A federal judge in Fresno, Calif., has ordered the entire 80-lawyer firm of Lozano Smith back to school for a refresher course in ethics as a sanction for repeated misrepresentation of facts and the law in a dispute over aid for a learning-disabled student.
Fresno-based Lozano Smith represents 200 school districts in California on special-education issues and boasts on its Web site that it is "California's premier public agency law firm."
U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger sanctioned the firm recently for "misguided advocacy" over four years of opposing services for a special-education student in the Bret Harte Union School District, southeast of Sacramento.
In a scorching 83-page opinion, Wanger said Lozano Smith, its lead attorney in the case, Elaine Yama, and the district engaged in "repeated misstatements of the record, frivolous objections to plaintiff's statement of facts, and repeated mischaracterizations of the law." . .
[I]n his highly unusual sanction, Wanger ordered every one of the firm's 80 lawyers in seven cities to undergo six hours of ethics training and ordered [lead attorney Elaine] Yama to take 20 hours.