board of trustees and the public, acting at the direction of Jayne Kim, the bar's chief trial counsel, "to fraudulently inflate the productivity of her office."

It also says bar officials led by Kim failed to target legal fraud that harms immigrants.

The lawsuit claims Dunn faced an improper internal investigation after Kim filed a complaint with the bar's board. It launched a costly inquiry by an outside firm, although a retired Supreme Court justice would have done the work for free, the lawsuit alleges. It further says that the lead investigator had undisclosed ties to one of the trustees who approved the investigation.

Dunn claims that he and others who complained faced discipline and retaliation.

Dunn served in the Senate from 1998 to 2006, ran unsuccessfully for state controller, and served as executive director of the California Medical Association before the state bar hired him.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)



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