The Supreme Court today said it will decide on the merits an original writ petition filed by the Los Angeles Times that seeks to make public State Bar records regarding investigations of now-suspended attorney Tom Girardi.

The Bar filed disciplinary charges against Girardi in March.  But the petition — in Los Angeles Times Communications v. State Bar of California — focuses particularly on earlier investigations that didn’t result in charges.

Claiming that its petition raises “questions hav[ing] profound significance for public trust in the state’s legal regulatory system,” the Times says that, despite a “lengthy record of alleged misconduct dating back more than a decade, Girardi had no record of public discipline by the State Bar until” the March charges.

Before the filing of the current charges, the Times published its own investigation — “Vegas parties, celebrities and boozy lunches:  How legal titan Tom Girardi seduced the State Bar.”

The petition invokes Business and Professions Code section 6086.1(b)(2), which allows the Bar’s chair or chief trial counsel to waive limited confidentiality of investigations “when warranted for protection of the public.”  According to the petition, the Bar asserted the waiver authority applies only to pending investigations, not closed matters.

The court issued an order to show cause and set October 1 as the date for the Bar and Girardi to formally respond.  The court will likely schedule an oral argument and issue a written opinion.

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