|Kelly Soo Park Gets A New Lawyer. Debate Continues Over The Frontline Medical 100K And When The Feds Will Get To Confiscate It.|
By Lonce LaMon - July 22, 2011
Kelly Soo Park , accused of the 2008 Santa Monica, California murder of Juliana Redding, and believed to be a key right hand woman to Dr. Munir Uwaydah, principal of Frontline Medical, in his California workers’ compensation claims fraud ring, appeared in court at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Downtown L.A. in Department 109 yesterday morning. She appeared finally with her new attorney.
He is Stephen Bernard of the law firm of Bernard & Bernard from 10990 Wilshire Boulevard in West Los Angeles. He appeared in a dark suit with his grey and white hair and balding head, a handsome man of a certain age of medium height and build.
Judge Kathleen Kennedy opened up the proceedings with a good morning greeting and immediately called Kelly Soo Park forward and asked her if she had retained new counsel. Kelly Soo deferred to Stephen Bernard who introduced himself and wasted no time to express that he wanted to revisit soon certain motions, such as the one demanding the return of Kelly Soo’s hard drive. He clarified that he doesn’t necessarily want the actual physical hard drive but wants the information off of it.
The next court date was set for September 14th.
Stephen Bernard: I have to review volumes of paperwork.
Judge Kathleen Kennedy: Do you waive time until September 14th?
Kelly Soo Park: Yes
Judge Kathleen Kennedy: Ms. Rackauckas, your firm is relieved.
Kay Rackauckas (foreground) and Jennifer Keller leave the Court House up the front stairs after resigning as Kelly Soo Park's defense counsels last May 20th 2011.
The discussion that followed was lively as Anthony Colannino, a deputy district attorney now recently acting and speaking in court on this case, was taken to task by the judge for filing a motion on June 30th with no proof of service. He explained that he served it upon Kay Rackauckas and Jennifer Keller, Kelly Soo Park’s former defense attorneys, just outside of the doorway to the court room on June 30th just before the start of the last proceedings, however, Judge Kennedy protested.
Judge Kathleen Kennedy: When I see a document and there’s no proof of service—it looks like an ex-parte. It may not be a big deal to you, but it’s a big deal to me. Let’s not have it happen again.
Benjamin Gluck, Attorney At Law from the Bird Firm in Century City (Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, and Lincenberg) was there representing Frontline Medical and their 100 grand that’s still sitting in Kay Rackauckas’ and Jennifer Keller’s trust account. Suddenly he was washed ashore; I had never seen him appear before.
Benjamin Gluck complained that his firm had not been served with the motion filed on June 30th by The People, specifically by D.A. Colannino. But then Colannino asked the Court to have a private word with Gluck, so the two of them spoke in whispers. Gluck then apologized for not knowing that his colleague had been served and he withdrew his statement. He apologized twice for his mistake before the entire proceedings were over.
The debate and the tug-of-war over the $100,000 from Frontline Medical sent to Kelly Soo’s now former defense attorneys bounced around like a rubber ball. D.A. Anthony Colannino expressed that the Secret Service would have gone in to raid those funds but the state interjected it. The Judge expressed that they are all in a state of “What are we supposed to do?” and that she does not feel her court has the jurisdiction.
Judge Kathleen Kennedy: I don’t know that I have authority over those funds.
Anthony Colannino talked about the dual action and about giving the money back to the federal government. The Judge clarified that she had not seized the assets. Stephen Bernard stated there was no seizure and all agreed that there is no forfeiture proceeding.
Kay Rackauckas: We were just asking for assistance.
She was asking for assistance from the Court because the one hundred thousand dollars from Frontline Medical is still sitting in her client trust account. Rackauckas stated urbanely in court two months ago: “We don’t want the money.”
Kay Rackauckas, now Kelly Soo Park's former defense attorney, holding the alligator bag with the manila envelope of discovery in it, leaves the court house with Kelly Soo on February 8th 2011.
Judge Kathleen Kennedy: Because you don’t know what to do, and I don’t know what to do.
Anthony Colannino: The federal government is seeking forfeiture.
Judge Kathleen Kennedy: I’m going to bow out. I just don’t think that I’m the court that’s going to decide that.
Then Kay Rackauckas and Stephen Bernard whispered to one another, and Eric Harmon and Tony Colannino whispered between themselves.
Anthony Colannino: We’ve been trying to avoid a turf war.
Judge Kathleen Kennedy: That kind of goes into the category of “It’s not my problem.” The federal government could have filed some action. The federal government has an interest in the money. I am now making it clear this court has no jurisdiction.
Eric Harmon, the other deputy D.A. who appeared together with Anthony Colannino, then expressed that it could readily be ill gotten money and if it goes back to Frontline it will dissipate. It will go off-shore.
Judge Kathleen Kennedy: Put your track shoes on and run over to the court you feel has jurisdiction and file something.
Court was adjourned and the lawyers, Kelly Soo Park, and her clan lingered around the court room. There was a stack of what looked like 3 large file boxes pressed against the back wall with a small moving dolly next to it. A herculean man who looks like a middle-linebacker and is always with Kelly Soo’s group was standing next to the file boxes and I thought he was absolutely the perfect individual to transport those boxes to Stephen Bernard’s car.
Kelly Soo Park (center right) walks arm in arm with her loyal friend Deborah Vancleave as they both cross North Broadway in Downtown LA last May as they leave the Court House. The large man in the right foreground is always in the court room and should be her body guard. I've dubbed him "the middle-linebacker".
Upon my return to my office, I decided to look up Stephen Bernard. I thought he was Steven Bernard initially so I searched him that way on the California Bar Association web site choosing the option to pull up all similar sounding names. But when I saw the location of his firm plus the time he has been in practice relative to his looks, I decided the record of Stephen Bernard was the most likely candidate.
So, I called his number and asked for him. He picked up his phone and verified to me that he is indeed Kelly Soo Park’s new defense attorney and is “glad to be” her new counsel.
“There’s a lot in this case that hasn’t been brought out,” Bernard told me. “I thought there was good energy in the court room today.”
He also told me he thinks the D.A.’s office believes it’s got a slam dunk case, but in his own words he expressed that he’s got something to bring to the table.
He’s a friendly, rather chipper and affable man. In his California Bar record it reads that he was suspended from the practice of law in 1999 for misusing the funds in some clients’ trust accounts. He was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on probation for three years with an actual six-month suspension “Bernard misappropriated client funds and failed to maintain client funds in trust in a personal injury case,” it reads in his record. “He allowed the balance of his trust account to fall below the required amount because he paid personal expenses from the account.”
Then the record goes on to explain that he was going through a bitter divorce and a child custody battle at the time of his misconduct, and that he was using illegal drugs.
This information about Stephen Bernard reminds me of a mini-version of Marvin Mitchelson. But to far less of an extreme from Mitchelson’s. In fact, he even looks a little like Mitchelson.
As many readers will recall, Marvin Mitchelson was a very famous (and also infamous) Beverly Hills divorce lawyer from the 1960s up until his death in 2004, who represented high profile celebrities like Zsa Zsa Gabor, Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Joan Collins, Bianca Jagger and also represented Michelle Triola Marvin, the live-in lover of Lee Marvin who got jilted when Marvin decided he wanted her to move out so he could take up with somebody else. It was Mitchelson who brought the term “palimony” into the English lexicon and used to call shaking up “a marriage with no rings attached”.
Marvin Mitchelson won $104,000 for Michelle Triola Marvin in her famous "palimony" lawsuit against Lee Marvin in 1978. But Michelle never got her money. The award was overturned on appeal.
Mitchelson had a drug and alcohol problem and was often seen in nightclubs in West Hollywood in the 1980s. There was one particular club I saw him in often during those years, and he would always talk to me. I picked up from his conversation that he was an emotional man who had a passion for rescuing maligned women. He valiantly defended women who had been manipulated, abused, and ill-used by powerful men. He admitted to me that he had a tempestuous relationship with his wife and had started divorce proceedings against her several times but always chickened out when it came to following through.
An undated photograph of Marvin Mitchelson. But this is exactly how he looked during the 1980s.
Stephen Bernard on a less than very short acquaintance strikes me as this type. He’s wired to go to bat for women against unscrupulous but powerful men. He got all messed up over his wife and their conflicts and went off the deep end. Just like Marvin Mitchelson.
Mitchelson was also disciplined by the California Bar for failure to properly oversee a client trust account and for failure to return unearned fees in numerous client matters. Michelson also wound up in Lompoc prison in the late 1990s for income tax evasion and other messes into which he got himself embroiled.
He got his law license back in the year 2000 just in time to represent Phil Spector for a short while.
Munir Uwaydah, M.D. circa 2006
So, will Stephen Bernard play the manipulated, used, abused, controlled, and brainwashed woman card? He will if he’s smart. That Munir Uwaydah, M.D. could manipulate and completely control Kelly Soo Park and drive her to involvement in heinous acts is not so hard to believe. Uwaydah’s a Svengali. A real Jim Jones. Think back to the wealthy, highly educated, and successful professionals from the California Bay Area who went to Jonestown in British Guiana in the 1970s and wound up serving cyanide laced kool-aid to their young children and you’ll catch my drift.
Looks to me like Kelly Soo got herself the right lawyer. I think the blemish on Stephen Bernard’s State Bar record ironically qualifies him.