STATE BAR files disciplinary charges against former L.A. CITY attorney for prosecutorial misconduct
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 23, 2017 – The State Bar of California has filed disciplinary charges against a former Los Angeles City Attorney, Carmen A. Trutanich, stemming from alleged prosecutorial misconduct during a death penalty case he handled more than 30 years ago when he was a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County.
Trutanich, 65, [bar #86629], is accused of withholding the true name and address of a witness from the defense and failing to correct false testimony by two of his witnesses in the People v. Barry Glenn Williams, Los Angeles County Superior Court case A623377.
Last year, a federal judge cited prosecutorial misconduct in overturning Williams’ murder conviction and death sentence, which then triggered a review by the State Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel. The bar is notified when a criminal conviction is overturned due to attorney misconduct.
Trutanich, who served as the elected Los Angeles City Attorney from 2009-2013, will have a chance to respond to the charges, which must be proven in State Bar Court and approved by the California Supreme Court before any discipline is imposed.
The State Bar Board of Trustees in October recommended enactment of a proposed new ethics rule regarding the special duties of prosecutors in criminal cases, specifically addressing their responsibility to disclose evidence to the defense. The rule is awaiting approval by the California Supreme Court. The charges against Trutanich are based on existing rules and laws regarding a lawyer’s duty to uphold the law and to not suppress evidence.
The filing of disciplinary charges by the State Bar does not constitute a finding of professional misconduct. Attorney discipline charges are adjudicated in State Bar Court. The California Supreme Court has final authority over all disbarments and suspensions.
The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, protecting the public and seeking to improve the justice system since 1927. All lawyers practicing law in California must be admitted to the State Bar.