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Lawyer who advised homeowners to break into their foreclosed homes has license revoked

April 28, 2011 |  5:33 pm

The State Bar of California on Thursday revoked attorney Michael T. Pines’ license to practice law, branding him “a substantial threat of harm to the public” because of his advice to foreclosure victims to break in and retake their homes.

Pines, whose law offices in Carlsbad were closed earlier this year, argues that most of the foreclosures and evictions of homeowners are conducted illegally because the banks and investment firms who claim ownership of distressed properties don’t have clear title to them.

The decision by State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn is a temporary measure, pending a hearing on disciplinary charges against Pines, the bar said in a statement.

A defiant Pines vowed to continue fighting the actions of big banks and investment groups putting homeowners out on the street, as well as state bar officials, whom he accuses of acting on behalf of the prominent law firms representing the banks -- and paying massive dues to the 232,000-member state lawyers’ association.

“It means absolutely nothing,” Pines, 59, said of the bar court ruling. “I will go right on doing what I have always done and it won't effect me at all, or my clients.”

The bar court, which operates independently of the state court system in handling internal legal matters, called Pines to a hearing on April 12, where he was accused of violating laws and ethical standards in advising clients to take the law into their own hands.

“Although Pines is a seasoned attorney, he seems to have lost his ability to distinguish between zealous advocacy and lawlessness,” Honn wrote in his 18-page ruling, adding that 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.”

Chief Trial Counsel Jim Towery said he was gratified that the bar court agreed Pines posed an imminent threat and was likely to continue violating court orders unless his license was revoked.

Deputy Trial Counsel Brooke Schafer said that in none of the cases in which Pines advised clients to reoccupy homes in Carlsbad, Newport Beach and Simi Valley did the former homeowners have a legal right to enter the premises.

--Carol J. Williams