SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) — Orinda attorney James Edward Kroetch faces disbarment following a State Bar of California recommendation after his 2016 child pornography conviction.
"As set forth below, the crime of which [Kroetch] was convicted involved moral turpitude," said the 13-page decision and order of involuntary inactive enrollment issued March 5 by the state bar court. "In light of this, along with the serious aggravation involved, including multiple acts of wrongdoing, indifference toward rectification/atonement, lack of candor, and the high level of vulnerability of the victims, the court will recommend that the respondent be disbarred."
The state bar's decision is pending final action by the California Supreme Court, 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.
Kroetch's recommended discipline was among the dispositions filed earlier this month by the state bar court's hearing department for March. Kroetch was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 16, 1980, according to his profile at the state bar website.
Kroetch was arrested by the Pleasant Hill Police Department in March 2013 for possession and distribution of child pornography, part of the department's automated Internet sweep at the time, according to the decision and order. The Silicon Valley Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory found more than 9,000 child pornography images and more than 3,000 child pornography videos in his residence.
"The laboratory also determined that [Kroetch] had modified several images wherein [Kroetch] inserted himself into photos depicting sexual acts with children," the decision and order said. "Most of the images involved children very young in age ranging in ages from 1 to 12."
The following August, Kroetch was charged by Contra Costa County Superior Court with felony possession of child pornography, and in September 2014 he was arrested on a similar charge by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.
In January 2016, Kroetch pleaded no contest to misdemeanor possession of child pornography and was sentenced to three years' probation and required to register as a sex offender.
In October 2017, Kroetch was placed on interim suspension following a state bar order issued the previous month "pending final disposition of this proceeding", which was referred to the state bar's hearing department, according to that order.