LOS ANGELES — David Wyser, a former deputy prosecutor in Reno, Nevada, was disbarred by the State Bar Court of California on Nov. 4.
The attorney, who obtained his law degree from the San Fernando Valley College of Law, pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe on July 2, 2013, a felony conviction.
According to an Indy Star news report, Wyser accepted a campaign donation from Harrison Epperly, the father of Paula Willoughby who was convicted in orchestrating the murder of her husband 18 years prior. The sentence handed down in her conviction in 1992 initially called for 110 years in prison, but was reduced to 70 years in 1996.
The attorney claimed that he had previously decided to approve the sentence modification in 2006, but would wait until she had served the minimum sentence for murder in the state. Willoughby achieved the minimum in 2009 while Wyser was campaigning for re-election as the Republican nominee for prosecutor of Hamilton County.
Epperly’s $2,500 donation during the campaign was viewed by court officials as a “reward” for Willoughby’s early release. The court originally sought to sentence Wyser to 15 to 21 months in prison, but reduced the time to three years of probation including six months of house arrest.
The State Bar Court of California filed to suspend Wyser on an interim basis on May 3, 2016. The suspension went into effect on June 20. Court documents outline that Wyser had violated Title 18 of the United States Code section 666 (a)(1)(B) for accepting a bribe which is a felony involving “moral turpitude.”
A separate motion was filed for permanent disbarment in Los Angeles County on June 3, 2016. The order was approved and signed by court administrator Rosalie Ruiz. No hearing was held for the attorney’s disbarment, as the Business and Professional Code of California states that an attorney is not entitled to a hearing when disbarment is mandatory. The determination of mandatory disbarment was made in consideration of factors involving Wyser’s felony conviction and moral turpitude.
Court documents also state that Wyser must comply with the California Rules of Court Rule 9.20 subsections (a) and (c). Wyser will be required to notify all of his clients of the ruling, deliver any papers necessary to clients in regards to their cases, return any fees that remain unearned, and alert opposing counsel in any pending litigation of his disbarment. Wyser must then file with the clerk of the state bar court that he has complied with the provisions of his disbarment.
Wyser was licensed to practice both in Nevada and California.
The State Bar of California was established in 1927 by the state’s legislature and is governed by 19 trustees. The court added appointed full-time judges in 1989. Court documents for all State Bar Court of California cases can be found online at calbar.ca.gov.