16:00, September 11 443 0 law.com

2017-09-11 16:00:05
Disbarment for Lawyer Involved in Drug-Planting Plot

Kent and Jill Easter.


A former Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati associate and ex-partner at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth has been disbarred in California after he was caught scheming with his now ex-wife to plant drugs in the car of a mother who volunteered at their son’s elementary school.

The attorney discipline action took effect on July 23 and comes after the lawyer, Kent Easter, was convicted and sent to prison in connection with the drug-planting plot. A jury found him guilty in September 2014 on a felony charge of false imprisonment, and he was initially sentenced to 180 days in prison, although he was reportedly released after serving 87 days.

Easter did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent to an email address listed on his California State Bar profile.

Before his conviction, his former wife Jill Easter—who has reportedly changed her name and now goes by Ava Everheart—entered a guilty plea to the same charge and served 60 days in prison; she was disbarred in 2014, according to the state bar.

Once a Wilson Sonsini associate, Kent Easter later became a partner at Stradling. He has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and went to law school at the University of California, Los Angeles. He now describes himself as a consultant advising early-stage technology companies, according to his profile on LinkedIn. His ex-wife attended the University of California, Berkeley, for her law degree and also served as an associate at Wilson Sonsini, where the couple likely met, according to press reports about their cases, which have been widely covered.

The Easters’ saga began with a 2010 run-in with Kelli Peters, a parent who volunteered at the Irvine, California, elementary school that the Easters’ son attended, according to the order disbarring Kent Easter. At the time, Peters was responsible for shepherding kids from their after-school activities to the area where they were picked up. One day in February 2010, Jill Easter arrived at the school to find that her then 6-year-old son wasn’t at the pick-up spot and that he had been briefly locked out of the school following an after-school tennis program.

In the wake of that incident, the Easters embarked on a campaign to have Peters blocked from remaining as a volunteer—demanding that the school remove her, as well as filing a police report and a civil suit, according to the disbarment order. Ultimately, though, Peters remained on board in her volunteer role.

About a year later, in February 2011, Kent Easter called the Irvine police using an Indian accent and pretended to be a concerned parent who claimed he had seen Peters driving erratically near the school with drugs in her car, according to the disbarment order. The police searched Peters’ car and found marijuana, a pipe, Vicodin and Percocet. But during questioning, Peters denied that the drugs were hers and submitted to a DNA test.

Eventually, the police began to suspect Peters was framed. They found the Easters’ DNA on the drugs and paraphernalia and their investigation also revealed that Kent Easter was the caller who had used the Indian accent. Those findings set off the criminal cases and the eventual conviction of Kent Easter and guilty plea by Jill Easter.

Peters also lodged a civil complaint against the Easters, which in February 2016 resulted in a $5.7 million verdict.

The California State Bar featured Kent Easter’s case in the attorney discipline section of its September edition of the online California Bar Journal. A summary of the scenario that led to Easter’s disbarment, which took effect on July 23, cites it as an example of how a lawyer can land in hot water even if the misconduct isn’t related to legal work.

“His disbarment—and, earlier, that of his attorney wife for the same offense—demonstrate that a felony conviction, the fact and circumstances of which involve moral turpitude, can lead to an attorney’s ouster from the profession even where unrelated to the practice of law,” the state bar journal wrote.