The State Bar of California is investigating possible ethics violations against Scott Bloch, who led the Office of Special Counsel during the George W. Bush administration, court records in Washington show.
The pending disciplinary proceeding, which began in August, is rooted in Bloch's effort to erase files on government-issued computers in his office, according to court records filed on Dec. 19 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Bloch pleaded guilty in February to the misdemeanor charge of destruction of government property. In June, U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins sentenced him to two years' probation and to spend one day in jail.
At the time of the computer files erasure in 2007, the inspector general of the federal Office of Personnel Management was investigating Bloch over claims he retaliated against employees in his office. Wilkins in court questioned Bloch's position that he ordered computers wiped amid a concern about viruses.
"The depredation of property seems to have gone beyond just the innocent explanation of there being a virus and therefore a wipe is necessary to get rid of the virus," Wilkins said in court on June 24. Later, Bloch, a solo practitioner in Washington, said he was unsure whether the conviction would affect his law license.
The California bar wants to depose the chief information officer at the Office of Special Counsel, according to the court papers filed last week.
Kevin Laden, an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, said in the papers that the subpoena "seeks the testimony of a United States employee on matters concerning the performance of his official duties."
Bloch said today in an email that he is cooperating with the bar investigation. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia declined to comment regarding any challenge to the subpoena.
Lisa Terry, general counsel for the Office of Special Counsel, told a California bar senior trial lawyer in earlier December that the office would not agree to a deposition of its chief information officer. Terry said OSC had given "careful consideration" to the California bar's deposition request.
"We are not in the position to elaborate further on the bases for our determination," Terry wrote to California bar senior counsel Robert Henderson, according to court records. The office, Terry continued, "does not make this determination lightly considering the importance of these proceedings to the California State Bar."
Henderson said in a declaration signed on Dec. 10 that the deposition "is relevant and material" to whether Bloch's criminal conviction "involved moral turpitude or other conduct warranting discipline."
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she would assign the subpoena matter to a magistrate judge.