R. Scott Moxley in November shared the story of “The Real Squatters of OC,” a couple who moved into a foreclosed, gate-guarded Newport Coast home without permission.
The Duncans worked through a Newport Beach attorney to stay inside as long as they could–before eventually getting arrested, as an update to that cover feature disclosed.
Now, a different attorney is facing disbarment proceedings for advising clients to break into foreclosed homes and start living there again, including a 72-year-old man who was arrested in October after using a hammer to smash a window of his former five-bedroom, 4,400-square-foot home in Crystal Cove.
Metropolitan News Service has the scoop.
Attorney Michael T. Pines, 59, of Carlsbad, “has shown
complete disrespect for the law, the courts and especially the best interests
of his clients,” which necessitates his removal from active practice, according to the State Bar's Chief Trial Counsel
Pines has maintained foreclosures are illegal, so his clients have a
right to repossession since they are still the legal owners of the homes. But, after reviewing their cases, the bar's Deputy Trial Counsel Brooke Schafer concluded Pines' clients in Corona del Mar, Carlsbad and Simi Valley did not have a legal right to move back into their foreclosed homes.
“He is harming both his
clients and the public by advising clients to take the law into their own
hands, and he uses his law license as a weapon,” Schafer wrote in documents supporting disbarment. “By his behavior, actions and
freely offered statements, he is a clear–and ongoing–danger both to his clients
and to the public.”
Pines gave police warning of what his client was about to do outside the Crystal Cove abode before spending five hours keeping “approximately seven police officers and an assistant city attorney wrapped up
in his media circus,” Schafer added.
The attorney was cited for contempt as well as criminally cited three times in
less than a week, according to the bar.
This is, of course, unfamiliar territory for the State Bar, which generally protects its own. But in this instance, just think of how many of its attorneys own properties and represent those doing the foreclosing.