The State Bar Court of California has ordered a Bakersfield attorney to cease practicing law and advised her that she faces possible disbarment after she failed to attend a hearing regarding allegations she misappropriated nearly $1 million from a client.

Heather Stanley's State Bar trial was set to begin May 16, according to court records. She didn't show, and the court entered a default judgment against her.

On Friday, Stanley became an inactive member of the State Bar, based on the court's order.

"If you fail to timely move to set aside your default, this court will enter an order recommending your disbarment without further hearing or proceeding," said the order signed by State Bar Judge Donald F. Miles. 

Stanley could not immediately be reached for comment Monday. Previous attempts by the The Californian to contact her have been unsuccessful.

In August 2010 and May 2011, Stanley received two checks on behalf of a client totaling $1,052,311.57. In 2013, she took $955,000 for her own use, according to disciplinary charges brought by the Office of Chief Trial Counsel.

The State Bar said Stanley ignored eight requests from her client to account for the money and, when confronted by a State Bar investigator, falsely said she bought cashier's checks and returned the money to the client, according to the charges.

In early February, the State Bar issued a "consumer alert" notifying the public of the charges against Stanley and urging anyone who believes they have been the victim of attorney misconduct to file a complaint with the agency.

According to documents filed with the State Bar in February, Stanley said she underwent major surgery on Dec. 5 and was unable to "effectively participate" in court proceedings until at least May. 

She said in the documents she had given prior notice to the State Bar's Office of Chief Trial Counsel regarding the surgery and anticipated recovery period.

Admitted to the bar in 1996, Stanley practiced family law. 

(1) comment

BillJames

Hi Jason- Any follow up to this story ?

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