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Da Files Complaint Against Lawyer of Family Who Broke Into Home

23 February, 2011

The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office has filed a complaint with the State Bar of California against the lawyer who counseled a Simi Valley family to break into their foreclosed home in October.

Encinitas attorney Michael T. Pines said Wednesday that the DA filed a complaint against him a few weeks ago and he will meet with bar investigators the second week in January. He suggested, however, that investigators are more interested in getting his help on cases against other attorneys.

“They are very uncertain what to do because they are paralyzed and in crisis because they’re flooded with complaints,” Pines said.

Miles Weiss, head of the DA’s real estate unit, declined to comment about the complaint. California Bar spokeswoman Diane Curtis could not be reached for comment.

Depending on how State Bar investigators proceed, Pines could lose his license to practice law in California.

He also faces potential imprisonment and fines in a contempt proceeding that began Wednesday and will continue Jan. 4 before Ventura County Superior Court Judge Barbara Lane.

The contempt case was filed by Thousand Oaks-based Conejo Capital Partners, the investors that purchased the home after Jim and Danielle Earl lost it to foreclosure. The Earls claim Conejo Capital does not own the home because it bought it from a string of lenders who created faulty documents.

Conejo’s lawyer, Gordon Bosserman, told the court about the hoops that Pines and the Earls have put his client through — filing numerous suits in federal, state, bankruptcy and appellate courts. “My client has had to pay for all of this simply because they bought that property,” he told Lane.

The Earls are also being sued for contempt but did not attend the Wednesday hearing.

Lane did not rule on the contempt action. Instead, she heard testimony and asked attorneys for Conejo Capital to prepare and submit for the Jan. 4 proceeding a detailed proposed order capable of standing up on appeal, pointing out that contempt cases are often overturned.

It’s been almost two months since Pines helped the Earls break into their foreclosed home in the 5000 block of Mustang Drive in Simi. The family was later evicted.

On Nov. 30, Pines sent a letter to Simi Valley police threatening to break in again on Dec. 1, but Bosserman said Pines couldn’t get a locksmith so he didn’t do it.

Early this month, Pines filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Earls, which sought a restraining order to stop the new owners from selling or renting the house.

But the judge refused to grant an emergency restraining order and reminded Pines that since the Earls have a pending state court proceeding, it would not be appropriate for the federal court to intervene.

“We are required to respect the state court proceedings,” the judge wrote.

The federal case seeks class-action status and names Conejo Capital and the real estate companies and lenders involved with the foreclosure and eviction. It also names the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department for assisting with what Pines calls a “fraudulent, deceptive and abusive eviction.”

Personal Loan

by Kate Waylen

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