Super-Lawyer Pierce O'Donnell suspended by the State Bar Over Illegal Campaign Contributions

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Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 1:50 PM
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In the summer of 2009, super-lawyer Pierce O'Donnell, who had been embroiled in a rash of campaign contribution allegations and violations, told the LA Times he was back in business.

Now, less than two years later, however, O'Donnell has been sidelined.

The State Bar of California recently disciplined the master barrister - famous for representing Art Buchwald against Paramount Pictures in the "Coming to America" case and for getting more than $100 million from BP Arco in a pollution case - suspending O'Donnell for two months and placing him on probation for two years.

The suspension, imposed February 23, is connected to O'Donnell's 2006 conviction for five misdemeanor counts of using a false name in making political contributions, according to the state bar.

O'Donnell, who ran for the U.S. Congress more than 30 years ago, was accused of promising to reimburse his employees for contributions made to former LA Mayor James K. Hahn during the 2001 campaign after O'Donnell failed to raise a $50,000 pledge.

As a result, 26 people in or connected to O'Donnell's office coughed up campaign donations. The LA City Attorney later charged O'Donnell with 26 counts of using a false name in making political contributions; O'Donnell eventually pleaded no contest to five counts.

In his disciplinary decision, Judge of the State Bar Richard A. Platel noted that O'Donnell had no prior record of discipline over his 29 years in practice, "displayed spontaneous candor and cooperation," and "demonstrated remorse."

Once the suspension is over, however, it doesn't mean O'Donnell is completely out of the woods.

As reported by the Metropolitan News-Enterprise:

"O'Donnell also faces federal charges of using relatives and employees as conduits for illegal donations to the first presidential campaign of then-Sen. John Edwards. Those charges, previously dismissed, were reinstated last year by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "

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