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The other day I got the following question from reader Jan Thomas:

What is the status of the State Bar investigation of Mike Aguirre?

Good question, I thought. You’ll remember that San Diego’s political world went nuts for a few days chewing over this news last year that the State Bar had interviewed at least five people locally as part of a probe into City Attorney Mike Aguirre.

But that was nearly one year ago. So what’s the deal?

I called the State Bar and talked to Diane Curtis, its spokeswoman. She said Bar investigations are confidential and only become public record if it files what’s called a “Notice of Disciplinary Charges” against an attorney.

She added this via e-mail too:

By statute, State Bar investigations of attorney misconduct are confidential. … The Chief Trial Counsel has the authority to waive confidentiality only when the need for public protection outweighs the necessity for preserving confidentiality of an investigation. (Rule 2302(d)(1) of the Rules of Procedure of the State Bar).

That means charges haven’t been filed. But, it doesn’t tell us whether there actually still is an ongoing investigation or whether it was shut down and didn’t find violations. And, the Bar can only let the public know if it has closed an investigation without charges through a special waiver. (The State Bar didn’t announce its investigation into Aguirre originally, the Union-Tribune put together its report based on five people who said they’d been interviewed.)

I also talked to Aguirre, people in his office and one of his leading critics, John Kaheny. The consensus: No one has heard anything from the Bar in months.

“I’ve never heard one way or another,” Aguirre said. “No idea.”

For what it’s worth: My former colleague Evan McLaughlin last year put together this interesting story showing that the State Bar often probes elected attorneys but rarely charges them.

Send me an e-mail at andrew.donohue@voiceofsandiego.org if you know anything about it or have any local campaign questions as Election Day nears.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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