Attorney advised clients to break into foreclosed homes
By ERIC WOLFF - firstname.lastname@example.org
North County Times - The Californian
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011
Carlsbad lawyer Michael T. Pines may not practice law as of Sunday, a State Bar Court judge said Thursday.
Starting in October, Pines began charging a $5,000 upfront retainer to advise clients, including two in Escondido and one in Carlsbad, to break into homes they'd lost to foreclosure. Judges rejected his argument that the foreclosures had been fraudulent, but Pines kept going, getting jailed at least three times and being cited for contempt at least twice.
The decision by Judge Richard Honn is an "involuntary inactive enrollment," a move that prevents Pines from practicing law while the state bar brings formal charges against him that could eventually lead to Pines' disbarment.
In his written decision, Honn said Pines' actions had repeatedly caused financial and emotional damage to homeowners, investors and to Pines' own clients.
"Respondent (Pines) willfully exposed his clients to legal liability, all for his own benefit," Honn wrote, adding later, "Although respondent (Pines) is a seasoned attorney, he seems to have lost his ability to distinguish between zealous advocacy and lawlessness."
The move is the first blot on Pines 24-year-long bar record.
Pines may appeal the decision to the state bar review department, but his license will remain inactive during the appeal.
Pines did not return a call for comment.
Call staff writer Eric Wolff at 760-303-1927.
Attribution: North County Times - The Californian.