The Metropolitan News-Enterprise online of Los Angeles reports that an attorney in contempt for comments raised in a legal malpractice case. Details here.

Appeals Court Finds Local Lawyer in Contempt for Comments in Petitions Seeking Rehearing

By DAVID WATSON, Staff Writer

A Los Angeles lawyer who in two petitions for rehearing asserted that appellate justices were biased against her client and had reasoned backward to reach a predetermined result has been found guilty of criminal contempt by this district’s Court of Appeal.

In an unsigned opinion filed Tuesday, Justices Kenneth R. Yegan and Steven Z. Perren and Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert of Div. Six, citing In re Buckley (1973) 10 Cal.3d 237, said the arguments made by Debra L. Koven amounted to an accusation of “deliberate judicial dishonesty” and were part of a “pattern of abuse.”

The justices noted that, after the court set a contempt hearing, Koven admitted her comments were inappropriate and apologized, and said they accepted the apology.

“Nevertheless,” they wrote, “we do not purge Koven of the contempts she committed because her unsupported accusations of judicial misconduct are patently outrageous. Moreover, there is an aggravating factor. She has also impugned the integrity of the trial judge, opposing counsel, and counsel’s expert witnesses.”

The court fined Koven $2,000 and ordered her conduct reported to the State Bar.

“In view of her apology, we do not impose any jail time,” the justices declared.

Koven’s comments were made in two petitions on behalf of a legal malpractice plaintiff. When the panel affirmed Ventura Superior Court Judge Kent M. Kellegrew’s orders in the malpractice case denying Koven’s motions to disqualify defendant DeWitt Blase’s attorneys and his expert witness, and granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Koven filed the rehearing petitions.

One petition asserted that the justices had “worked backwards in reviewing the issues” to reach a predetermined result. Yegan and Perren had “personal biases in favor of” Blase, she argued.

The appeals court’s ruling on the summary judgment was “not simply a flagrant, reprehensible breach of its ethical and legal obligations to afford every litigant equal protection under the law, but it is contrary to all published legal authority in this state,” Koven wrote, adding that it demonstrated a “profound lack of integrity.”

Koven’s statements were “contemptuous on their face,” the justices wrote, and were “far more egregious” than conduct found contemptuous in Buckley and other reported cases.

The justices wrote:

“It appears to us that Koven’s approach to litigation focuses upon impugning the integrity of everyone in the legal system, whether judges, justices, attorneys, or expert witnesses, who obstruct the achievement of her goals. This shows a pattern of abuse which serves to aggravate the contempts committed here.”

Koven has been a member of the bar since 1990. She attended UCLA as an undergraduate and Western State University College of Law, and has no public record of discipline.

She could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

The case is In re Koven, B184017.

Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company

Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Andrew Lavoott Bluestone

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened…

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened his private law office and took his first legal malpractice case.

Since 1989, Bluestone has become a leader in the New York Plaintiff’s Legal Malpractice bar, handling a wide array of plaintiff’s legal malpractice cases arising from catastrophic personal injury, contracts, patents, commercial litigation, securities, matrimonial and custody issues, medical malpractice, insurance, product liability, real estate, landlord-tenant, foreclosures and has defended attorneys in a limited number of legal malpractice cases.

Bluestone also took an academic role in field, publishing the New York Attorney Malpractice Report from 2002-2004.  He started the “New York Attorney Malpractice Blog” in 2004, where he has published more than 4500 entries.

Mr. Bluestone has written 38 scholarly peer-reviewed articles concerning legal malpractice, many in the Outside Counsel column of the New York Law Journal. He has appeared as an Expert witness in multiple legal malpractice litigations.

Mr. Bluestone is an adjunct professor of law at St. John’s University College of Law, teaching Legal Malpractice.  Mr. Bluestone has argued legal malpractice cases in the Second Circuit, in the New York State Court of Appeals, each of the four New York Appellate Divisions, in all four of  the U.S. District Courts of New York and in Supreme Courts all over the state.  He has also been admitted pro haec vice in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida and was formally admitted to the US District Court of Connecticut and to its Bankruptcy Court all for legal malpractice matters. He has been retained by U.S. Trustees in legal malpractice cases from Bankruptcy Courts, and has represented municipalities, insurance companies, hedge funds, communications companies and international manufacturing firms. Mr. Bluestone regularly lectures in CLEs on legal malpractice.

Based upon his professional experience Bluestone was named a Diplomate and was Board Certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys in 2008 in Legal Malpractice. He remains Board Certified.  He was admitted to The Best Lawyers in America from 2012-2019.  He has been featured in Who’s Who in Law since 1993.

In the last years, Mr. Bluestone has been featured for two particularly noteworthy legal malpractice cases.  The first was a settlement of an $11.9 million dollar default legal malpractice case of Yeo v. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman which was reported in the NYLJ on August 15, 2016. Most recently, Mr. Bluestone obtained a rare plaintiff’s verdict in a legal malpractice case on behalf of the City of White Plains v. Joseph Maria, reported in the NYLJ on February 14, 2017. It was the sole legal malpractice jury verdict in the State of New York for 2017.

Bluestone has been at the forefront of the development of legal malpractice principles and has contributed case law decisions, writing and lecturing which have been recognized by his peers.  He is regularly mentioned in academic writing, and his past cases are often cited in current legal malpractice decisions. He is recognized for his ample writings on Judiciary Law § 487, a 850 year old statute deriving from England which relates to attorney deceit.