Fired California Bar official files whistle-blower suit against group
A judge's gavel (Shutterstock)

The fired executive director of the State Bar of California filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the organization on Thursday the same day that his termination was announced, according to a court document.

Joseph Dunn, a former Democratic State Senator who represented Orange County, alleged in the suit that he was dismissed without cause shortly after filing an anonymous complaint to the bar's trustees on Nov. 3, according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

"Senator Dunn's whistleblower notices identified serious ethical breaches, prosecutorial lapses and fiscal improprieties," said the complaint, a copy of which was published online by the California legal publication, The Recorder.

The bar said in a statement on Thursday that Dunn was no longer serving as the executive director. The lawyer's group could not be immediately reached to comment on the suit.

The case alleged that the bar's Chief Trial Counsel unlawfully removed backlogged cases ahead of an evaluation, and failed to prosecute certain legal fraud cases as required by a 2013 state law.

The complaint said Dunn regularly received positive reviews after becoming the chief executive in 2010, and had been awarded bonuses for his performance in recent years.

The Recorder said that Dunn's tenure was "marked by tumult and turnover."

The lawsuit is seeking Dunn's reinstatement as executive director, along with court costs, attorney's fees and damages.

The bar, which licenses and regulates the conduct of lawyers in the state, hosts over 249,000 members and is chiefly financed through fees paid by attorneys, according to its website.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco)