A disciplinary trial in State Bar court should continue today for a Tuolumne County prosecutor charged with misconduct over claims he made during a heated election last summer for a seat on the Yolo County Superior Court bench.
Deputy District Attorney Clint Parish appeared in State Bar court the past two days on “disciplinary charges” against him for an event in 2012, before he worked in Tuolumne County.
State Bar attorneys allege Parish used false and deceptive campaign materials to embellish his support and tar his rival, Judge Dan Maguire, for a judge seat in Yolo County in May 2012.
State Bar rules forbid attorneys from lying about their own qualifications or a political opponent’s, according to the filing.
Judge Pat McElroy is expected to conclude trial today then issue a written ruling and sentencing.
A State Bar spokeswoman said Parish could, if found guilty, face disciplinary actions up to disbarment. However, the prosecutors have offered a punishment of a public reproval, or reprimand, and ethics classes, including passage of the Multi-State Professional Examination, according to his pre-trial statement.
Parish has sought dismissal of the charges, but had previously indicated a willingness to accept a “truly private reproval” with conditions including, but not limited to, additional ethics classes.
Parish cited these defenses in his pre-trial statement:
• The First Amendment protects the political speech alleged in this case.
• A reasonable consumer (voter) would not be misled by statements.
• The courts should not determine what political statements are misleading.
• There were no false statements made with reckless disregard for the truth.
• Parish took reasonable measures to correct any violation.
His pre-trial statement showed he would call seven witnesses that have worked with him — some on the campaign in question, including his wife.
State Bar attorneys allege Parish in May 2012 falsely accused Maguire of being involved in a “sordid case of corporate fraud that involved payments of bribes in Russia” while in private practice in Denver.
Maguire couldn’t be reached for comment, but has told other newspapers that he left that law firm long before the controversy mentioned.
Parish also falsely attacked Maguire’s record as it related to his service as a deputy legal affairs secretary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, before his 2010 appointment to the Yolo bench.
In campaign materials, Parish claimed Maguire helped craft the governor’s 2011 decision to reduce the manslaughter sentence of Estaban Nunez, the son of Schwarzenegger ally and former Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. Maguire has pointed out he was already serving as a judge when that decision was made.
Around the same time, Parish posted on his campaign Website a false claim that he’d been endorsed by the City of Winters Police Department, according to the State Bar filing.
Tuolumne County District Attorney Mike Knowles said his office was aware of the controversy surrounding the election, and was notified by Parish himself.
Knowles said Parish is already doing a respectable job for the office and stood by his decision to hire him, noting the complaints are not about his direct practice of law.
Parish joined the Tuolumne County DA’s Office last fall as a deputy district attorney.
He formerly worked as a deputy prosecutor for the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.
Yolo County representatives declined to comment beyond confirming he’d worked for the county for a decade and left on Nov. 16, 2012.
State Bar records show Parish, a graduate of University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, was licensed to practice in California in 2000. He has no prior disciplinary record.
The Yolo County DA’s Office and County Counsel declined to comment on Parish’s service or the nature of his departure. Online records, however, show he received an “Individual Leadership Award” in 2006 for creating a liaison program with local law enforcement agencies.
Parish couldn’t be reached for comment.