Northern California Record

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

San Diego attorney faces suspension, probation for alleged failing to cooperate in pending state bar investigation

Attorneys & Judges

By Karen Kidd | Aug 15, 2019


SAN FRANCISCO – San Diego attorney Isileli Tupou Manaia Mataele faces suspension and probation following a July 17 California Supreme Court order for allegedly failing to cooperate and participate in a pending investigation, 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 60 days spent on suspension. Conditions of Mataele's probation include passing the multistate professional responsibility examination as previously recommended by the California State Bar Court's Hearing Department.

Mataele also was ordered to pay costs.

Mataele's discipline will be effective Aug. 16, according to an announcement recently posted on the state bar's website.

Mataele was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 1, 2009, according to his profile at the state bar website.  

Allegations against Mataele stem from a state bar investigation that apparently began about a year ago, according to the stipulation filed with the state bar court in April.

In August of last year, a state bar investigator mailed a letter of inquiry to Mataele, asking he submit a written response to allegations against him.

The stipulation did not describe the allegations against Mataele that the state bar was investigating.

Mataele received the letter but failed to respond by the Aug. 28 deadline, according to the stipulation.

Mataele did speak with the investigator over the phone but otherwise failed to participate and cooperate in the investigation, according to the stipulation.

Mataele's alleged failure to respond to four state bar emails and failing to cooperate and participate in a disciplinary investigation pending against his is a "willful violation" of professional conduct rules, the stipulation said.

Mataele also has a prior record of discipline, which was considered an aggravating factor in the more-recent disciplinary proceedings, according to the stipulation. In that discipline, effective in November 2014, Mataele received a stayed one-year suspension, and a year of conditional probation and 30 days' actual suspension for misconduct that allegedly occurred in 2012.

In that misconduct, Mataele stipulated to failure to comply with count orders to pay a total of $5,250 in judicial sanctions and to report those sanctions to the state bar, according to the stipulation.

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California Supreme Court State Bar Court of California State Bar of California

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