LOS ANGELES — Attorney Gerald Howard Sternberger received one year of probation from the State Bar Court of California for failure to meet the required hours for minimum continuing legal education.
Sternberger, whose address on his State Bar profile page is in Hazel Park, Michigan, was first licensed to practice in California in 1980.
Court documents stated that Sternberger, under penalty of perjury, said on Jan. 31, 2014, that he had completed the necessary 25 hours during the compliance period of Feb. 1, 2011, and Jan. 31, 2014. The attorney had not completed any of the hours at the time. Sternberger did not provide any documentation for the hours. The State Bar’s Office of Member Records and Compliance contacted the attorney about his hours on July 7, 2014. Sternberger completed the hours between Oct. 27, 2014, and Oct. 31, 2014.
The State Bar took into account several mitigating factors when determining the severity of Sternberger’s sentence. The attorney has no prior record of discipline since being admitted to the California State Bar following his graduation from the San Fernando Valley College of Law, according to his profile page.
The final mitigating factor in the case, according to court documents, involved Sternberger’s medical condition at the time of his submission of compliance. Sternberger relayed that on May 4, 2012, he suffered an electrocution burn from a heating pad that left him bedridden for an extended period of time. In addition, Sternberger was prescribed several painkillers leaving him dazed and lightheaded, which was directly connected to his lack of documentation for the MCLE about the situation.
During the attorney’s one-year probation, Sternberger 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. Sternberger must set up an appointment with the Office of Probation within the first 30 days of his probation.
The terms of Sternberger’s probation also require him to complete ethics school, although he will not be credited with MCLE hours. Sternberger 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.
Sternberger 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 Sternberger will need to pay the additional fees.
Sternberger has been practicing law for more than 25 years.
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, as well as more about the organization's history, can be found online at calbar.ca.gov.