A California attorney is facing a six-month suspension after the State Bar accused her of manipulating several images on her business Web site to suggest she had a lot of famous friends, including the Clintons, Donald Trump and Alec Baldwin.
Although the State Bar Court’s decision is awaiting approval from the California Supreme Court, the recommendation from State Bar Court Judge Donald Miles condemns attorney Svitlana Sangary’s “demonstrated lack of insight and her contemptuous conduct during these proceedings.”
In addition to concluding that she violated the Bar’s rules on deceptive advertising, Miles also notes that Sangary generally refused to cooperate with the investigation, according to the Recorder.
Miles also criticized the attorney’s “failure to remove the deceptive images from her website, even after the State Bar brought this issue to her attention.” The “publicity” page in question no longer appears as a link on the homepage of Sangary’s business website, but it remains available through a direct link to the page.
Sangary has not publicly commented on the State Bar Court’s ruling.
Anyway, here are more of the images in question. A State Bar investigation concluded that some or all of the “publicity” images were manipulated:
Because these images appeared as “part of an advertisement and solicitation for future work,” the State Bar Court’s decision notes, they constituted “false and deceptive” advertising.
According to Miles’s decision, Sangary eventually responded to the court’s disciplinary proceedings with what Miles referred to as “a 16-page soliloquy with little or no rational connection to the charges at hand” to serve as her response.
Here is an excerpt from that response, which you should absolutely read in full and not skim:
Also with regard to false statements and misleading advertisement, none other than Natalie Portman comes to mind. The online media extensively covers the controversy surrounding Natalie Portman’s performance in the film Black Swan. The ballet dancer who performed in the Black Swan, Sarah Lane, has come forward to revel [sic] a “cover up” and says that Natalie Portman’s head was superimposed onto Sarah Lane’s body, and that Natalie Portman lied…Despite the foregoing, Natalie Portman has won an Oscar for her performance in Black Swan.
Speaking in the third person, her response concluded:
SANGARY’s American dream has come true, as she has been able to achieve a point wherein now, in her thirties, SANGARY is a prominent donor and philanthropist, supporting important social causes, who had recently received the email from President Obama, with the subject line ‘I need your help today’, asking SVITLANA SANGARY for an additional donation….God Bless America!
That e-mail from Obama — which was like this Democratic National Committee newsletter, and used similar language — was attached as an exhibit to the response. There were 148 pages of exhibits in all, few of which pertained to the actual investigation.
Miles also described Sangary’s conduct in court. (Reminder: Sangary is an attorney.)
Throughout the balance of the trial, Respondent refused to participate, other than stating that she wanted a continuance and was not prepared to try the case. When called as a witness by the State Bar, she took the same position and declined even to take the witness’s oath until ordered to do so by this court. She then refused to answer any questions, claiming a First Amendment right to remain silent. This refusal continued despite this court’s instruction to her that, subject to her Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer specific questions that were potentially incriminating, she had an obligation to cooperate with the disciplinary proceeding…
The decision also criticizes Sangary’s apparent delay in releasing a client’s file to another attorney, after the client terminated her employment and hired someone else.
Despite the State Bar’s frustration with Sangary’s alleged conduct, she’s winning some pretty important Internet praise for the quality of her photoshops.
— darth™ (@darth) September 18, 2014