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One of the most basic rules of lawyering is not to bad-mouth the judge: Los Angeles attorney Debra Koven seems to have missed that class. Last week, the 2nd District Court of Appeal held the solo practitioner in contempt, fined her $2,000 and referred her to the State Bar for investigation for impugning the court’s integrity in two venom-dripping petitions for rehearing. Even an apology — accepted by the court — didn’t get Koven off the hook. “The tone of Koven’s petitions for rehearing is spiteful and malicious,” a panel comprising Justices Arthur Gilbert, Kenneth Yegan and Steven Perren held in an unsigned decision. “Our impression is that she was more concerned with venting her anger upon this court than advancing the interests of her client.” Koven represented Paul Bashkin in a legal malpractice case against now-deceased La Quinta lawyer DeWitt Blase Jr. and the firm Heily & Blase, which had represented Bashkin in an earlier legal and medical malpractice case. After losing Bashkin’s case at the trial court level and on appeal, Koven filed petitions for rehearing that questioned the impartiality of the 2nd District’s Division 6, made up of Justices Gilbert, Yegan, Perren and Paul Coffee. She accused the justices of bias against her client, pre-determining the judgment and fixing the case so that her opponent would prevail. “Koven’s charges are not only false, they are outrageous,” the court ruled. “We can think of no accusation more serious or injurious to a court’s reputation than that it ‘conspired’ with a party to ‘fix’ the case.” The justices also called Koven a “repeat offender,” noting that she had similarly impugned Ventura County Superior Court Judge Kent Kellegrew, as well as the opposing trial counsel and opposing expert witnesses. “It appears to us that Koven’s approach to litigation focuses upon impugning the integrity of everyone in the legal system, whether judges, justices, attorneys or expert witnesses, who obstruct the achievement of her goals,” the court ruled. “This shows a pattern of abuse which serves to aggravate the contempts committed here.” Koven declined to comment Tuesday, saying she hadn’t seen the decision. She is a graduate of Fullerton’s Western State University Law School, and was admitted to the Bar in 1990. The published opinion is In re Koven, B184017.

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