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The irony in State Bar Court Judge JoAnn Remke’s courtroom was almost palpable Tuesday morning. For more than 20 minutes it looked as if one of the two lawyers the State Bar Court is investigating — after neither appeared for February arguments before the California Supreme Court — would be a no-show at a status conference for the investigation. After a large, red digital clock on Remke’s bench silently counted almost 10 minutes past 9:30, Remke asked the court’s case administrator to call Raul Aguilar. She appeared to reach his firm, Aguilar & Sebastinelli, but not the lawyer himself. When Aguilar finally walked in at 9:56 a.m. he faced momentary grilling by the judge. “Would you like to explain your tardiness?” Remke asked, upon his arrival. “I’m sorry, your honor. I thought it started at 10 o’clock,” Aguilar replied. After he told the judge he’d entered the wrong time in his calendar, Remke didn’t belabor the point. The Supreme Court has directed the State Bar Court to investigate whether Aguilar or his former employee, Allen Kent, lied to the justices about why neither of them showed up for a Feb. 10 oral argument in a case involving a fee dispute between Aguilar and his divorce lawyer. The high court called both lawyers on the carpet earlier this month to explain, but wasn’t satisfied with their reasons. The State Bar Court’s report, due April 30 , will address whether either of the lawyers breached any professional or ethical obligations. Remke called the status conference Tuesday to lay out the scope and schedule of the investigation. Kent contends Aguilar effectively terminated him five days before arguments, while Aguilar claims Kent resigned and didn’t mention the pending Supreme Court case. In Aguilar’s absence Tuesday, Remke discussed the nuts and bolts of the investigation with counsel for the State Bar and Kent’s attorneys, who said their client was not present because he was having minor surgery. At times, Remke and Bar lawyers wondered aloud whether Aguilar would cooperate; one of Kent’s attorneys, Philip Ryan, interjected his doubts. Kent has also added San Francisco solo Ephraim Margolin, a specialist at representing lawyers before the bar, to his team. Once he arrived, Aguilar seemed to bend over backward to meet the court’s requests. He answered agreeably to the Bar lawyers’ requirements — a four-hour interview on Thursday, making his employees available for interviews, and handing over computer specifications to help forensic experts prepare to probe his hard drives. “We won’t have any problems with this?” Remke asked. “Absolutely not,” Aguilar replied. The Bar’s interview with Kent is set for today, said Mike Nisperos Jr., chief trial counsel for the Bar. Though the Bar doesn’t read Miranda rights in typical disciplinary proceedings, there’s a strong possibility Kent and Aguilar will hear them when they’re interviewed, Nisperos said, calling their investigation “totally atypical.” Questions of potential ethical misconduct and perjury are at issue, he said. Aguilar is appearing pro per now, but said he plans to hire an attorney before an April 20 evidentiary hearing. A lawyer in his firm, Dominic Flamiano, had previously indicated he’d represent Aguilar, but Nisperos advised Flamiano to recuse himself because he will likely be called as a witness, the Bar lawyer said.

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