California's Top Ethics Prosecutor, Jayne Kim, Resigns Her Post

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on May 17, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The California State Bar's chief trial counsel, Jayne Kim, will be leaving for good amid controversy and a recent "no confidence" vote against her by fellow state bar employees. Apparently, Kim's resignation has been in the cards for a while, delayed only by circumstances surrounding an infusion of new blood at the trial counsel level.

Kim's resignation came as a bit of a surprise to those who thought the waters had cleared for the State Bar's ethics prosecutor, but for her part, Kim has signaled that now was the "right time for [her] to move on."

Tenure and Controversy

When Jayne Kim took the helm of the California State Bar's attorney discipline office, the program was already in turmoil. That turmoil didn't end with her arrival.

Two major fiascos have marred Kim's tenure at the state bar, including a suit by her former boss. That suit alleges = that Kim removed some 270 cases from her disciplinary group's backlog in order to give the illusion that her team was highly effective in prosecuting ethics violators. That former boss, Joe Dunn, also sued the state bar for letting him go. As the drama played out, the state bar countered that Dunn's termination could only be blamed on himself. Currently, his case is in ADR.

The allegations caused the California State Auditor to start sniffing around. The auditor intimated that, in Kim's zeal to shorten backlogs, her office would routinely skim over disciplinary cases and hand out slap-on-the-wrist punishments.

No Confidence Vote

It didn't take long for things to go from bad to worse for Kim. Last year, the employees of the State Bar cast a vote of "no confidence" almost unanimously with regards to Kim's ability to lead her office and to act as chief prosecutor. Seventy-six percent of votes voted "nay."

Let Me Outta Here

Kim's leaving the organization has been decorously downplayed by State Bar President David Pasternak who characterized her continued stay as request by the board "to see [it] through a period of tremendous evolution and transformation."

We're sure.

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