SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) — Once-disbarred former assistant U.S. attorney G. Paul Howes, disciplined over alleged ethical misconduct as federal prosecutor in prominent cases during the 1980s and 1990s, is again fit to practice law in California, according to a recent decision.
The California State Bar Court conditionally granted Howes' petition for relief from actual suspension, according to the 19-page decision granting petition for relief from actual suspension issued June 14 by the state bar court. "Just as the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia concluded in 2017 that [Howes] is fit to return to the practice of law, this court also now concludes that [Howes] should be restored to active status as an attorney entitled to practice law in this state," the decision said.
"More specifically, this court finds that [Howes] has demonstrated to the satisfaction of this court his rehabilitation, fitness to practice, and present learning and ability in the general law."
Howes was admitted to the bar in California on April 9, 1997, according to his profile at the state bar website, two years after he left the U.S. Attorney's Office in 1995 and "became a prominent trial attorney, who has built a nation-wide reputation as a top securities class action lawyer," the decision said. "There is no evidence of any misconduct by him after 1995."
In January 2015, the California Supreme Court handed down a stayed five-year suspension and five years' conditional probation with three years of actual suspension, according to the decision. The Supreme Court's action followed allegations that Howes, as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, misused about $42,000 in vouchers.
Howes' "egregious conduct" led to "the substantial reduction of sentences for at least nine convicted felons", according to the appeals court's decision at the time.
The state bar's more recent 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 can request further review within the state bar court.
Howes' recommended discipline was among the dispositions filed earlier this month by the state bar court's hearing department for June.