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Everybody Smokes in Hell

The Legend of Los Angeles Attorney Disbarment Icon William Wells

Attorney William Wells of Los Angeles was disbarred April 29, 2011 and ordered to make a quarter of a million dollars in restitution and attorney’s fees.  The court also issued an order to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court – Duties of disbarred, resigned, or suspended attorneys.

This Los Angeles Attorney Disbarment was the result of a 10-year real property investment dispute between Mr. Wells and his former longtime litigation secretary Barbara Dailey.  This epic legal battle was over ownership of a piece of commercial real estate located in Corona, California. Dailey consistently maintained that she acquired the property as a retirement investment at Wells’ urging. Wells unsuccessfully filed multiple civil lawsuits for breach of contract and fraud against legal secretary Dailey, alleging that he holds title to the commercial property.

Ms. Dailey eventually filed a formal complaint with the California State Bar, after spending tens of thousands of dollars defending her right to the property and enduring decades of civil litigation. The state bar filed formal charges against Wells and he then engaged in extensive pretrial proceedings. During a 24-day trial Los Angeles attorney disbarment icon Wells filed 144 mostly frivolous motions. At his Los Angeles attorney disbarment hearing the judge found he committed six acts of misconduct, including moral turpitude and perjury. Los Angeles attorney disbarment superstar Wells was also found guilty of misappropriating more than $88,000 in settlement proceeds from Dailey and an additional $60,000 security deposit from a tenant on the property. He also failed to provide her legal file, pay her additional money he owed and he filed an abusive and maliciously frivolous action against his former secretary.

Los Angeles Attorney Disbarment Superstar

Wells appealed the hearing judge’s disbarment recommendation to the California State Bar Court review department. The review upheld the recommendation and said it was affected by two factors: Numerous trial and appellate courts found that Dailey owns the property, and the hearing judge found that much of Wells’ testimony lacked credibility because it was “evasive, hostile, and inconsistent and implausible.”

Dailey, who was Wells’ litigation secretary in the 1960s, acquired the rundown gas station and Mexican restaurant property at Los Angeles attorney disbarment poster boy Wells’ urging to secure her retirement. Wells lied under oath and testified that Dailey held the property in trust for his benefit. He managed the property, collected rent and paid expenses until 1998, when his relationship with Dailey deteriorated and she quit working for his law firm.

The experienced litigation secretary hired a lawyer, asked for copies of contracts and an accounting of all financial matters Wells had handled. Wells claimed he owned the commercial property and licensing and franchising rights.

In seventeen separate civil lawsuits, some filed against Dailey in which Wells acted as her attorney, the courts confirmed Dailey as the property owner. In one case, the court ordered that Dailey should receive $88,029.19 from the opposing side and a bank transferred more than $118,000 to Wells to satisfy the judgment and his $28,000.10 fee award. He never gave Dailey any of the money. Nor did he give her a $60,000.69 security deposit she was owed from a tenant.

The review department also found that Wells filed an meritorious complaint in his wife’s name challenging Dailey’s ownership after the court found that Wells did not own the property.

“Wells engaged in a 10-year vendetta against Dailey,” wrote review Judge Judith Epstein. “He continues the same relentless tactics in this court, filing 144 motions, almost all of which were denied as unmeritorious. . . . Put simply, Wells went beyond tenacity to truculence.”

Los Angeles attorney disbarment legend Wells went down in flames faster than you can say: “Everybody smokes in hell.”