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Two San Francisco Superior Court judges have been subpoenaed to testify against a lawyer who faces State Bar sanctions for allegedly pulling a fast one on the trial court to get a disputed settlement approved. State Bar deputy trial counsel Robert Henderson confirmed on Wednesday that Judges Robert Dondero and Donna Hitchens were called as potential witnesses against Brett Pedersen, who will be tried in a State Bar court next month. The charges stem from Pedersen’s handling of a suit over a residential property sale in San Francisco’s Excelsior district. Two years ago, according to papers filed by the State Bar, Pedersen twice tried to get court approval for a $40,000 settlement even though the opposing side had withdrawn from the agreement. Charges filed by State Bar deputy trial counsel Erica Dennings accuse Pedersen of willfully violating Business and Professions Code ��6068(d) and 6106 for “employing means which are inconsistent with the truth,” “seeking to mislead [a] judge by an artifice or false statement of fact or law” and “committed an act of moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption.” Pedersen said in a voice message Tuesday that the upcoming State Bar trial marks the sixth time his conduct in the case Hernandez v. Prudential California Realty, CGC-01-324187 will be challenged in sanctions or contempt proceedings. In July 2004, the San Francisco Superior Court found that Pedersen had violated Code of Civil Procedure �128.7 and ordered him to pay almost $6,000 in sanctions. An appellate court panel later reversed the imposition of sanctions but asked the trial court to weigh contempt proceedings against Pedersen. Then in January, Pedersen escaped a conviction on contempt charges when Judge James McBride concluded that formal charges against him had been overwhelmed by a combination of technical flaws. “Although Pedersen’s conduct is reprehensible and almost certainly constitutes an act of deceit on the court, there are impediments to his conviction of the charge,” McBride wrote. Pedersen, who has practiced law for 16 years and who heads a three-attorney general law practice in San Francisco, said he’s done nothing wrong, and that opposing counsel improperly reneged on the settlement agreement. “I think you can look at the facts themselves. You’ll see that nothing improper happened, and it’s just a witch hunt by [Judge] Dondero and the plaintiff’s attorney [Miller & Beck's Eric Miller],” Pedersen said in a voice message. Miller, who is also under subpoena as a potential witness for the State Bar, said Wednesday it was Pedersen, not he, who made a false representation to the court. According to State Bar papers, Hitchens, who was then presiding judge in the San Francisco court, approved the disputed Hernandez settlement in May 2004 without knowing that the agreement had fallen through. The court later vacated that decision after Miller moved to set aside the settlement and requested sanctions against Pedersen. “It all wound up being OK, because the judgment was set aside,” Miller said. “But I thought it was improper conduct, and I think Judge Dondero felt the same way.” Hitchens declined to comment, and Dondero could not be reached Wednesday. Pedersen’s defense lawyer James Farragher Campbell couldn’t be reached either. Pedersen’s State Bar court hearing has been set for Jan. 29 in front of Judge Richard Platel. The case number is 05-O-02315.

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