The notice of disciplinary charges was filed July 9. Genis has 20 days to respond and may have a trial presided over by a state judge.
Genis, who specializes in DUI cases, is accused of making a false and malicious complaint to the State Bar and having “moral turpitude.”
In a 2010 case, a defendant fired Genis and hired attorney Charles Biely. Genis emailed Stephen Foley, the former acting chief trial deputy district attorney, and said the prosecutor on the case, Brooke Gerard, “disrespected me and cost me a client.”
According to the State Bar filing, he also wrote, “I will personally make her miserable by increasing her workload until either her office, (sic) or the bench denies her the ability to oppose and disrespect me.”
Genis then made a state bar complaint saying that the District Attorney’s Office wrongly provided Biely with discovery documents in the case. State Bar investigators said the complaint was made after Biely was the attorney for the case — and had even appeared in court — and Genis knew that.
He is also accused of “moral turpitude” for using that claim — that Gerard wrongly gave information to Biely — in a motion to strike for another criminal case.
Lastly, the notice alleges that Genis failed to obey court orders in two court cases, one in San Luis Obispo and one in Santa Barbara. In the first case, he was sanctioned $750 in June 2011 for failure to appear — twice — after being ordered to by a judge.
In a 2012 Santa Barbara Superior Court case, he was told not to mention “allegations of prior misconduct” by Santa Barbara police officer Aaron Tudor without approval from the judge, but did so anyway. He was fined $2,000 since the judge determined there was no good cause for the violations.
Genis has a status conference scheduled for Aug. 13, and the case has been assigned to State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn. He is being represented by Arthur Lewis Margolis.
In a comment to Noozhawk on Thursday, Genis said Foley “started a personal vendetta” against him.
“I am confident that I am not culpable of the specious allegations that have been trumped up against me, and I trust in the abilities of my attorney,” he said.
Margolis believes the State Bar “overreacts when judges or prosecutors complain” and “suggested that disciplinary charges are really a means of punishing Genis for provocative behavior inside and outside the courtroom,” the statement said.
Genis has been involved in two high-profile criminal DUI cases in recent years, defending residents Peter Lance and Tony Denunzio. Lance’s case was dismissed by a judge, after Genis argued that the police had no reason to pull him over. The case spurred a community debate on the Santa Barbara Police Department’s lack of in-car video cameras and a grand jury report later urged the department to install them.
Denunzio’s arrest came after a controversial traffic stop in which he was pulled over then repeatedly hit and Tasered by Tudor. Most of the exchange was caught on video, since Tudor’s vehicle was fitted with a trial version of the cameras called for after Lance’s case.
The trial had to be moved to Santa Maria because of all the publicity and ultimately, the charge of driving under the influence resulted in a hung jury.
Genis has not been disciplined by the State Bar before, but was recently charged with contempt of court based on comments he made to a prosecutor in June, calling her a “little girl” in the courtroom.
Genis apologized to the court and to opposing counsel, Hannah Lucy, and the court order states that “he was frustrated by what he believed was Ms. Lucy loudly sighing during his argument of the motions.”
Judge Jean Dandona found the apology “disingenuous and insincere.” She fined him $1,000, and that level of fine is reportable to the State Bar.
Genis has said he’s seeking a contempt hearing against Lucy for telling Genis “you’re an a**hole” while the court was in session but out of earshot.