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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How Many Disbarred Lawyers Does It Take To Solve the Zodiac Murders?

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 5:00 PM

So far, two have given it a shot -- but if credulous local media outlets have anything to say about it, then we should probably enlist more.

The past several months have seen two disbarred lawyers presenting dubious Zodiac revelations via the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle, and the stories have provided just the kind of undeserved attention that encourages Zodiac obsessives and publicity weasels to keep it up.

First, the Examiner published a cover story entitled, "Zodiac Killer To Be Named," which essentially called a press conference in front of the Chronicle building for a disbarred lawyer, Don Kevin McLean, and Southern California real estate agent, Deborah Perez. They were claiming that Perez was the daughter of the Zodiac -- who, as a seven year old, had accompanied him on killing expeditions -- and that she still possessed a pair of glasses that belonged to one of the victims.

This info, mostly from the lips of McLean, was reported by local press with almost uniformly straight faces. It took about two minutes to find out that according to the State Bar of California, on April 3, McLean was disbarred for 10 counts of professional misconduct, including moral turpitude, failing to maintain client funds in a trust account, failing to promptly release a client file, failing to perform legal services competently, failing to keep a client informed of significant developments, failure to cooperate in a disciplinary investigation, and paying or offering to pay personal or business expenses for a client.

Sounds like a trustworthy sort, no?

Then, yesterday, yet another disbarred lawyer, 82-year-old Robert Tarbox of Las Vegas, was given ink in the Chronicle to describe how the Zodiac Killer, apparently an itinerant seaman, went to Tarbox to find out more about his legal situation. This time, the Chronicle at least its homework, and checked with State Bar about Tarbox's status: "[Tarbox] left San Francisco in 1975," the Chron reported near the end of the story, "when records show the State Bar suspended his law license for five years because he had failed to pay clients about $4,900 won in a lawsuit."

Calls to the SFPD to find whether the department will be using time and city resources to investigate Tarbox's claims -- as it did for McLean and Perez -- went unreturned.

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Ashley Harrell


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