Amid swirls of disciplinary charges, put forth by the California State Bar against our DA, and questions of possible misuse of public funds in hiring George Mavris’ brother at $125/hour (and the Board of Supervisors approving $100,000 in payment so far), members of the community wonder if Jon should just resign.
We know Jon is a fighter. Beating Meth versus beating the State Bar may be his Waterloo. Jon is not a draftee when it comes to fighting an uphill battle. He overcame a meth addiction that nearly ended his life, pulling himself out of a pit of despair and winning back his career as a respected attorney. That all hangs in the balance as Alexander faces yet another round of fire from the California State Bar.
Jon has declared war on the State Bar. However, his continuing failure to recognize the importance of ethical obligations is bearing down on him like a soldier looking down the barrel of a rifle. The battle Alexander has found himself embroiled in is epic in proportion. Alexander stands to lose more than his license to practice law. His elected position, his reputation and his notoriety as the “Comeback” lawyer are all at stake.
A District Attorney enjoys powers beyond that of other practicing attorneys. He has broad discretion in deciding whom to prosecute, what charges to bring and to a certain degree what cases should be dismissed due to an inability to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Because of a District Attorney’s broad and almost unchecked prosecutorial powers, there is a significant inequity between the DA and the defendant. This inequity demands heightened ethical obligations of the District Attorney in order to ensure a fair process and the integrity of the justice system in general. The California Rules of Professional Conduct serve to educate attorneys, including a District Attorney, and provide a standard for professional conduct and ethical obligations.
Will his existing backing by Supervisor 2nd District Martha McClure who donated thousands to his campaign and may have had the support of others in the Democratic Central Party Committee (Bob Black and Kathryn Murray) be enough to exonerate him and extricate him from the following charges in condensed form?
Count 1 – Rules of Professional Conduct – Giving or Lending Money.
In a written response to the pending disciplinary charges, Alexander defiantly admits to loaning an assistant chief probation officer $14,000, despite a Professional Rule of Conduct prohibiting gifts or loans to a judicial officer. The State Bar accuses Alexander of dishonesty, moral turpitude and corruption for his subsequent failure to disclose the loan to the court and to defense attorneys. It is alleged that the probation officer made sentencing recommendations in cases that Alexander handled personally while acting as defense counsel prior to being elected and also subsequent to the election, while exercising his duties as District Attorney. Court documentation substantiates that on at least two occasions, the probation officer was assigned to the cases that Alexander handled as a defense attorney and once as District Attorney.
Count 2 – Business and Professions Code – Moral Turpitude – Corruption
In a separate course of conduct detailed in the State Bar disciplinary charges, Alexander is accused of accepting a $6,000 loan from a defense attorney, George Mavris, just several weeks prior to the dismissal of a controversial child stealing case involving a local daycare provider, who also happened to be Mavris’ client. Jackie Zlokovich was charged with child stealing after she went to a local preschool to pickup Amber Wesson’s daughter. Amber Wesson had just been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of prescription drugs, after side swiping a parked car near Zlokovich’s residence. Making the situation even murkier is the fact that Mavris was also Alexander’s attorney of record in prior State Bar proceedings. According to the State Bar, both Mavris and Alexander failed to disclose their personal and professional dealings to the court prior to Alexander’s request to dismiss the criminal charges altogether.
According to Superior Court documentation in the DUI case file, all criminal charges against Ms. Wesson for driving under the influence were dismissed. Court documents on file in the Del Norte County Superior Court custody case, indicate that in September of 2010, Ms. Wesson had sole physical and sole legal custody of her daughter. It also appears that Zlokovich at no time had permission from Ms. Wesson nor the child’s father to remove the child from preschool.
A declaration signed by the child’s father, Tom Iandiorio, filed in the parties’ family law case, stated under penalty of perjury that he had nothing to do with Zlokovich taking his daughter from her preschool and did not learn of it until after the fact. On the date of Ms. Wesson’s accident, her daughter had been in the care of Ms. Wesson’s father. He had dropped his granddaughter off at preschool and was planning to pick her up that same day. Zlokovich was not authorized to pick the child up. Court documents seem to clearly indicate that Jon Alexander’s statements regarding the Zlokovich situation are intentionally misleading and do not accurately reflect the actual circumstances underlying the disciplinary charges.
Count 3 – Business and Professions code – Moral Turpitude- Corruption
Count 4 – Rules of Professional Conduct – Communication with a Represented Party
Count 5 – Business and Professional Code – Moral Turpitude –corruption
Count 6 –Rules of Professional Conduct – Suppressing Evidence Contrary to Legal Obligation)
Count 7 – Rules of Professional Conduct Failure to Perform with Competence
The final set of State Bar disciplinary charges filed against Alexander stem from an unauthorized communication between Alexander and a criminal defendant represented by local defense attorney Darren McElfresh. According to statements contained in the charging document, Alexander engaged in a discussion of the circumstances surrounding the defendant’s arrest and continued the exchange despite being told by the defendant that she was represented by counsel. Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit an attorney from communicating with a represented defendant about the subject of that representation without the consent of the other attorney.
The State Bar’s Notice of Disciplinary Charges elaborates on the alleged conduct citing Alexander’s failure to disclose the communication to the defendant’s attorney of record, failing to document the content of the communication, and becoming a witness in the matter without proper disclosures to the parties involved.
A statement by Alexander regarding the disciplinary charges, released earlier this month contains his strong denial of any misconduct, dishonesty or alleged corruption. Interestingly, the statements made by Alexander do not deny the actual conduct. On the contrary, Alexander merely denies that his conduct rises to a level warranting disciplinary action. In doing so, Alexander unintentionally implies that Rules of Professional Conduct and Business and Professions Codes do not apply to him. His indirect denials are in juxtaposition to the oath he took to uphold the laws of the State of California when he was sworn in as this County’s District Attorney.
Apparently Alexander holds himself in such high regard, as if being elected District Attorney wipes out all pretense and character flaws he may possess. Alexander points to the source of the attorney complaint(s) as a mitigating factor to any wrongdoing. His position does not hold water. Regardless of who was responsible for the attorney complaint(s) being submitted to the State Bar, the conduct in question did in fact occur, by Alexander’s own admissions. In an attempt to deflect attention from the true issues at hand, Alexander has resorted to using his position as District Attorney to rally public support for his misconduct and likewise to rally public scorn against those who filed seemingly legitimate complaints against him.
Alexander’s cry for battle against the State Bar prosecutors may not have been the wisest decision. But then again, Alexander’s poor judgment is exactly why he is facing his sixth suspension from practicing law and worse, possible disbarment.
People in glass houses should not be throwing stones. Alexander ineptly lashes out at those who would dare to speak out against his questionable conduct. He labels them liars, criminals and fired former DA employees; like this is somehow suppose to nullify his own ethical blunders. Truth be told, should the California State Bar find him liable for the charges then Jon Alexander himself is a liar, criminal and fired former DA employee. Which begs the question, “Why should anyone trust YOU, Jon Alexander?”
People in this town want a level playing field. They want the law and those elected officials that supposedly uphold the law to treat everyone equally under the law as well as to abide by the law themselves. Rather than continue the bad old boy/bad old girl system of doing business through cronyism, nepotism and all the other “isms” that this county is so famous for, wouldn’t it be amazing if we actually elected officials that did their job without all the back door dealings that keep us famous for the slogan “there’s no law North of the Klamath.”