Absences earn lawyer a reprimand

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said attorney Darryl Genis contracts local cases out. Genis says he has a full-time associate lawyer who handles his San Luis Obispo County cases unless a client specifically pays for him to handle a case. Genis used to contract attorneys for routine appearances in San Luis Obispo County.

A Santa Barbara-based attorney who called a local judge “an embarrassment to our profession” lost an appeal of a sanction issued against him for failing to appear for multiple court dates in a case he was handling in San Luis Obispo Superior Court last year.

Darryl W. Genis was sanctioned by Judge Jac Crawford for his “failure to appear personally at several readiness conferences, after having been ordered to so, and after having been granted multiple continuances over a period of almost one year,” according to an appellate decision this month by San Luis Obispo Superior Court judges Charles Crandall, John Trice and Michael Duffy.

But Genis says Crawford was out of line in issuing him a sanction of $750. Genis said he vows to exhaust all legal avenues to fight the penalty.

Crawford was not contacted for comment because judges do not discuss cases they’re involved with due to ethical constraints and concerns related to appeals of cases.

Sanctions are extreme measures that judges take against attorneys who violate professional standards. A sanction can be issued after warnings about a lawyer’s conduct.

Genis was the attorney of record in a driving-under-the-influence case in May 2010. Genis said he used to regularly appear in San Luis Obispo County cases.

The appellate court consisting of the three local judges said Crawford “did not abuse his discretion” and that he was “justifiably frustrated by (Genis’) failure to appear.”

The court went on to cite Genis’ lack of decorum in his arguments to the appellate panel, which included calling Crawford an embarrassment and saying “he was the epitome of the completely sealed and closed-shut mind ... a human mind is a lot like a parachute. If it doesn’t open, it will get you killed someday,” the judges cited Genis as saying.

The judges described Genis as “confrontational, accusatory and disdainful” and said the law is dependent on lawyers treating judicial officers with respect.

Genis argued that he found other attorneys to fill in for him at the hearings for the DUI case, adding that the case was not substantially affected and he would have been ready for trial on April 18, 2011.

He said that other cases and a legal training conference out of state kept him from personally attending three readiness conferences during April 2011. And he said he claimed Crawford’s order requiring him to appear was not valid.

He claims he’s being considered a “fly in the ointment” because he’s willing to stick up for clients and has personal history with Crawford, claiming the judge failed to penalize a police officer who lied in a previous case Genis was involved with.