Long Beach attorney disbarred for failing to respond to investigations

By Olivia Olsen | Mar 3, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO -- Long Beach attorney Betsy Anne Stasnell was disbarred by the State Bar Court of California on Dec 14, 2016. 

Her disbarment was the result of her failure to participate in a State Bar investigation into her alleged false claims to have completed the necessary minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) hours required to keep her law license active. The 54-year-old attorney only prior record of discipline was failing to pay bar membership fees.

The misconduct charges originated from Stasnell who, under penalty of perjury, alleged she had completed the necessary 25 MCLE hours during the compliance period of Feb. 1, 2011, and Jan. 31, 2014. Stasnell did not provide documentation for the hours or any further proof that she had indeed completed the education.

 The Office of the Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC) sent notices of disciplinary charges (NDC) to the address Stasnell had on file with the State Bar’s membership records department on June 22, 2015, and July 7, 2015. The attorney failed to respond to either inquiries or reach out to the State Bar in any way. Several further attempts to contact Stasnell via different mediums were made to no avail. 

In the aftermath of the State Bar employing reasonable diligence to contact Stasnell with no response, a default plea was entered into the record. The motion was filed Jan. 25, 2016. A notice of the motion was sent to Stasnell and returned to the State Bar as undeliverabe.

Stasnell had 45 days from the date when the default was entered to request a have it set aside or vacated. No such request was made, and on March 18, 2016, a petition for the attorney’s disbarment was filed. Stasnell again had time to submit requests to counter the disbarment but did not. 

It was recommended by the State Bar Court of California that Stasnell be disbarred due to her negligence and her inability to provide a response to multiple attempts to make contact.

Stasnell will be required to comply with the California Rules of Court Rule 9.20 subsections (a) and (c) in regards to her suspension. The rules require Stasnell to notify all her 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 her disbarment. Stasnell must then file to the clerk of the State Bar Court that she has complied with the provisions of her disbarment.

The attorney will be responsible for covering all court costs. The initial costs are subject to increase, in which case Stasnell will need to pay the additional fees.

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 are online at calbar.ca.gov.

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