Federal judge rips criminal defense attorney as 'hazard' and 'menace' – Los Angeles Times

Federal appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski, an outspoken critic of prosecutors who commit misconduct, took on a California criminal defense lawyer Monday for being “a hazard to clients”  and “a menace to the profession and to the courts.”

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Bakersfield lawyer Gregory H. Mitts was grossly negligent in his representation of Rowan Brooks, an inmate challenging his murder conviction.

The court said Mitts filed Brooks’ appeal late and then failed to respond to a court order asking for an explanation. Mitts also failed to inform his client of the order, despite persistent inquiries from Brooks, the court said.

“Mitts’ behavior was not mere negligence, but rather virtual abandonment — ‘neglect so gross that it is inexcusable,’” the panel said.

The 9th Circuit ordered the district court to reconsider the case.

In a concurrence, Kozinski, a Reagan appointee, made a veiled appeal to the California bar to discipline the defense lawyer.

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