State

Former Merced DA facing discipline

MERCED — Former Merced County District Attorney Gordon Spencer will be barred from practicing law in California for 30 days starting Sept. 14 because of an ethical breach, according to state records.

Spencer officially was disciplined by the State Bar on Jan. 13 for improper conduct while in office. The California Supreme Court later issued a disciplinary order, which put his punishment — suspension — into effect.

Spencer stepped down from office in 2007 after revelations that he had impersonated a district attorney's investigator, served alcohol to a minor and inappropriately used a county vehicle.

Originally scheduled for a 30-day suspension starting Aug. 13, Spencer filed a request with the state Supreme Court to postpone his suspension for a month. That request was granted Aug. 13, according to the State Bar Association.

Spencer could not be reached for comment.

He was disciplined by the State Bar specifically for actions that took place in 2005, when he still was the district attorney. He called a cabinetmaker with whom his son, Nathan Spencer, was in a dispute. Spencer impersonated district attorney's investigator Albert Flores in the call, according to bar filings.

In an interview in February, Spencer said that despite his suspension, the State Bar and the attorney general's office were unable to prove he did anything other than impersonate someone.

"I'm gratified professional investigators from both the State Bar and attorney general checked out every allegation, and this is all the state bar is left with," he said.

In a separate settlement that ended an attorney general's office criminal investigation, Spencer paid more than $26,000 to the county for inappropriate use of a county vehicle.

Soon after the State Bar's disciplinary ruling in January, the association's supervising trial counsel, Donald Steedman, said the discipline was appropriate. "We thought the misconduct was serious, and we agreed to a discipline that reflected the seriousness of that conduct," he said.

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