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Foreclosure attorney facing loss of law license in California

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POSTED June 21, 2012 8:58 p.m.

 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California lawyer who achieved national notoriety for advising clients to break into and reoccupy their foreclosed homes is facing the loss of his law license, the State Bar of California announced Thursday.

The state bar said it's recommending the disbarment of Michael T. Pines after he refused to participate in the agency's disciplinary proceedings against him. A state bar judge said she would have recommended disbarment even had Pines tried to defend himself.

Pines, 60, didn't return phone and email messages.

Pines has been arrested several times after accompanying clients to their foreclosed homes, sometimes with a locksmith. He has appeared on numerous television programs claiming to a social advocate and maintains that the vast majority of foreclosures are illegal.

In the earlier order, State Bar Court Judge Richard A. Honn said Pines viewed himself "as a modern-day Henry David Thoreau, who encouraged civil disobedience to effect universal societal benefits."

The state bar convicted Pines on 18 separate charges related to three foreclosure cases he handled. In one instance, he returned repeatedly to one foreclosed home with his clients, violating a restraining order obtained by the current owners. In another case, Pines accompanied Hetor Zepeda to Zepeda's foreclosed Newport Beach home. He hired a locksmith, but police arrived before he gained access to the home. Pines then encouraged Zepeda to break a window so police would arrest him and Zepeda could file a lawsuit.

Pines also told Zepeda he had a right to re-claim the home, which was the state bar says is untrue

"He actually put his clients in danger of civil and criminal penalties by encouraging them and helping them to break the law," said state bar prosecutor Brooke Schafer.

His case now goes before the California Supreme Court, which upholds the majority of state bar disbarment recommendations.

The state bar judge said Pines used his clients to gain national attention for himself. He would often invite the media to witness his clients' breaking into their foreclosed homes. The bar temporarily suspended his license last year.

 

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