SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) – Longtime Los Angeles attorney Joseph Walch faces disbarment by default following a recent California State Bar Court recommendation for allegedly violating probation initially handed down more than a decade ago after debilitating illness prevented him from properly supervising his practice.
Walch allegedly failed to comply with all the conditions of his most recent five-year probation imposed last year that included proof that he was making required minimum monthly restitution payments, according to the nine-page decision and order of involuntary inactive enrollment issued May 15 by the state bar court.
Walch failed to participate in person or via counsel in the proceedings and the state bar's decision and order for disbarment was entered by default. In such cases, in which an attorney fails to participate in a California State Bar disciplinary proceeding despite adequate notice and opportunity, the bar invokes Rule 5.85, which provides the procedure for the state bar to recommend an attorney’s disbarment.
The state bar's entry for default was entered in December.
The state bar's recommendation 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 may request further review within the state bar court.
Walch's recommended discipline was among the dispositions filed by the state bar court's hearing department for May.
Walch was admitted to the bar in California on Jan. 29, 1973, according to his profile at the state bar website.
Walch was placed on probation for the first time in 2001 after he stipulated to misconduct in 13 matters, all of which arose "from his failure to supervise his office," information on his state bar profile said. The state bar, with complaints mounting against the attorney and his practice, brought an action in Los Angeles Superior Court to assume jurisdiction over Walch's law practice, which that court granted in 1997.
In December 2015, Walch's probation was revoked and he was placed on a new five-year stayed suspension and a new five-year probation with conditions, including a two-year actual suspension, to continue until he complied, according to the recommendation.
In April 2017, Walch, then 76, was suspended for five years "and until he provides proof to the state bar court of his rehabilitation, fitness to practice, and present learning and ability in the law," information posted to his state bar website said.