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Michael T Pines - #77771

Current Status:  Disbarred

This member is prohibited from practicing law in California by order of the California Supreme Court.

See below for more details.

Profile Information

The following information is from the official records of The State Bar of California.

Bar Number: 77771    
Address: Pines & Associates
701 Palomar Airport Rd Ste 300
Carlsbad, CA 92011
Phone Number: (760) 453-0131
Fax Number: (760) 301-0093
e-mail: ucsaw@fcsgf.orgpjsfeuc@wywsgkyl.netkqtjkiara@pfuwfst.orgfbuoq@wndijpl.netaiwsygt@fbdbc.govspwafrrgi@tlqhypl.edumayel@pckl.orghhajspn@nehhwflg.orgcobnbdlrq@aqmqrncs.govuwbsh@josnrd.compgcynbh@wglnr.edukndetmfga@fyicmlqy.orginfo@pinesandassociates.comafenikb@fipsnbbb.govsmfrowysi@jfe.orgntgyu@uolsd.eduidhedts@nltbj.orgdlhi@hqgqe.orgwsinqs@dsuhuo.netpcjryfmy@nbhetnub.com 
County: San Diego
Undergraduate School: Univ of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh PA
District: District 4    
Sections: None Law School: Univ of San Diego SOL; San Diego CA

Status History

Effective Date Status Change
Present Disbarred
11/16/2012 Disbarred  
5/1/2011 Not Eligible To Practice Law  
12/21/1977 Admitted to The State Bar of California

Explanation of member status

Actions Affecting Eligibility to Practice Law

Effective DateDescriptionCase NumberResulting Status

Disciplinary and Related Actions

Overview of the attorney discipline system.

11/16/2012 Disbarment 10-O-10600 Disbarred 
6/14/2012 Ordered inactive 10-O-10600 Not Eligible To Practice Law 
12/30/2011 Interim suspension after conviction 10-C-10151 Not Eligible To Practice Law 
8/21/2011 Ordered inactive 10-O-10600 Not Eligible To Practice Law 
5/1/2011 Inactive - Irreparable injury (6007c) 11-TE-10948 Not Eligible To Practice Law 

Administrative Actions

7/1/2011 Suspended, failed to pay Bar membr. fees Not Eligible To Practice Law 


Copies of official attorney discipline records are available upon request.

Explanation of common actions

State Bar Court Cases

NOTE: The State Bar Court began posting public discipline documents online in 2005. The format and pagination of documents posted on this site may vary from the originals in the case file as a result of their translation from the original format into Word and PDF. Copies of additional related documents in a case are available upon request. Only Opinions designated for publication in the State Bar Court Reporter may be cited or relied on as precedent in State Bar Court proceedings. For further information about a case that is displayed here, please refer to the State Bar Court's online docket, which can be found at: http://apps.statebarcourt.ca.gov/dockets/dockets.aspx

DISCLAIMER: Any posted Notice of Disciplinary Charges, Conviction Transmittal or other initiating document, contains only allegations of professional misconduct. The attorney is presumed to be innocent of any misconduct warranting discipline until the charges have been proven.

Effective Date Case Number Description
11/16/2012 10-O-10600 Decision [PDF] [WORD]
12/30/2011 10-C-10151 Interim Suspension Order [PDF]
8/21/2011 10-O-10600 Order re Entry of Default [PDF]
5/1/2011 11-TE-10948 Decision [PDF] [WORD]
Pending 10-C-10151 Initiating Document [PDF]

California Bar Journal Discipline Summaries

Summaries from the California Bar Journal are based on discipline orders but are not the official records. Not all discipline actions have associated CBJ summaries. Copies of official attorney discipline records are available upon request.

November 16, 2012

MICHAEL T. PINES [#77771], 60, of Carlsbad was disbarred Nov. 16, 2012, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Pines failed to respond to charges of 18 counts of misconduct and his default was entered in August 2011. Under rule 5.85 of the bar’s Rules of Procedure, any attorney who does not respond to disciplinary charges and makes no move to set aside his default within 180 days is subject to disbarment.

The charges were deemed admitted when Pines’ default was entered. They involved his representation of three clients who lost their homes to foreclosure and advising them to retake their former homes by forcibly breaking into them after new owners had taken title.

In the first matter, Pines was charged with committing an act of moral turpitude by threatening the new property owner of his client’s former property, refusing to leave the property when instructed and violating the terms of temporary restraining orders. He failed to perform legal services competently by advising his clients they had a legal right to possess certain property when they did not. He also said the clients had the right to enter their former homes. Pines also made criminal threats and failed to provide respect to the courts.

In the second matter, he was charged with moral turpitude for advising his client to break into his former residence, trespass and aid and abet vandalism.

He helped other clients move back into their former homes, exposing them to civil and criminal liabilities by encouraging them to trespass, ignore police warnings and vandalize property. Pines also was charged with trespass and contempt of court.

Pines was placed on interim suspension last year following a conviction for misdemeanor attempted burglary.

May 1, 2011

Declaring that he poses a substantial threat of harm to the public, the State Bar Court lifted the law license of MICHAEL T. PINES, the Carlsbad attorney who made national headlines by advising clients to break into their foreclosed homes and start living there again. He was placed on involuntary inactive status May 1.

The court acted at the request of the bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel, which asked March 11 that Pines be prohibited from practicing. Under the State Bar Act, an attorney who causes substantial harm to clients or the public can be swiftly removed from practice when the evidence suggests the harmful behavior is likely to continue and when it is likely the bar will prevail on the merits of the case. The court’s action is an interim measure pending a hearing on disciplinary charges.

“The State Bar is very gratified that the court has agreed with us that Pines poses an imminent threat of harm to the public and therefore has removed him from active practice,” said Chief Trial Counsel Jim Towery. “Lawyers have an obligation to follow the law, not to break it. There are proper ways and improper ways for a lawyer to protest a court order. Taking the law into one’s own hands is an improper way and will subject the lawyer to discipline.” Michael T. Pines should not be confused with Michael Pines, a San Diego personal injury attorney who has been handling car accident cases since 1992. Mr. Pines (#140602) has no record of discipline.

Pines [#77771], 51, has been unapologetic about encouraging – and often physically helping – clients hire a locksmith to get into their foreclosed homes despite warnings from the court and police to stop the illegal activity. He has argued that the foreclosures themselves are illegal, so his clients have a right to repossession since they are still the legal owners of the homes.

But State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn found that Pines’ conduct harmed his clients, the public and the legal profession. “Although Pines is a seasoned attorney, he seems to have lost his ability to distinguish between zealous advocacy and lawlessness,” Honn wrote. “Legal decisions are to be made by the courts, not the litigants. (Pines’) unwillingness or inability to obey court orders and follow the laws of this state has tarnished the reputation of other attorneys and the legal community as a whole.”

The bar has 45 days to file formal charges. Towery said he expects the bar to seek Pines’ disbarment.

In the application for inactive enrollment, Deputy Trial Counsel Brooke Schafer noted that in none of the cases in which Pines advised his clients to re-enter their homes in Carlsbad, Newport Beach and Simi Valley did they have a legal right to do so. Pines “acts with calculated purpose,” Schafer wrote in the petition. “He is harming both his clients and the public by advising clients to take the law into their own hands, and he uses his law license as a weapon. By his behavior, actions and freely offered statements he is a clear – and ongoing – danger both to his clients and to the public.”

The petition, which notes that Pines has been cited for contempt as well as criminally cited three times in less than a week, referred to three serious incidents involving break-ins and other criminal acts between October 2010 and February 2011.

On Feb. 18, he was arrested for making threats against occupants of a house that used to be owned by one of his clients, cited for trespassing on the property the following day and cited for violating a temporary restraining order at the site four days after that. He told a court his clients may break into the property again.

In October, Pines gave Newport Beach police advance notice that he and a client were going to take possession of a house the client had lost in foreclosure. Pines had claimed the foreclosure was illegal even though his client had not prevailed in court. For five hours, Pines “kept approximately seven police officers and an assistant city attorney wrapped up in his media circus” until Pines and his client were arrested, Schafer wrote in the petition.

Also in October, Schafer wrote, Pines accompanied his clients to their foreclosed Simi Valley home and advised them to break in despite a court ruling forbidding such an action. The family remained in the house for several days until the new owner got another writ of possession.

In an 18-page ruling, Honn said Pines views himself as a modern-day Henry David Thoreau, “who encouraged civil disobedience to effect universal societal benefits, including ending slavery and war. But (Pines) is not Thoreau; his cause is not slavery or war.”

He “sought a few minutes of fame in front of reporters or the television cameras while he violated the law, or encouraged his clients to do so,” Honn wrote. “He used his clients as tools to accomplish these goals.”


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