On Wednesday, January 10, 2024, the Supreme Court of California disbarred attorney Gregory Harper in a final order. Harper had been recommended for disbarment by the State Bar Court in 2019 for misconduct involving a client’s disputed funds and misrepresentations to the State Bar.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Gregory Harper,” with case no. S281974.

The case against Harper dates back to 2017 when a client, Evigne DeJoie, filed a complaint alleging Harper represented her in a case against a bank without a signed fee agreement and agreed to an improper fee split with her non-attorney father. Records showed Harper failed to hold DeJoie’s disputed funds in trust during a pending fee arbitration over the matter.

In October 2018, the State Bar filed charges against Harper for violating rules regarding client funds and making misrepresentations during its investigation. At a 2019 trial, the State Bar Court found Harper culpable on all three charges and recommended disbarment.

Harper had two prior records of discipline from the 1990s and 2000s. Both involved violations related to improper use of his client’s trust account, including commingling personal funds and paying office or personal expenses directly from the account. These prior offenses were cited as aggravating factors in the State Bar Court’s 2019 decision.

In appealing to the Supreme Court, Harper argued the State Bar’s disciplinary process has a disparate impact on Black male attorneys. However, in its closing brief, the State Bar asserted the data from studies on this issue do not support Harper’s claims as applied to his case.

While one study found Black male attorneys received overall discipline at a higher rate than White males from 1990-2009, the State Bar said two key factors—number of complaints and attorney representation—made this disparity statistically insignificant. Additionally, no specific State Bar policy or practice was shown to have caused disparate impacts, either generally or on Harper personally due to his race.

The State Bar also noted Harper’s prior discipline involved the same trust account violations as the current matter. Under the standard of attorney sanction guidelines, disbarment is generally warranted when an attorney with two prior discipline records commits further misconduct.

Despite Harper’s attempt to argue implicit bias in the disciplinary system, the Supreme Court ultimately found no evidence the State Bar’s handling of his case was discriminatory. In its order, the high court denied Harper’s petition for review and upheld the disbarment recommended by the State Bar Court.

The Disposition states:

“The court orders that Gregory Harper (Respondent), State Bar Number 146119, is disbarred from the practice of law in California and that Respondent’s name is stricken from the roll of attorneys.”

According to apps.calbar.ca.gov, Mr. Harper acquired his law license in California in 1990.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.