With an unclear agenda, demoralized, and a looming election, the State Bar of California Board of Governors now faces the unpleasant prospect of probing one of its own.
The Leslie Brodie Report has learned the Board of Governors ("BOG") has been asked to investigate alleged irregularities surrounding public member Jeannine English and her spouse -- tribal gambling attorney Howard Dickstein.
Ms. Jeannine English, public member of the State Bar of California Board of Governors. Loyal to her name, Ms. English drives BMFQ Aston Martin. Howard Dickstein, discerning and discriminating, is a devotee of Ferraris. Ms. English was named a public member of the State Bar Board of Governors in 2006 by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez.
In addition, the BOG was asked to inquire about a $900,000.00 cy pres award involving Girardi & Keese and the California wing of the AARP, where Ms. English serves as president.
According to confidential sources, State Bar establishment was shocked by the scope and magnitude of the revelations.
The underlying events involve the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians ("Rumsey") which consists of 40 adult members who reside in Brooks, California. Attorney Howard Dickstein, a pioneer in tribal gambling law and the spouse of Ms. English, helped dig the tribe out of poverty. From a fledgling bingo business to what is now a thriving establishment known as "Cache Creek Casino."
In and about 2007, and in addition to the services offered by Mr. Dickstein, Ms. Jeanine English and her company -- Jeanine English & Associates -- were also conducting business with Rumsey, by which lobbying and consulting services were purveyed by Ms. English.
Toward the end of 2007, Rumsey -- represented by Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy -- filed a suit in Yolo County Superior Court against Howard Dickstein and Jane Zerbi of Dickstein & Zerbi and Arlen Opper, a financial consultant, accusing them of unjustly enriching themselves with tribal money by defrauding the tribe of millions of dollars over more than a decade.
Mr. Elliot Peters of Keker & Van Nest. Presently,Peters, along with partners John Keker and Jan Little (spouse of Prof. Rory Little),are in the midst of fighting a RICO suit filed by Chevron against attorney Steven Donziger. Peters also represents Lance Armstrong who demands an on-air apology from "60 Minutes." (photo: courtesy amlawdaily.typepad.com)
In statements to the media, Howard Dickstein referred to the allegations as a "pack of lies," while disparaging his client. Dickstein also stated that he plans to fight the suit and "fight hard." Appearing on behalf of defendant Dickstein was Elliot Peters of Keker & Van Nest.
In addition, and according to the sources, the BOG was also asked to inquire about a plan by which a cy pres amount of $900,000 will be funneled to the AARP of California from a class action in which the law offices of Girardi & Keese serves as counsel. (Attridge v. Visa Case No. CGC-04-436920). Jeanine English serves as the President of the AARP's California branch, and is also involved with the AARP on a national level.
According to the sources, while the sums will not go directly to Ms. English, they will indirectly benefit her vis-a-vis the associated prestige resulting from successful fund raising efforts.
Hence, the sources maintain, the lack of disclosure regarding the proposed cy pres is alarming, especially considering events relating to the State Bar's handling of grave misconduct by Girardi & Keese in the Dole matter, and subsequent events involving Howard Rice's Jerome Falk and Douglas Winthrop.
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