Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Harvard Wetslake: Caplins attorney allegedly suspended for three years in 2000

Reader Tip: Harvard Westlake litigation articles are here in the archive.

Important Update

Note: Hassett was replaced as plaintiff counsel, May 2005. Caplins' new attorney is:
Jennifer L. Lynch, Attorney At Law;
St. Bar #157020
380 S. Melrose Dr., Suite 208
Vista, Ca. 92083
Tele: (760) 643-4113
Correction Above should read "Westlake", not "Wetslake".

* * *

The following information applies only to Hassett, not repeat NOT current plaintiff counsel

2000: Hassett on three years probation, suspended for one year

Correction The information contained below reflects a suspension; the probation term was three years. The term of the suspension was one year. We regret the error with our confusion.

The Caplins' former attorney was the subject of a California state Bar action in 2000. Copies of these findings are contained below with some highlighting added.


Note: These links are listed only for discussion purposes only, and are not necessarily related to Hassett.

Current rule: Attorney compliance with State bar.

Current rule: Communication with clients.

Current rule: Communicating settlements to a client.

Current rule: Attorney competence requirement.

Current rule: Termination of attorney representation.

Current rule: 5-100(B) in re misleading statements to court/judge.

CA State Bar Ethics opinions

  • Client papers and witholding

  • Discovery sanctions in re refusal to comply

  • Settlement considerations and client settlement rights in re attorney awards.

  • Unable to locate client

  • Information allegedly related to the Caplin's attorney


    CHARLOTTE A. HASSETT [#140285], 51, of Beverly Hills was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Oct. 5, 2000.

    Hassett stipulated that she did not perform legal services competently or keep her clients informed about developments in their claim against a hospital and two doctors for performing an unauthorized procedure on their infant son.

    Although Hassett filed a complaint in March 1994, she did not appear at two hearings and the case was dismissed in February 1995. She did not tell her clients or return eight telephone messages seeking information about the case. About a month later, Hassett filed for reconsideration without her clientsÂ’ consent; she still had not told them about the dismissal. She did not respond to a request to return the clientsÂ’ file so they could find a new attorney.

    The case was reinstated, Hassett was sanctioned $500, she failed to appear at a status conference and was sanctioned another $780. She still did not tell the clients about the dismissal and reinstatement of their case.

    The defendant hospital brought motions to compel Hassett to respond to requests for production of documents and to respond to interrogatories and requested sanctions. Although Hassett failed to appear at the hearing, it was ordered off calendar because the discovery deadline had passed. She then failed to appear at another hearing and was sanctioned $780.

    The case eventually went to arbitration, where the minor was awarded $15,000, but because Hassett did not obtain the courtÂ’s required approval, the settlement could not be finalized.

    When the clients obtained new counsel, she did not provide their file.

    Hassett stipulated that she failed to respond to client inquiries, keep clients informed about significant developments in their case, perform legal services competently or release client papers.

    Hassett also was disciplined last April for misleading a judge by making false statements, failing to cooperate with the barÂ’s investigation or to keep her address current with the bar, and for committing an act of moral turpitude.

    In mitigation, she cooperated with the barÂ’s investigation.


    CHARLOTTE A. HASSETT [#140285], 51, of Beverly Hills was suspended for one year, stayed, was actually suspended for 90 days and until she makes restitution and the State Bar Court grants a motion to terminate the actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, she must prove her rehabilitation. The order took effect Sept. 7, 2000.

    In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that in a legal malpractice matter in which Hassett represented the defendant, she made misleading statements to the judge, an act of moral turpitude. She also did not cooperate with the barÂ’s investigation.

    The court entered judgment against HassettÂ’s client and the opposing client sought fees and costs. A month after Hassett received the motion, she sought a delay, telling opposing counsel she had not had time to prepare a response even though she had received the papers in a timely manner and that she was not certain whether she was to continue to represent her client.

    However, she later submitted a signed declaration to the court that she received the motion late. She did not respond to a request by opposing counsel that she sign a new declaration that her earlier statement to the court was incorrect. The judge eventually imposed sanctions on Hassett, which she did not pay.

    Media Alert: Heads-up on what she might look like

    This may not be her:

    Caplin's former attorney is allegedly second from the right on the far-right

    Photo caption:

    SPECIAL HONORS FOR D.A.R.—Beverly Hills Mayor MeraLee Goldman and the City Council recently honored the Beverly Hills Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, and proclaimed September 17 through 24 as Constitution Week. Shown above (left to right) are Constitution Week Committee members Veneice Williams Marrone, Carole Curb Nemoy, Joan Griffin, and Committee chairperson Charlotte Hassett. Mayor Goldman is at the podium to present the City Proclamation to the committee.


    Mayor MeraLee Goldman is the fifth from the left, or on the far right.

    Chrlotte Hassette is allegedly the second from the right, or fourth from the left [after Marrone, Nemoy, Griffin], or to the Mayor's right.

    In otherwords, we made an error: Hassette, if she is the attorney depicted in the image above, cannot be on the far right, nor is there a podium. Rather, the Mayor Goldman [far right] is simply holding the proclomation in her hand.

    I don't see a "podium" in front; I see a podium [maybe] in the back:
    Mayor Goldman is at the podium to present the City Proclamation to the committee.

    Here is a picture of Mayor MaraLee Goldman; this is not Charlotte Hassette, and Mayor Goldman has not been suspended at any time by the California State bar:

    We apologize to both Charolotte Hassett for failing to realize that she was no longer plaintiff counsel; and we apologize to Mayor Goldman, who we incorrectly identified as Charlotte Hassette. We regret our errors, apologize for the confusion. [Indeed, there are a number of errors on this page, which we'll strive to be correct.]

    Other Sources In re Charlotte Hassett Bar Number # 140285

    CA State Bar: 9/7/2000 Discipline w/actual suspension [Case: 97-O-16574]

    Citizens for Legal Responsibility] [Registered trademark]
    P.O. Box 232
    Morton Grove, Illinois 60053-0232

    Media Relations

    Many media outlets including CBS, NBC and the Washington Post did background research on Charlotte Hassett, the attorney for the Caplins in the lawsuit against Harvard-Westlake. It appears this was primarily related to the Gigi Goyette and Schwarzenegger matter, not necessarily specific to Hassett's representation of Caplins in the Westlakeestalake matter..

    Trial publicity rule.

  • Aug 2005: Hassett reportedly comments on client contact with TIME

    Hassett is the lawyer for Malibu resident Gigi Goyette. MyWire reports Hassett characterized the contact between Goyette and TIME as "more of a massage situation — however you want to interpret that."

  • Non availability of client for media interviews

    We assume that this quote this quote references Hassett: "her lawyer said that Goyette was traveling and could not immediately be reached for comment">

  • Attorney answering machine and phone number

    The Washington Post writes, "A message left on Goyette's answering machine was not returned. Neither were messages left at a >number the California Bar Association listed for her attorney, Charlotte Hassett." Ref

    Litigation interviews with Hassett

    Before going final, the producers and editors may want to follow-up on the following issues:

  • Is the information related to the attorney suspensions correct;

  • How were the issues in these California State Bar actions addressed and resolved;

  • Are there other clients who can speak to these issues;

  • Are there any comments or feedback from the previous clients who were parties to the disputes on the original cases; and

  • Have the opposing counsel been satisfied in how the communications have been during the settlement negotiations?