Northern California Record

Thursday, February 27, 2020

State bar court denies reinstatement of former attorney, convicted murderer


By Karen Kidd | Jul 3, 2018

General court 06

SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) — The California State Bar Court has denied a reinstatement request by former Los Angeles attorney and convicted murderer Stephen Liebb, saying he hasn't yet shown enough good conduct to warrant readmission.  

"[Liebb] killed his friend in 1981 and spent 32 years in prison," said the 27-page decision issued by the state bar court June 13. "Evidence of his rehabilitation is most compelling and impressive. He has taken responsibility for his life and past misconduct. He has resurrected himself into a trustworthy, law-abiding and conscientious member of the community. But because [Liebb] was discharged from supervised release only in November 2016, his sustained exemplary conduct of less than two years is not a meaningful period of time. Therefore, [Liebb]'s request for reinstatement to the practice of law is denied at this time."

Denial of Liebb's petition for reinstatement was among the dispositions filed earlier this month by the state bar court's hearing department for June.  

Liebb was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 16, 1980, according to his profile at the State Bar of California website. "A few months later, in July 1981, he committed a murder," the decision said.

In September 1982 Liebb was convicted of first degree murder in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Diller and of aggravated assault in an attack on another man and was sentenced to a total of 26 years to life with possibility of parole, according to the decision. While his conviction was on appeal, Liebb was placed on interim suspension in January 1983, he went to prison the following month and in December 1988 he submitted his resignation with charges pending, which the high court accepted in February 1989. 

Liebb has been "violence free" since 1989 and received psychological therapy for his anger management issues, participated in "all the available rehabilitative resources", including yoga and assisting prisoners with legal filings, while in prison. "His progress has been intense and steady," the decision said.

Although praising Liebb for his behavior since his release from prison in October 2013, the decision said it remains too soon to reinstate him to practice law in California. "The burden of proof to show rehabilitation is indeed very heavy," the decision said.

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