Lafayette attorney Diddo Ruth Clark, practicing in California for almost 40 years, faces suspension and probation following a California State Bar recommendation over three counts of professional misconduct stemming from "discord" in her family.
The California State Bar Court recommended Clark receive a stayed one-year suspension and be placed on a year of probation with 60 days of actual suspension, according to the 18-page decision issued Dec. 20 by the state bar court.
Clark was charged with appearing for a party without authority, seeking to mislead a judge, and falsely misrepresenting herself in pleadings submitted to an appellate court, according to the decision. The court dismissed two of the allegations, according to the decision.
The state bar's decision is pending final action by the California Supreme Court, and either an appeal before the state bar's review department or expiration of time in which parties can request further review within the state bar court.
The state bar's decision is pending final action by the California Supreme Court. Contributed image
Clark's recommended discipline was among the dispositions filed last month by the state bar court's hearing department for December. Clark was admitted to the California bar June 23, 1978, according to her profile at the state bar website.
Allegations against Clark stemmed from year of "significant hostility, antagonism and conflict" with Clark and her brother Peter Clark on one side and their four siblings on the other, according to the decision. "The family discord involved a variety of issues including management and administration of family trusts, partnerships and LLCs," the decision said. "The antagonism has led to more than a dozen lawsuits filed by and between the Clark siblings."
One of the cases involved years of cross filing in Contra Costa County Superior Court and in which Clark, from Oct. 26, 2015, to Sept. 2, 2016, "willfully and without authority" appeared as an attorney for her brother, according to the decision.
The court also found "no clear and convincing evidence that [Clark] sought to mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement" and that she was not culpable for appearing for her brother without authority, the decision said.
"There was no dishonesty, fraud or otherwise wrongful intent in [Clark]'s representations to the court that she was Peter's attorney," the decision said.