STATE BAR COURT RECOMMENDS THREE-YEAR SUSPENSION FOR PROMINENT EX-PROSECUTOR
SAN FRANCISCO, July 23, 2014 – The State Bar Court is recommending a minimum three-year suspension for a prominent attorney based on misconduct he engaged in while prosecuting criminal cases in Washington, D.C.
G. Paul Howes [Bar # 187772] served as an assistant United States attorney in Washington, D.C., from 1984 to 1995, prosecuting major homicides and serving as one of the first five prosecutors on the Drug Homicide Strike Force. His misconduct dates back 20 years, prior to his April 1997 admission to The State Bar of California.
The less serious of Howes’ misconduct occurred in the late 1980s, when he communicated with a defendant in a criminal case without the consent of the defendant’s attorney. The New Mexico Supreme Court publicly censured him for his actions in May 1997. Howes was disciplined in New Mexico because he was admitted to practice law in that state and the Board of Professional Responsibility for the District of Columbia had no jurisdiction over him as a federal prosecutor.
The Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals ultimately disbarred Howes in 2012 for misusing more than $42,000 in federal witness vouchers intended to defray the costs for witnesses who appear in judicial proceedings. Howes instead gave them to individuals not eligible to receive them, including informants’ relatives and girlfriends in high-profile murder and gang cases.
After leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Howes moved to San Diego and went into private practice. He eventually became a partner at Milberg Weiss LLP, later known as Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins. During his time with the firm, he handled litigation on behalf of the University of California as a result of the Enron failure.
Howes resigned from the partnership following his disbarment in Washington, D.C., and now works as an investigator for a law firm in Texas that specializes in asbestos exposure/mesothelioma cases.
In his decision recommending Howes’ suspension, State Bar Court Hearing Judge Donald F. Miles noted Howes’ many charitable activities and insight into his misconduct.
“Although this court finds no basis for recommending that Respondent be disbarred in this state as a result of his misconduct two decades ago in the District of Columbia, the court does conclude that significant discipline is nonetheless required to make clear to all the impropriety of that conduct and to protect the public’s faith in the criminal justice system, both here and throughout the country,” Miles wrote.
If the recommendation is approved by the California Supreme Court, Howes would be suspended for three years and until he proves his rehabilitation, moral fitness to practice and current learning and ability in the law.
The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, protecting the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. Membership now stands at about a quarter million.