On Wednesday, October 18, 2023, the Supreme Court of California issued a final disciplinary order against attorney Norbert Stahl. The court found Stahl guilty of professional misconduct and ordered him to be disbarred from practicing law in California.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Norbert Stahl,” with case no. S280629.
The State Bar of California has filed a notice of disciplinary charges against Norbert Stahl on November 2, 2021. The charges include failure to follow a court order, failure to maintain respect due to the courts, failure to report a judgment of breach of fiduciary duty, seeking to mislead a judge, and failure to update membership address.
The charges stemmed from Stahl’s representation of Apex Medical Technologies, Zone Medical, Mark McGlothlin, Alice DePaul, and Michael Marasco in a federal patent infringement lawsuit filed in 2007. After Stahl attempted to collect unpaid legal fees from the clients, they accused him of errors and sued him for malpractice in San Diego Superior Court. During the malpractice trial, Stahl was sanctioned twice by the court for repeatedly failing to produce documents and cooperate with the taking of a deposition, which the court called “unacceptable gamesmanship.” Stahl failed to pay the sanctions in a timely manner in violation of court orders.
He was also accused of misleading the Superior Court during a hearing on the sanctions. While attempting to excuse his late payment, Stahl argued he was not served with the sanctions order, despite evidence that he was personally handed a copy in court. In May 2015, a jury found Stahl liable for breach of fiduciary duty and awarded damages to his former clients. However, Stahl failed to report this adverse judgment to the State Bar as required.
Finally, the charges alleged Stahl abandoned his San Carlos law office in 2017 but failed to update his address with the State Bar as mandated. His current whereabouts and practice status were unknown. This was not the first time Stahl had faced lawyer discipline. The State Bar Court previously imposed a 30-day actual suspension on Stahl in an unrelated case for misconduct including intentionally misleading a government agency.
Stahl denied all the charges. However, he failed to appear for two scheduled disciplinary trials in April 2022 and October 2022, resulting in defaults being entered against him both times.
In its order, the state’s highest court denied Stahl’s petition for review and ordered him disbarred. Stahl will have his name stricken from the roll of attorneys.
As part of the disbarment, Stahl must comply with notification requirements to clients outlined in Rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He must identify any clients he is currently representing and inform them about the disbarment, in addition to notifying any other affected individuals. These notifications must be made within 30 and 40 days of the order.
Additionally, the court ordered Stahl to pay $5,000 in sanctions to the State Bar’s Client Security Fund. The monetary sanctions are considered an enforceable debt that can be collected through normal means. The Supreme Court also awarded costs to the State Bar for the disciplinary proceedings, which are also considered an enforceable money judgment.
According to avvo.com, Mr. Stahl practiced as an intellectual property attorney in San Carlos, California prior to his disbarment. He attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He acquired his law license in California in 1998.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.