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Court disbars attorney after stun gun, pepper spray threat

A San Diego attorney who gained notoriety for threatening opposing counsel with a stun gun and pepper spray during a deposition has been disbarred.

DOUGLAS JAMES CRAWFORD [#202274], 53, was stripped of his law license Sept. 23, 2016, after he walked out of the courtroom during his disciplinary trial and did not return. Crawford’s default was entered as a result and because he did not move to have the default set aside, the State Bar filed a petition requesting his disbarment.

The State Bar Court found Crawford culpable of four of the eight charges against him. Crawford engaged in conduct that involved moral turpitude by taking pepper spray and a stun gun to a deposition, threatening to use them on opposing counsel if the deposition "got out of hand" and discharging the stun gun while pointing it toward opposing counsel. Crawford was representing himself and his mother in an action against JPMorgan Chase Bank at the time, and “filed an opposition that was openly contemptuous of the trial court,” according to an unpublished opinion by the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

The trial court granted the bank’s motion for terminating sanctions, which was affirmed by the appellate court. In a petition for rehearing, Crawford repeatedly referred to the court’s justices as the “Granddads of Anarchy,” accused them of being corrupt and referred to the court’s “fecal stained opinion,” the opinion notes.

The appellate court ultimately found Crawford guilty of contempt, fined him $1,000 and referred the matter to the State Bar for investigation.

In addition to moral turpitude, the State Bar Court found that Crawford filed a pleading in the superior court that falsely implied his mother was still alive. Crawford’s mother had, in fact, died more than two months prior, according to court documents.

In addition, the State Bar Court found that Crawford failed to report judicial sanctions totaling $14,500 and violated a court order by not paying two court-ordered sanctions totaling $26,302.