The State Bar of California has filed a motion for default judgment against a Bakersfield lawyer accused of misappropriating nearly $1 million, setting the stage for her disbarment.
The motion, filed Tuesday, said family law attorney Heather Stanley has failed to respond to trial counsel after being notified by the state bar of disciplinary charges alleging she spent hundreds of thousands of dollars that was supposed to be held in a trust on behalf of a client. She was sent notification of the charges on Dec. 5.
Stanley has 10 days to file a response with the state bar court from the date of Tuesday's motion. If she doesn't, the court will enter the default judgment.
The disciplinary charges filed against her include failure to deposit the funds in a trust account, misappropriation, failure to maintain client funds and misrepresentation.
"If your default is entered, and you fail to timely move to set it aside, this court will enter an order recommending your disbarment without further hearing or proceeding," Drew Massey, senior trial counsel for the state bar, wrote in Tuesday's court filing.
Stanley discussed the case with Massey on Nov. 21, including the procedure for setting a conference to discuss evidence and issues in dispute, Massey wrote in the filing. But on Dec. 2 Stanley gave notice she would not participate in the conference.
State bar officials have not heard from her since, despite repeated attempts to contact her, the filing said.
Stanley has not returned messages left by The Californian at her office.
According to state bar documents, Stanley took two checks totaling $1,052,311.57 from a client and deposited them into an account she controlled at Kern Schools Federal Credit Union. The checks were received on or about Aug. 5, 2010 and May 2, 2011.
She was supposed to maintain the full amount on behalf of the client, but "dishonestly or grossly negligently misappropriated" $955,000 for her own purposes, the documents said. The misappropriation of the funds occurred between July 25, 2013, and Nov. 14, 2013, the documents allege.