Rachel Marshall / (415) 416-4468 / Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org
Director of Communications / Policy Advisor / Assistant District Attorney
San Francisco – Today, District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced new charges against Russell A. Robinson, a now-disbarred San Francisco-based attorney, who is alleged to have continued to engage in the unauthorized practice of law and willfully failed to comply with the California Supreme Court’s disbarment order. The District Attorney’s Office had filed felony charges against Mr. Robinson in November of 2021; since the announcement of those charges, new victims came forward, and the District Attorney’s Office is now filing additional charges against him in a second case.
“My administration is committed to holding accountable those who abuse their power to take advantage of people in need,” said District Attorney Chesa Boudin. “The public should be able to trust lawyers to follow the law, but here a disbarred attorney exploited his clients by continuing to practice as an attorney. We are glad that our initial announcement filing charges helped identify additional victims, so we can seek justice for everyone he has wronged.”
According to public documents, Mr. Robinson was placed on involuntary inactive status by the California State Bar in June 2019, and was not authorized to practice law after that time. The California Supreme Court ordered him disbarred in June 2021.
The District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Mr. Robinson in November 2021 for continuing to practice as an attorney, making false statements to induce a client to retain his services, and filing a lawsuit on the client’s behalf in a California Superior Court. As a part of that lawsuit, it is alleged that Mr. Robinson filed with the Court numerous false documents bearing the forged signatures of a licensed attorney and a legal assistant. Mr. Robinson has been charged with multiple felonies, including the unauthorized practice of law, grand theft, identity theft, forgery, and others. That case is ongoing. (See the District Attorney’s previous press release about those charges.)
The announcement of the District Attorney’s case against Mr. Robinson prompted additional victims to report that Mr. Robinson unlawfully acted as their attorney, too. According to new witnesses and new records obtained, Mr. Robinson was hired by one victim after the victim was falsely arrested, and Mr. Robinson filed a federal lawsuit on his behalf. But that case was dismissed in October 2018 because Mr. Robinson failed to prosecute it. Nevertheless, for the past several years, Mr. Robinson has continued to communicate with the victim as if the case was ongoing, even going so far as to pretend that he had attended non-existent court hearings and received settlement offers. It was not until learning about the charges against Mr. Robinson that the victim discovered that his case had been dismissed years earlier. It is alleged that Mr. Robinson had never told the victim that he was suspended from practicing law as of June 2019 or disbarred in June 2021.
Also according to new witnesses and new records obtained, Mr. Robinson was hired by another victim and filed a civil lawsuit on his behalf in San Francisco Superior Court. Although the court ordered that case stayed in November 2018 pending arbitration proceedings, and the defendants’ counsel reported not hearing from Mr. Robinson since at least June 2019, Mr. Robinson nevertheless continued to communicate with the victim throughout 2019, 2020, and 2021 as if he was working on the case. Mr. Robinson did not tell the victim until December 2021 that he was not eligible to practice law.
For these additional crimes, Mr. Robinson has been charged with the following felony counts:
- Two felony counts of Unauthorized Practice of Law in violation of Business and Professions Code section 6126(b); and
- Two felony counts of Willful Failure to Comply with the California Supreme Court’s Disbarment Order in violation of Business and Professions Code section 6126(c).
Robinson is scheduled to be arraigned at the Hall of Justice at 1:30 p.m. on April 25, 2022.
This case was investigated by District Attorney Inspector Jonathan Collum. The District Attorney’s investigation into Mr. Robinson’s conduct remains ongoing.