• News Ticker alerts

The State Bar of California is once again looking into legal activities of Michael Shames, co-founder and head of Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN), a utility watchdog. As I reported earlier, the bar recently closed a probe of Shames's activities. Now it is looking again. Shames went inactive as a bar member in 1988, but continued to call himself an attorney in filings before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in books he authored, and on UCAN's website, among several places. An internal UCAN whistleblower complained to the CPUC that Shames was not an attorney. The commission had no problem with that, because people practicing before the commission do not have to be attorneys.

However, a whistleblower found a case in which Shames identified himself as an attorney in filing an amicus brief before the Second Appellate District of California. He was representing UCAN. He and Lee Biddle, a former UCAN attorney, applied for leave to file the brief in December of 2003; their name was on the decision rendered on April 19, 2004. Lee Biddle, now with a San Diego law firm, says, "I can't recall who did most of the work." The court's decision is available online by googling michael shames + amicus + appellate district. However, Shames insists he must have a signed copy to render an opinion and he could not locate it in the files. He says that the UCAN board looked into the matter last March. "I was directly informed that the allegation has no merit," he says.

However, when an attorney files with the bar to become inactive, he or she receives a form reminding the attorney of two state laws: 1. "No person shall practice law in California unless the person is an active member of the State Bar." and 2. "Any person advertising or holding himself or herself out as practicing or entitled to practice law or otherwise practicing law who is not an active member of the State Bar, is guilty of a misdemeanor." Shames believes the matter is not an important one.

  • News Ticker alerts

More like this:

Comments

Gail Powell Sept. 13, 2011 @ 2:12 p.m.

Leave Shames alone! He is the only one to tell the truth about that stupid Power Outage that SDG&E claims came about because of some lineman in Yuma pulling a wrong switch. That dude called it right when he said it was a switching error by the Calif. ISO and /or SGG&E! All Shames should do is be careful to call himself a "former attorney" and make sure there is an active lawyer authoring anything he submits to State Agencies.

0

Don Bauder Sept. 13, 2011 @ 3:30 p.m.

I do hope that Shames exposes the truth of what happened to cause the blackout. Best, Don Bauder

0

lesliebrodie Sept. 13, 2011 @ 2:35 p.m.

Mr Bauder:

Michael Shames is an adviser to State Bar of California Executive Director Judy Johnson at the California Consumer Protection Foundation ("CCPF") -- a sham entity which absorbed close to $30 Million from fines and settlements the CPUC imposes on utility companies and from class actions cy pres award.

See http://consumerfdn.org/advisors.php

So it comes as no surprise that the State Bar was missing in action. So long that the money pours in, a trend was established among APIA and AA at the State Bar to look the other way. It is very profitable for APIA, AA, and the Democratic Party.

Ditto sham charity CaliforniaALL -- See : http://lesliebrodie.blog.co.uk/2011/09/08/orange-county-investigative-news-agency-voice-of-oc-asked-to-produce-all-documents-submitted-to-the-internal-revenue-service-within-the-past-thre-11803606/

For more information about CCPF, please visit: http://lesliebrodie.blog.co.uk/2011/04/09/b-r-e-a-k-i-n-g-n-e-w-s-details-beginning-to-pour-in-11044973/

Please contact lesliebrodie@in.com for additional information.

0

Don Bauder Sept. 13, 2011 @ 3:34 p.m.

I was not able to pick up those links but the subject sounds very interesting. Best, Don Bauder

0

BradleyFikes Sept. 13, 2011 @ 3:59 p.m.

The document in question appears to be this one: http://www.povertylaw.org/poverty-law-library/case/55700/55750/55750a.pdf

If this is the document, where in it does Shames identify himself as an attorney?

0

Don Bauder Sept. 13, 2011 @ 7:29 p.m.

I was not able to pick up the link, Bradley. Shames may not have identified himself as a lawyer in that document but he identified himself as an attorney in numerous filings before the CPUC, in his books, and on the UCAN website. Best, Don Bauder

0

SurfPuppy619 Sept. 13, 2011 @ 10:39 p.m.

Shames went inactive as a bar member in 1988, but continued to call himself an attorney in filings before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in books he authored, and on UCAN's website, among several places.

He is, was and always will be an attorney.

Being INACTIVE does NOT take away your status as an attorney, you just are not allowed to practice on inactive status-but you are indeed an attorney!

0

SurfPuppy619 Sept. 13, 2011 @ 10:44 p.m.

Here is the case, and Shames is listed as attorney of record for UCAN-but on the docket there is NO ENTRY for any amicus brief filed by UCAN.

Weird.

. http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search/case/partiesAndAttorneys.cfm?dist=2&doc_id=1105656&doc_no=B166993 .

0

Visduh Sept. 13, 2011 @ 4:01 p.m.

Shames was having it both ways. He was not a member of the Bar when it would have required paying dues and doing continuing education. (Also saved on malpractice insurance premiums.) He was an "attorney" when it suited his purposes, and insured that he was paid as one while doing work that UCAN had already paid him to perform. Sweet, huh? Jokers like he contribute to the bad rep of members of the legal profession. I hope they bust him good, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

0

Don Bauder Sept. 13, 2011 @ 7:33 p.m.

He should have made sure that he was not identified as an attorney in that amicus brief. Anybody can file an amicus brief, whether or not an attorney, as I understand it, but Shames was representing UCAN, thus serving as an attorney when he was not in the bar. Technically, that was a violation of law. Will he get busted? Doubt it. UCAN wants to merge with TURN, a similar organization in the Bay Area. That's why UCAN does not like this bad publicity. Best, Don Bauder

0

SurfPuppy619 Sept. 13, 2011 @ 10:55 p.m.

Anybody can file an amicus brief, whether or not an attorney, as I understand it, but Shames was representing UCAN, thus serving as an attorney when he was not in the bar. Technically, that was a violation of law ==

1- You NEED the approval of the court to file an amicus brief. I have never heard of a lay person filing an amicus brief-usually it is a law professor with expertise in the area, a public interest group with expertise in the area, or some other group with extensive knpwledge of the area and can give the judges an intelligent and informed view.

2- If you read the docket there is no entry of an amicus brief filed by UCAN.

What is weird about the case is TURN did submit an amicus brief, and then case was decided back in Aperil of 2004, yet TURN filed a petition for review in the CA Supreme Court in 2008-4 years after-that is weird.

0

BradleyFikes Sept. 13, 2011 @ 4:01 p.m.

Okay, now I see why it's hard to post the link. Perhaps this shortened one will work: http://j.mp/pZrRQs

0

Don Bauder Sept. 13, 2011 @ 7:35 p.m.

I struck out again, Bradley. Best, Don Bauder

0

BradleyFikes Sept. 13, 2011 @ 4:03 p.m.

Uh, remove the > sign at the end of the link I just posted and it will work. Can't the Reader fix this glitch with hyperlinks?

0

Don Bauder Sept. 13, 2011 @ 7:36 p.m.

You got me. I'm the Reader Luddite. Best, Don Bauder

0

Don Bauder Sept. 13, 2011 @ 7:43 p.m.

Got it. Yes, that is the decision of April 19, 2004. But in the application for leave to file the amicus brief, filed Dec. 8, 2003, there is this listing: Michael Shames, Lee Biddle, "Attorneys for Utility Consumers' Action Network." Also in the document headed CALIFORNIA APPELLATE COURTS Case Information 2nd Appellate District, Shames is listed under the heading "Attorney." Best, Don Bauder

0

SurfPuppy619 Sept. 13, 2011 @ 11 p.m.

But in the application for leave to file the amicus brief, filed Dec. 8, 2003, there is this listing: Michael Shames, Lee Biddle, "Attorneys for Utility Consumers' Action Network." == There is no entry on the docket dated De. 8, 2003 Don

. http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search/case/dockets.cfm?dist=2&doc_id=1105656&doc_no=B166993 .

0

Don Bauder Sept. 14, 2011 @ 8:02 a.m.

I have a copy of the document. Best, Don Bauder

0

Sign in to comment

Join our
newsletter list

Enter to win $25 at Broken Yolk Cafe

Each newsletter subscription
means another chance to win!

Close