Suspending Honolulu Attorney Earle A. Partington
News Release from ODC, Dec 14, 2020
On Friday, December 11, 2020, Hawaiʻi Supreme Court entered an Order of Reciprocal Suspension, suspending Honolulu attorney Earle A. Partington from the practice of law, for a period of six-months, effective January 10, 2021.
In its decision to suspend Partington, the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court found that on April 29, 2020, the Supreme Court of California entered an order disbarring Partington for willfully disobeying a valid order of that court. The willful disobedience of a valid order of a court in violation that court’s rules, if committed in Hawaiʻi, would violate Hawaiʻi’s professional rules as well. However, after review of the entire record, the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court found that Partington’s conduct in California warrants substantially different discipline in this state.
Specifically, at the time that Partington made the decision not to timely file the document required by California, he had not been practicing law in California since 2014, and he did not represent any clients in California in pending matters. The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court then noted that “[a]lbeit misguidedly, Partington made the decision not to timely file the required [document] for strategic reasons related to challenging the original  military discipline imposed upon him, which gave rise to the  California reciprocal disciplinary charges” that imposed upon Partington the duty to file documents in California. In balancing the harm caused by the California disobedience with local mitigating factors, the Hawaiʻi court noted that “Partington has ably served as a practitioner in this [Hawaiʻi], for many years, and has contributed positively in this jurisdiction, without prior disciplines, except as related to the underlying military disciplinary incident.” Then the Hawaiʻi court concluded that “the willful disobedience of a valid order of a court, which would violate [Hawaiʻi’s rules], is a serious matter meriting appropriate discipline.” The court then ordered Partington suspended from the practice of law in Hawaiʻi “for a period of six months, effective 30 days after the entry date of this order” and that “[t]his six-month suspension appropriately recognizes the serious nature of Respondent Partington’s misconduct.”
Upon entry of the December 11, 2020 suspension order, Partington shall not accept any new retainer or engage as attorney for another in any new case or legal matter of any nature. However, between December 11, 2020 and January 10, 2021 he may wind up and complete, on behalf of any client, all matters that were pending on December 11, 2020. During that time, he is required to promptly notify all of his clients, and any attorneys for any adverse party in any pending litigation, of his suspension and consequent inability to act as an attorney. By January 10, 2021, Partington shall surrender to all clients all papers and property to which the clients are entitled and any advance payments of fees that have not been earned.
Mr. Partington, age 78, was admitted to the Hawaiʻi bar in 1975, and is a graduate of Hastings College of Law, UC San Francisco. If there are any questions, please contact me at (808) 469-4026.
Case information: ODC v. Earle A. Partington, SCAD-20-0000403
PDF: Hawai’i Supreme Court Order of Suspension of Earle A. Partington (December 11, 2020)
Calif: Search Case #18-N-12334
ILind: Attorney faces threat of disbarment while trying to clear his record
ILind: Partington avoids disbarment, but loses bid for personal vindication
2019: Who Is Earle Partington And What’s He Doing In The Kealoha Case?