Huntington Beach attorney Michael Vance Wright was disbarred on Jan. 6, 2017, by the State Bar Court of California. The decision to recommend the disbarment of the Orange County attorney stemmed from several counts of misconduct in one client matter in which Wright misappropriated nearly $100,000 of his client’s funds.
According to the State Bar, Wright was involved in an escrow agreement in 2014 between a Nigerian company’s CEO and an investment company. The CEO deposited $100,000 into a client trust account to help the investment company obtain a $5 million line of credit. Wright allegedly misappropriated $96,500 of the funds by transferring them directly to the investment company and kept the additional $3,500 for himself in escrow fees without helping the investment company receive its line of credit. The attorney disregarded many safeguards put into place for transferring the funds.
In addition, Wright allegedly did not inform the CEO of his actions and on multiple occasions provided her with excuses as to why the investment company did not receive its line of credit and why her funds had not been returned. As of Jan. 6, the CEO still has not been reimbursed, though the disciplinary ruling states that $100,000 in restitution must be made by the attorney.
Wright will be required to comply with the California Rules of Court Rule 9.20 subsections (a) and (c) in regard to his disbarment. The rules require Wright to notify all of his clients of the ruling, deliver any papers necessary to clients in regard to their cases, return any fees that remain unearned and alert opposing counsel in any pending litigation of his disbarment. Wright must then file with the Clerk of the State Bar Court that he has complied with the provisions of his disbarment.
The California State Bar was established in 1927 by the state’s legislature and is governed by 19 trustees. The State Bar Court added appointed full-time judges in 1989. Court documents for all State Bar Court of California cases can be located online at calbar.ca.gov.