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Bach v. State Bar of California

Supreme Court of California
805 P.2d 325 (1991)


Facts

John Nicholas Bach (defendant) practiced law in California beginning in 1964. In 1984, Bach was retained by Barbara Hester to assist her with a divorce. Hester paid Bach a $3,000 retainer. Bach failed to communicate with Hester regarding her case. Hester made numerous telephone calls and office visits but was unable to reach Bach. Bach alleged that he withdrew from case, but he never returned the unused portion of her retainer to Hester. Hester complained to the State Bar of California (plaintiff). The California bar sent Bach two successive letters, inquiring about the failure to communicate alleged by Hester. Bach failed to respond. Bach was issued a notice to show cause. Bach denied that he was responsible for the lack of communication. After three days of hearings, a referee determined that Bach had repeatedly failed to communicate with his client and represent her competently. The referee recommended that Bach be suspended from the practice of law for 12 months but that the suspension be stayed and Bach instead placed on probation. However, the referee recommended that Bach still serve a suspension of 30 days until Bach could prove that restitution was made to Hester. The Review Department of the State Bar agreed with the referee’s findings and disciplinary recommendations. Bach appealed the disciplinary recommendations to the Supreme Court of California.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per Curiam)

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