Local Government

State Bar Announces 23 Attorneys Disbarred in the Third Quarter of 2023

The State Bar of California announced today the disbarment of 23 attorneys in the third quarter of 2023, including one who fired a gun in the direction of a bar patron, another who misappropriated more than $609,000 from his clients and lied to a judge, and another who forged clients’ signatures on settlement checks.

Along with the disbarred attorneys, 40 other attorneys were put on probation with stayed or actual suspensions following Notices of Disciplinary Charges (NDCs) or stipulations to discipline filed by the Office of Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC).

While California law requires the State Bar to report discipline statistics to the Legislature on a fiscal year basis (see the Annual Discipline Report for more), the State Bar also reports calendar year statistics for the public’s benefit.

Los Angeles

The top offender in Los Angeles is attorney Brett Deforest Maxfield (SBN 208161), who was disbarred following a felony conviction after he harassed a bouncer and fired a gun in the direction of a patron outside a Hollywood bar.

Court records show that on the night of January 29, 2020, Maxfield attempted to enter the Hotel Café in Hollywood. He verbally harassed the bouncer for approximately an hour, but the bouncer refused to allow him to enter the venue. One patron told Maxfield to stop harassing the bouncer. In response, Maxfield drew a .38 caliber revolver from his pocket and fired three to four rounds in the patron’s direction. Maxfield then left the area. Police responded to the shots fired and located Maxfield. He reportedly told police that he drew his firearm on the patron and intended that the first shot ricochet off the ground and strike the patron.

Maxfield pleaded no contest to felony assault with a firearm in Los Angeles County Superior Court on March 23, 2020, and was sentenced to three years’ probation. He was summarily disbarred, effective August 26, 2023.

Orange County

Top offender in Irvine 

Shawn Michael Dickerson (SBN 256012) of Irvine was disbarred for his actions in multiple cases, including misappropriating more than $609,000 from several clients, lying to a judge, and other misconduct.

In December 2015, Dickerson was hired by two trustees overseeing a 2008 living trust for a married couple. They needed legal assistance regarding concerns surrounding the surviving spouse, including the need to provide for her care. In September and December 2016, Dickerson received and deposited in his client trust account (CTA) more than $436,000 that belonged to the trust (mostly proceeds from two property sales). By January 2018, Dickerson had misappropriated the $436,000 by withdrawing the funds for his personal use. All the while, Dickerson kept details about the account concealed from his clients and ignored multiple client requests for an accounting of the funds. Dickerson also lied to a judge in May 2016 when he said that his CTA still held “around $260,000” in trust assets when, at the time, he knew that his CTA held less than $82,000.

In a separate divorce settlement case in 2015, Dickerson received nearly $189,000 on his client’s and his ex-wife’s behalf and placed those funds in a trust account. Over a year’s time, Dickerson fully depleted the account by disbursing funds to himself for his fees and costs, misappropriating approximately $173,000. Dickerson never informed his client that he received the funds, and his client did not receive any of that money.

Dickerson entered into a stipulation setting out the facts of the case and conclusions of law in place of a discipline hearing. For the acts above and dozens of other acts of misconduct, he was disbarred and ordered to pay his clients $609,747 plus 10 percent interest in the abovementioned cases. His disbarment was effective August 26, 2023.

Top offender in La Jolla

Raymond David Mortier (SBN 163120) of La Jolla was disbarred after being found culpable of 44 acts of misconduct involving at least seven clients. Mortier’s ethics violations include a case where a client hired Mortier in a bankruptcy matter. The client sold his home and entrusted $161,000 from that sale to Mortier to oversee his CTA. Though Mortier periodically disbursed the funds at the client’s request, he grossly misrepresented the balance remaining in the trust, including telling his client in February 2019 that he had more than $77,000 left in the trust when the balance was $410. Mortier closed the CTA without informing his client of the balance and dismissed and evaded his client’s in-person demand that Mortier pay him his outstanding balance. Other misconduct for which Mortier was found culpable included forging the signatures of two separate clients on settlement checks totaling $67,000 without their permission or knowledge. Mortier also failed to inform multiple clients, including one who hired him to avoid a home foreclosure. Mortier didn’t share with his client the expiration of a required eviction date until 24 hours prior, despite Mortier having almost six months advance notice of the date.

Mortier was ordered to pay more than $51,000 plus 10 percent annual interest to the client in the bankruptcy matter as part of his disbarment. His disbarment went into effect on July 29, 2023.

Top offender in Long Beach

Jackie P. Ferrari (SBN 276560) of Long Beach was disbarred following her June 24, 2019, conviction by the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, after pleading guilty to one count of distribution of oxycodone, a Schedule II drug. Following an accidental fentanyl overdose of an unnamed 22-year-old woman that resulted in her death, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) opened an investigation. The DEA learned that the victim had communicated with Ferrari, arranging the sale of drugs shortly before she died. Though the victim likely received the drug from someone other than Ferrari, the DEA discovered that Ferrari had been selling oxycodone pills on Craigslist, using coded names such as “foxy roxy dolls.” Ferrari failed to file a timely response to the Notice of Hearing on Conviction and was disbarred effective September 30, 2023.

You can search for State Bar Court records and documents related to attorney discipline matters using the court’s Case Search feature. Input either the case number (you must add SBC to recent case numbers) or the attorney’s name (last, first, and middle).

Attorney discipline matters are investigated and prosecuted by the State Bar’s OCTC, acting on behalf of the public. An NDC contains only allegations of professional misconduct. The attorney is presumed innocent of the allegations unless the State Bar Court finds the attorney culpable by clear and convincing evidence.

The State Bar Court oversees disciplinary proceedings and adjudicates charges filed by OCTC. The State Bar Court rules on whether an attorney has committed professional misconduct and may recommend that an attorney be suspended or disbarred. The State Bar Court’s recommendation is transmitted to the California Supreme Court, which determines whether to impose the recommended discipline. See rule 9.18, California Rules of Court.

Summaries of discipline imposed on attorneys, including disbarments, suspensions, probation orders, and public reprovals, are available on the State Bar’s website, as well as on its interactive discipline statistics webpage.

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