Bach v. State Bar of California

California Supreme Court

805 P.2d 325 (Cal. 1991)

In the extreme case of lack of communication by an attorney, suspension is appropriate.

Relevant Facts

Bach (the defendant) practiced law in California beginning in 1964. In 1984, the defendant was retained by Barbara Hester to assist her with a divorce matter. Hester paid the defendant a $3,000 retainer. Subsequently, the defendant failed to communicate with Hester regarding her case. Hester made numerous phone calls and office visits but was unable to reach the defendant. The defendant alleged that he withdrew from the case, but he never returned the unused portion of his retainer to Hester. As a result, Hester filed a complaint with the State Bar of California (the plaintiff). The California bar sent the defendant two successive letters, inquiring about the failure to communicate alleged by Hester. The defendant did not respond, and the plaintiffs issued a notice to show cause. The defendant denied that he was responsible for the lack of communication. After three days of hearings, a referee determined that the defendant repeatedly failed to communicate with his client and failed to represent her competently. The referee recommended that the defendant be suspended from the practice of law for 12 months but that the suspension be stayed and instead place the defendant on probation. However, the referee recommended that the defendant still serve a suspension of 30 days until he could prove that restitution was made to Hester. The Review Department of the State Bar agreed with the referee’s findings and recommendations. The defendant appealed to the Supreme Court of California.

Issue

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Holding & Reasoning

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Concurrence

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Dissent

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Last updated:

December 2, 2020

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Procedural History

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Citations

805 P.2d 325 (Cal. 1991)