LOS ANGELES — Santa Barbara attorney Michael Arthur Pina was
placed on a one-year probation in a ruling handed down by the State
Bar Court of California on Nov. 18, 2016.
According to the State Bar's website,
the probation stemmed from the attorney’s alleged failure to
complete the required 25 hours of minimum continuing legal education.
Pina, under penalty of perjury, relayed to the State Bar in June 2014 that he had completed the necessary hours to maintain his eligibility to practice, according to court documents.
The attorney said he had taken the course hours, which were
supposed to have been completed in the “compliance period”
between February 2011 and January 2014. However, the State Bar’s
investigation into his compliance determined that only 10 hours were
completed during the necessary time frame.
When contacted by the State Bar Members Records and Compliance department, Pina stated that he had submitted the information from memory rather than reviewing his files. The attorney then completed his remaining hours between October and November 2014. However, Pina’s negligence in accurately reporting his hours and his providing of misinformation under perjury necessitated punishment by the State Bar.
Several mitigating factors were taken into consideration before sentencing Pina to probation. According to court documents, Pina was able to provide seven witnesses — four other attorneys, two personal friends and a former professor — to attest to his good character. Pina also submitted proof of the pro bono work he had preformed between 2000 and 2015. Six of the seven witnesses who testified confirmed his pro bono efforts.
Finally, Pina entered into a pretrial stipulation to accept full culpability. The pretrial stipulation prevented a formal hearing which in turn saved the State Bar time and resources. Pina did not have a prior record of discipline since being admitted to the California State Bar in 1991 after graduating from the Santa Clara University School of Law, according to his profile page on the State Bar website.
During the attorney’s one-year probation, Pina must 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. Pina must set up an appointment with the Office of Probation within the first 30 days of his probation.
The terms of Pina’s probation also require him to complete a State Bar Ethics School session, although he will not be credited with MCLE hours. Pina must 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.
Pina will be responsible for covering all court costs, which at the time of sentencing totaled $5,816. The costs are subject to increase, in which case Pina will need to pay the additional fees.