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Lawyers accused of acting unethically by pursuing suits under the state unfair competition law have fired back at regulators, claiming recent State Bar enforcement improperly intrudes into cases pending in the trial courts. Three attorneys at the Beverly Hills-based Trevor Law Group have retained Kevin Gerry, a former deputy state attorney general who is a solo in Beverly Hills. Gerry said the Bar is merely “responding to political influence” by injecting itself into Trevor’s ongoing litigation. “They are live judicial actions. The State Bar can’t come in and essentially pull the rug out from underneath the judicial process,” Gerry said. The Bar has accused Trevor partners Damian Trevor, Allan Hendrickson and Shane Han of violating the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act in their filing of thousands of lawsuits against Southern California small businesses. On April 7, prosecutors will ask a Bar Court judge to suspend the three attorneys while they seek permanent disbarment. The Trevor attorneys filed their suits under Business and Professions Code � 17200. The litigation, much of which is still pending, has put the firm at the center of a debate in Sacramento over whether to reform the statute. But Gerry said Trevor’s practices are a legitimate use of 17200. If the actions are really frivolous — as the Bar has claimed — then judges would dismiss them, he said. Instead, the cases are progressing through the courts. “If these were ‘extortion’ plans,” Gerry said, using the word favored by investigators, “then you’d see just the opposite.” The Bar filed charges March 13 after what it described as the largest investigation in its history. It has accused the Trevor attorneys of several charges, including moral turpitude, fraud, malicious prosecution, practicing without a license, sharing fees with non-attorneys and bringing action with intent to harm. Gerry laid out the main points of his argument in a response filed Friday in Bar Court. Mike Nisperos Jr., chief trial counsel for the Bar, said Gerry’s argument “seems to lack an understanding” of the Bar’s enforcement powers. “The State Bar discipline system is a separate system that enforces rules of professional conduct,” he said. Following Gerry’s reasoning — that regulators cannot intrude on an attorney’s open cases would set a dangerous precedent for Bar discipline, Nisperos said. “An attorney who is in litigation cannot use that fact as a complete bar to discipline proceedings concerning the way they conduct themselves,” Nisperos said. Gerry said he was also concerned that the majority of complaints that are included in the Bar investigation came from defendants in the suits. If defendants have problems, he said, they should go to judges. And if there’s a problem with 17200 itself, then the Legislature should take it up. “These cases are being settled and prosecuted . . . effectively for the benefit of the public,” Gerry said. Legislators have introduced 11 bills this year aimed at reforming 17200. But the leaders of the powerful Senate and Assembly Judiciary committees have said they are waiting to see what the Bar and Attorney General Bill Lockyer can do to curb alleged abuses of the statute before deciding whether to propose substantial reform. Gerry is also representing the Trevor Law Group in a suit filed by Lockyer’s office. He said he planned to reply to that suit soon.

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