State Bar reverses course and plans to release records of complaints against Tom Girardi

The State Bar of California reversed course Friday and said it was prepared to make public confidential information about decades of complaints against disgraced lawyer Tom Girardi — records that the agency previously claimed had to remain secret.

The agency disclosed the change in a court filing in a lawsuit The Times brought against the bar last year seeking access to the complaints.

Lawyers for the bar told the state Supreme Court, which is hearing the newspaper’s petition, that it was abandoning its opposition after determining that the release of the records was “more consistent with its current understanding of its public protection mission and policy of transparency.”

The State Bar, which oversees the licensing and discipline of lawyers in California, presented its new approach as part of a broader effort to reform the agency, which has been battered by its mishandling of Girardi’s case.

His once-revered law firm, Girardi Keese, collapsed in 2020 amid evidence that he had stolen millions in settlement money from widows and orphans of airline crash victims. Since then, additional information has emerged indicating that Girardi misappropriated money from vulnerable clients for decades to fund the high life he enjoyed with his third wife, Erika, star of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

The state Supreme Court formally disbarred him in July.

“Given Mr. Girardi’s disbarment and the growing publicly available information about his conduct, the Chair and Chief Trial Counsel have now determined, in the exercise of our discretion, that release of the information is warranted for the protection of the public,” Ruben Duran, chair of the State Bar’s board of trustees, said in a statement.

The State Bar said it would release information about closed complaints against Girardi in 30 days, unless the Supreme Court intervenes, according to the filing.

Girardi, 83, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year and is in a court-ordered conservatorship.

This story will be updated.

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