State bar announces probe of L.A. lawyers Geragos, Kabateck over Armenian genocide settlement

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The State Bar of California announced Tuesday that two prominent Los Angeles attorneys are under investigation for their conduct in a landmark, multimillion-dollar settlement for Armenian genocide victims.

The public disclosure that lawyers Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck are under scrutiny came six months after a Times investigation revealed how the historic legal case devolved into corruption, diverted funds and disillusionment for ethnic Armenians around the world hoping for compensation.

The announcement by the state bar was highly unusual on two fronts: The agency’s investigations of lawyers are normally conducted in secret. And it has a reputation for shying away from probes of powerful attorneys, most clearly illustrated by its decades-long failure to rein in Tom Girardi, the now-disgraced megalawyer.

Ruben Duran, chair of the state bar’s governing board, opted to waive confidentiality under a little-invoked statute that allows officials to publicize an ongoing inquiry when it advances the agency’s stated mission — protection of the public.

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