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California State Bar Hands Down 60-Day Suspension for Darryl Genis

Controversial DUI attorney now serving time at Lompoc federal prison camp will face another disciplinary action related to tax filing failure

Well-known Santa Barbara DUI attorney Darryl Genis has been suspended from practicing law for 60 days, a penalty that is moot because he currently is serving time in federal prison for tax evasion. Click to view larger
Well-known Santa Barbara DUI attorney Darryl Genis has been suspended from practicing law for 60 days, a penalty that is moot because he currently is serving time in federal prison for tax evasion. (Noozhawk file photo)

For the second time in less than three years, a controversial Santa Barbara DUI attorney has been suspended from practicing law, with the latest disciplinary action stemming from a 2014 incident in a courtroom.

Meanwhile, Darryl Genis, 61, faces yet a third case at the State Bar of California after pleading guilty to failure to file tax returns in fall 2016..

However, the 60-day suspension is somewhat moot and the third disciplinary case remains in limbo since Genis is incarcerated in the Satellite Prison Camp at the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex serving time for his tax case.

He is not set for release until at least Feb. 7, 2019, U.S. Bureau of Prisons officials said.

The most recent suspension from the California Bar began Dec. 29 and runs through Feb. 27, and was handed down after an appeal by the Office of Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar.

State Bar representatives had objected to a hearing judge’s decision to impose an admonition in lieu of discipline for Genis misleading a superior court judge.

The case stems from an incident July 9, 2014, when Genis “fiddled” with Deputy District Attorney Justin Greene’s papers during a court recess, and then rearranged and hid a document from him. 

When asked about the allegation by Judge Brian Hill, Genis denied touching the papers. A videotape revealed otherwise.

In the opinion, the judges note not only the actions by Genis, but also the fact he lied to Hill.

State Bar rules say “that a matter may not be resolved by admonition if it involves dishonesty or moral turpitude.”

“Even if an admonition were a permitted option, we recommend discipline of 60 days’ actual suspension as a fair and appropriate sanction given the facts of this case, the standards, relevant case precedent, and Genis’s prior 30-day actual suspension,” the opinion said. 

In October 2015, Genis was given a 30-day actual suspension for disobeying a court order involving a different case.

In the second case, Genis has been suspended from practicing law for a year, with most of that stayed. However, he must be suspended from the first 60 days of his two-year probation.

“Given Genis’s prior and present misconduct, we recommend 60 days’ actual suspension as a necessary and appropriate disciplinary sanction that serves to protect the public, the bench, and the bar,” the opinion says.

Announcement of the suspension came after Genis began serving his sentence May 15 in the federal criminal case. 

A third State Bar disciplinary review, now awaiting his release from prison, stems from Genis pleading guilty in federal court in October 2016 to three misdemeanor charges for willful failure to file a tax return.

Genis did not report more than $3.5 million in income to the Internal Revenue Service, and failed to pay income taxes for eight years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In addition to the 24-month prison sentence Genis was ordered to pay $679,958 in restitution to the IRS, and to serve one year of supervised release once his prison term is complete, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Federal officials noted that in one weekend in 2009, Genis gambled away tens of thousands of dollars that exceeded the taxes he owed that year.

In reaction to his February 2017 sentencing for the tax case, a federal judge suspended Genis’s right to practice law in federal courts. 

“As the crime of which Genis has been convicted in this court involved ‘deceit’ and ‘the use of dishonesty,’ it constitutes a “serious crime” under the Local Rules,” the ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips said.

That federal suspension will remain in place pending final disposition of State Bar proceedings. 

An attorney for Genis did not respond to a request for comment on the 60-day suspension.

Several websites still tout Genis’s tactics as an aggressive defense attorney who specializes in drunken-driving cases, with one saying he is in good standing with the California Bar while linking in a lower paragraph to his bar membership record listing his suspension. 

“I was admitted to the bar in California in November of 1980, and have been a member in good standing ever since,” another website says.

All three websites list the same office and phone number. A call to the number this week revealed an answering service and an offer to try to reach Genis, with no mention of his suspension.

However, California Bar officials say he is not required to notify clients about a suspension of less than 90 days.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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