Court Throws Out Disbarred Lawyer's Suit Against Newspaper

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 05, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Smart people can be pretty dumb, too.

Take Wade Anthony Robertson. He graduated from Stanford Law School, passed the California Bar Exam, and had a great idea for a lawsuit -- so he thought.

He convinced a client to invest $3.5 million in a class-action, but that turned into a really bad idea. A series of dumb decisions later, it turned from bad to worst.

Bad to Worst

In the realm of bad-decision consequences, disbarment is about the worst. A criminal conviction can be worse, but the consequences are relative.

Robertson made the worst decision of his legal life when he took his client's money and spent it. In his disciplinary case, a State Bar judge said Robertson defrauded his client and misappropriated his money.

If that weren't bad enough, Robertson decided to sue his client. That triggered a cross-complaint for malpractice and a $7 million award against the Stanford grad.

His case made the papers, so Robertson figured he'd sue them, too. By that time, his once-brilliant legal career had flickered out.

No Criminal Conviction

He complained that the San Francisco Chronicle ran his story in the "Crime" section, but he had not been convicted of a crime. A California appeals court said the story was a privileged account based on court records and an accurate summary of his legal travails.

Robertson also quibbled with the news report for saying he was "suspended" from practice when he was actually on "involuntary inactive status." "Involuntary inactive status" is a suspension, the appellate judges said.

The appeals panel made no reference to any criminal proceedings, but there's still time. It may depend on Robertson's next decision.

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