A Second Special Master Falls in Ralston’s Case

State & National

It appears Barnes’ “shot across the bow” struck hard as the second Special Master, Judge Robert Castellani, in the Ralston Case has also recused himself.

The State Bar attorney’s called for the recusal of the first Special Master, Mark Dehlar. Though some believe this was due to a expectation that Dehlar was planning on denying access to certain documents regarding Ralston’s Trust Account, the official statement states that the complaint revolved around Dehlar’s status as head of the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) whose budget is set by the Legislature. The complaint contends that since Ralston is the Speaker of the House, it would give the ‘appearance of impropriety.’

Barnes’ took that same statements the Bar applied to Dehlar to transfer what amounts to ‘return fire’ back at the new Special Master, Judge Castellani. The retired Judge stepped down less than a week after his appointment due to these allegations that he would also have a conflict due to the same Legislature controlling his pay and pension as a Senior Judge.

This begs the question as to who is left qualified to be a Special Master on such a case that isn’t involved, financially or otherwise, with the House Legislature?

Ralston has also challenged the State Bar’s response to his Petition for Voluntary Discipline (PVD) in addition to the new appointment of Superior Court Judge Robert J Castellani as Special Master over his case.

In his response to the State Bar’s opposition of his PVD, Barnes states.

“the State Bar refused to agree to any of the facts set forth in the PVD.”

Barnes argues that the State Bar’s Response was devoid of evidence and factual support of its opposition and should, therefore, be completely ignored. Ralston suggests his PVD be accepted since

“The majority of the facts in the PVD are easily confirmed as facts.”

One of his main arguments for the PVD in this document offers that no client has complained about the trust account issue and Chernak himself has never responded to dispute or contradict any of the information, so the grievance should have no merit.

Ralston has further accused the State Bar of prosecuting this case with an acceptance of lies made by Chernak. stating that in the Interrogatories and Mr. Chernak’s response,

“it is clear that his answers were not truthful.”

Yet, with no current Special Master on the case, there stands no person to make a decision on these filings yet. Who is the next Special Master? How long shall this case sit stagnant with no one to oversee these proceedings?

The more prominent question that sits on everyone’s mind at this point, though, is, “When a new Special Master is appointed, how long will this one last?”

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