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A lawyer who didn’t show up for a California Supreme Court argument last week has gone on the offensive, accusing his former boss of lying to the court about his firm’s failure to appear. In a letter delivered to Chief Justice Ronald George on Friday, Allen Kent said that Raul Aguilar, his employer of nearly 11 years, wasn’t truthful when he told the court and the media that he didn’t know his firm had a case before the high court in Sacramento on Feb. 10. “The true facts are that Mr. Aguilar reviewed the Supreme Court’s notice of oral argument the date that this notice was received in the office,” Kent’s attorney, San Francisco solo Philip Ryan, wrote in the three-page letter. “This is so because Mr. Aguilar” — who heads Kent’s former firm, Aguilar & Sebastinelli — “reviews all incoming mail before it is disseminated or circulated to any of the lawyers he employs.” Ryan went on to say that Kent communicated with Aguilar several times on the “hearing date, time and the subject” of oral argument, provided written points to be made in court and discussed the case with two other lawyers at the firm — Dominic Flamiano and William Henley — before and after he left his firm on Feb. 5. “Since Mr. Kent was no longer employed by Aguilar & Sebastinelli, he could not make the oral argument,” the letter states. “Mr. Kent advised them that Mr. Aguilar would undoubtedly ask one of them to handle the oral argument.” Flamiano was named attorney of record on Wednesday. Reached Friday, Aguilar called Ryan’s letter “interesting,” and said he disagreed with “99 percent of it.” He said he plans to provide the Supreme Court with Kent’s work product on the case, in an attempt to defuse the allegations. “I don’t want to get into a spitting contest. It’s not productive,” he said. “But I want to make sure I’m covered.” Aguilar also said he would be “more than happy” to talk to the chief justice. “Only a fool would not show up at a Supreme Court hearing,” he said. “I’m many things and fool is not at the top of the list.” The court’s seven justices didn’t know what to think Feb. 10 when Kent didn’t appear for oral argument in Aguilar v. Lerner, S099667, in which Kent had been representing Aguilar in a suit stemming from a malpractice claim against a San Francisco divorce lawyer. At issue was whether an arbitration clause in an attorney-client fee agreement violates the state’s mandatory fee arbitration clauses. Contacted by telephone by Supreme Court Clerk and Administrator Frederich Ohlrich, Aguilar said he didn’t know where Kent was and wasn’t aware that the case was set for argument that day. The chief justice said in open court that Kent could face a contempt order or be reported to the State Bar. Ryan’s letter to the Supreme Court argues that in mid-January, Kent provided a status report on five cases, including one in Los Angeles’ 2nd District Court of Appeal that was scheduled for argument on the same day as the Supreme Court case. He also argued that the firm of Aguilar & Sebastinelli, not Kent, was the attorney of record in the Supreme Court case. “I think that basically Aguilar blew the court off,” Ryan said Friday. “You can quote me on that.” In any case, the episode has degenerated into finger-pointing. “Either Mr. Kent is lying, or his attorney is lying, or Mr. Aguilar is lying,” Ryan said. Ryan also said that Kent resigned from the firm only after being given a 25 percent pay cut, allegedly after the firm got hit with $500,000 in attorney fees in a case against the firm’s landlord that was handled by Kent. Ryan said Aguilar had rejected a settlement proposed by Kent that would have netted the firm $75,000. Aguilar wouldn’t comment on the allegations, other than to say they were “incorrect.” He also said he feels Kent is “airing dirty laundry. Clearly, in my opinion, he’s preparing a case to protect himself against any discipline from the court.” Ryan said that Kent, a 37-year lawyer, is continuing to practice law, but he wouldn’t say where. He also said Kent was disappointed about not getting to argue before the Supreme Court. “Frankly, Allen was greatly looking forward to oral argument and was really prepared,” Ryan said. “He said the last time he argued in the Supreme Court was 30 years ago, and he established a precedent.”

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