LOS ANGELES — The State Bar Court of California ruled to place
Laguna Beach attorney Phillips Ranta Sweet on one year of probation
for failing to meet the Minimum Continuing Legal Education hours to
keep his license in good standing.
The probation went into effect Nov. 20, according to the State
stated that Sweet, 51, under penalty of perjury, claimed on Jan. 12,
2014, that he had completed the necessary 25 hours during the
compliance period of Feb. 1, 2011, and Jan. 31, 2014. Sweet did not
provide documentation for the hours, which the State Bar Court deemed
“grossly negligent.” The attorney was notified that he would
undergo an MCLE audit on July 7, 2014. The State Bar gave Sweet until
Aug. 21, 2014, to submit proof of his hours.
On Oct. 1, 2014, Sweet contacted the State Bar to tell them he
would need to retake his hours because the laptop that held his proof
of completion had been stolen. The attorney gave the names of several
MCLE course providers that he believed he had used to complete his
hours, but only one of the 25 hours could be confirmed. Court
documents do not indicate if Sweet completed the hours after the
The State Bar Court took into account several mitigating factors
when determining sentencing. In the attorney’s career, he had no
prior record of discipline which the State Bar felt deserved
“significant” mitigation. Also, Sweet brought in six character
witnesses to testify on his behalf including two former colleagues,
a realtor, an accountant, a classic car-maintenance shop owner, and a
friend. Each individual had known Sweet for at least four years.
Sweet was also able to provide proof of his extensive pro bono work
for mitigation. The attorney has lent his services to the setting up
of two nonprofit organizations, helping a small business to
incorporate, and aiding in an elderly dispute.
Lastly, Sweet entered into a pre-filing stipulation to save the
State Bar time and resources.
During Sweet’s one-year probation, the attorney will need to
submit quarterly reports of his business dealings to the Office of
Probation. Any updates to his personal or professional situations
will also need to be provided to the office within 10 business days.
Sweet must take and pass the Multistate Professional
Responsibility Examination. Failure to pass the MPRE or adhere to any
of the terms of his probation will result in a one-year suspension
without hearing. Sweet will be responsible for covering all court
costs, which at the time of sentencing totaled $3,139. The costs are
subject to increase, in which case Sweet will need to pay the
According to Sweet's profile page
on the State Bar website, Sweet was admitted to the Bar in October
Court documents for all State Bar Court of California cases can be
found online at calbar.ca.gov.