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The legal careers of Robert Noel and Robert Roland, two San Francisco lawyers who made headlines for very different and scandalous reasons, may be over. The State Bar Court, which disciplines troubled attorneys, recommended in two rulings on Tuesday that both men be disbarred from practicing law. The final decision is up to the California Supreme Court. Noel and his wife, Marjorie Knoller, made national news in 2001 when their two huge Presa Canario dogs mauled to death a neighbor, Diane Whipple, in their Pacific Heights apartment building. Both were sentenced to four years in prison in 2002, but were released early on parole. Knoller’s case is pending before the California Supreme Court. However, Noel’s appeal of his separate involuntary manslaughter conviction was rejected. Roland, a former San Francisco assistant district attorney, was thrust into the spotlight last year when he was charged with trading drugs for leniency in court cases. Two months ago, he was sentenced to six months in federal prison after pleading guilty to possessing Ecstasy with the intent to distribute. Oddly, the decision in Noel’s case had nothing to do with his underlying conviction. Instead, he was dinged for ignoring State Bar rules that require suspended or disbarred attorneys to notify clients and opposing counsel of their inability to practice. State Bar Court Judge Patrice McElroy found that Noel, who was suspended in 2002, had made no effort to comply. “[He] demonstrated indifference,” she wrote, “toward rectification of or atonement for the consequences of his misconduct.” State Bar chief trial counsel Scott Drexel said that as a result of Tuesday’s disbarment proposal, a separate State Bar case based on Noel’s involuntary manslaughter conviction will be dismissed as moot. Both Drexel and Judge McElroy noted that Noel made no effort to contest the charges against him for violating State Bar rules. He didn’t show up for any hearings and wasn’t represented by other lawyers for what the State Bar considers “extremely serious misconduct.” “It would undermine the integrity of the disciplinary system and damage public confidence in the legal system,” McElroy wrote, “if [Noel] were not disbarred for his unexplained willful disobedience.” Noel � who was admitted to the Bar on May 6, 1976 � had little to say on Thursday other than that he expected disbarment and had no interest in appealing to the Supreme Court. “I’m perfectly happy not to practice law ever again,” he said. “I’m just happy doing what I’m doing now.” When asked how he’s making a living, Noel replied, “This and that.” In Roland’s case, State Bar Court Presiding Judge Ronald Stovitz recommended summary disbarment after declaring his crime a felony involving moral turpitude. Under those circumstances, California statutes allow the State Bar to banish lawyers without a trial. “In his plea agreement,” Stovitz wrote, “[Roland] admitted that he knowingly possessed a controlled substance with the intent to deliver it.” Drexel said Thursday that if cases meet the criteria for summary disbarment, “we feel we don’t have the discretion to seek it in one case and not another.” San Francisco attorney Doron Weinberg, who represented Roland on the discipline charges, was surprised by Tuesday’s ruling and believes the court relied on an erroneous interpretation of moral turpitude. The definition changed 10 years ago, he said, to require summary disbarment only in cases in which the crime inherently involved moral turpitude. “The crime [Roland] pled to,” the Weinberg & Wilder partner said, “did not inherently involve moral turpitude.” He said “logic” and “case law” support that contention. Weinberg vowed to seek Supreme Court review. Cristina Arguedas, who represented Roland against the criminal charges in federal court, wouldn’t comment on the disbarment proposal. But she confirmed that Roland � who became a lawyer on Dec. 2, 1999 � is in federal prison. “He’s doing his time and he’s doing really well,” she said. “He has just this great mental attitude that’s really positive and is making the best of it. He’s reading books and trying to keep in shape.” Under State Bar rules, disbarred attorneys are allowed to seek reinstatement five years after they were originally suspended. That would make Roland eligible in April 2011 and Noel in April 2007. The rulings are In the Matter of Roland, 05-C-02767, and In the Matter of Noel, 06-N-11292.

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