Northern California Record

Monday, December 9, 2019

Oakland attorney faces suspension, probation after 'reckless failure to perform legal services'

Discipline

By Karen Kidd | Aug 5, 2019

Courthouse

SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) — Oakland attorney Sandra Lynette Smith faces suspension and probation following a July 10 California Supreme Court order for failing to appear in court and "reckless failure to perform legal services with competence", according to a recent State Bar of California announcement and court documents.

The Supreme Court handed down a stayed one-year suspension and a year of conditional probation with the first 30 days spent on suspension. Conditions of Smith's probation include passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination as previously recommended by the California State Bar Court's Hearing Department. She also was ordered to pay costs.

Her discipline will be effective Aug. 9, according to an announcement recently posted on the state bar's website.

Smith was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 8, 1994, according to her profile at the state bar website. She had no prior discipline before the state bar, according to her profile.

Allegations against Smith stem, in part, from her representation of a client in a wrongful termination case against the Alameda County Probation Department, for which she was hired in July 2015, according to the stipulation filed with the state bar court in February. In that matter Smith allegedly failed to timely serve the defendants and to appear at seven scheduled case management conferences, a compliance hearing, and an OSC hearing, according to the stipulation.

She also allegedly "repeatedly failed to perform legal services with competence," to promptly respond to her client's 12 written status inquiries, the stipulation said.

In another matter, Smith allegedly failed to appear at a March 2017 order to show cause hearing in a client's case before Alameda Superior Court, which caused the court to dismiss the client's case. Smith did not learn that the case had been dismissed until the state bar commenced its investigation, according to the stipulation.

"At the time of the misconduct, [Smith] suffered from stress-related symptoms of anxiety and depression due to a stressful and hostile work environment, and she was not receiving the necessary therapy to treat her anxiety and depression," the stipulation said. "Since June 2018, [Smith] has been receiving therapy to deal with her anxiety and depression and has made significant progress, as attested to by her therapist."

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State Bar of CaliforniaCalifornia Supreme CourtState Bar Court of California

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