SAN FRANCISCO – The State Bar Court of California ordered attorney John Joseph Vandervoort be publicly reproved in June 2016 for a physical altercation and arrest that occurred on Jan. 13, 2013. This discipline was imposed following Vandervoort’s completion of the Bar’s alternative discipline program (ADP).
In April 2013, Vandervoort signed an agreement with the lawyer’s assistance program to enter the ADP. On May 13, 2013, the State Bar Court’s review department referred Vandervoort’s conviction to the hearing department to hear the matter and make a recommendation for disciplinary action. On Aug. 9, 2013, he submitted a court declaration to establish a connection between his mental health, substance abuse and the charges regarding his misconduct.
A stipulation re facts and conclusions of law was entered into on Oct. 15, 2013. The stipulation established the findings, legal conclusions and mitigating and aggravating circumstances. This included a statement by Vandervoort that, “although his misdemeanor criminal conviction did not involve moral turpitude, they did involve misconduct warranting discipline.” With regard to aggravating factors, he had a prior record of discipline stemming from causing physical harm to two people.
On Dec. 9, 2013, the court issued a confidential statement of alternative dispositions and orders, specifying disciplinary measures that would be taken if Vandervoort completed the ADP and alternative disciplinary measures that would be applied if he did not complete the program.
In formulating fair discipline alternatives, the court considered the parties’ briefs as well as standards and case law, including In the Matter of Jackson (Review Dept. 2003) 4 Cal. State Bar Ct. Rptr. 610.
After agreeing to the court’s proposed alternative dispositions, Vandervoort executed the contract and waiver for participation in the State Bar Court’s ADP and the court accepted his participation in the ADP, which began that day.
As a result of Vandervoort’s completion of ADP, the court imposed the “lower level of discipline” of a public reprimand. In weighing disciplinary options, the court considered Vandervoort’s demonstrated remorse and cooperation with the State Bar, entering into a pretrial stipulation. His completion of the ADP was also positively viewed by the court.
In its report, the court stated that the purpose of attorney disciplinary measures is to protect the public and the courts, to maintain the highest possible standard for attorneys and preserve confidence in the legal profession. The purpose is not to punish the attorney.
With those principles in mind, the court also set forth additional disciplinary measure that required Vandervoort to report any changes in address or phone to appropriate entities, meet with the office of probation to discuss terms and conditions attached to his court-ordered public reproval and provide written quarterly reports to the office of probation. The court also required Vandervoort to provide full disclosure at all times, answering inquiries by the office of probation immediately and truthfully.
As a follow up to the public reproval, Vandervoort had to provide proof to the office of probation that he completed a session of the State Bar ethics school and passed its final exam.