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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

Lawyer gets reprimand for false bribery charge against Yolo County judge

By Amy Yarbrough
Staff Writer

In a first-of-its-kind case, a Northern California lawyer has been reprimanded for making false statements about a judge during his campaign to unseat him.

On Feb. 5, the Review Department of the State Bar Court publicly reproved Clint Edward Parish, 43, [bar #211982] for falsely accusing his opponent in a June 2012 judicial campaign of being involved in a bribery and corporate fraud scheme.

In finding Parish culpable of violating rule 1-700 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct, the three-judge review panel concluded he made accusations against sitting Yolo County Superior Court Judge Daniel Maguire “with reckless disregard for the truth.” In doing so, the panel disagreed with a hearing judge’s recommendation that Parish receive a lesser order of admonition.

“Instead, we find Parish’s reckless statement implicating a judge with bribery requires public discipline to maintain the integrity of the legal profession and to preserve public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary,” the panel wrote.

Parish, who now practices in Sonora, was a Yolo County prosecutor when he ran against Maguire with the assistance of adviser Kirby Wells and two political consultants. In March 2012, the campaign began preparing two mailers targeting Maguire, who had worked as a deputy legal affairs secretary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger until the governor appointed him to the bench in 2010.

Among other dubious claims, one of the mailers accused Maguire of being involved in a “sordid case of corporate fraud that involved the payment of bribes in Russia.” The court said Parish could have easily determined the claim false before sending the mailer. As a result of his misstep, Parish’s key supporters withdrew support for his campaign, and Parish stopped actively campaigning and fundraising. He was solidly defeated, receiving only 23 percent of the vote.

In making its decision to publicly reprove Parish, the panel noted his remorse and recognition for his wrongdoing and the apology he made to Maguire during his discipline trial.

“We are cognizant that Parish has already paid a heavy professional price for the campaign mailer, and that his misconduct was neither malicious nor intentional,” the panel wrote, noting that his misconduct was unlikely to occur.

“Even so, Parish’s reckless decision to implicate Judge Maguire in bribery and corporate fraud warrants public discipline,” it wrote.

Although the Review Department issued its opinion early last month, either side has 60 days to appeal it to the California Supreme Court.