District 7 Councilman Tam Nguyen Resigns from State Bar

When Tam Nguyen began campaigning for San Jose City Council, his whole life was in flux. After years of trying, the self-described poorest attorney in town had finally separated from his wife of 20-some-odd years. To keep the peace, he left her the house they shared and moved into a bare-bones room. A fresh start on both sides, particularly for Nguyen, who beat out nonprofit director Maya Esparza for the District 7 seat that opened when Madison Nguyen termed out in 2014. A new job, a decent salary and a relentless schedule made it easier to cut ties with the past. But in breaking up, he left a few loose ends. Nguyen’s ex used to manage his law office, taking care of accounting and administration. In the chaos of their separation, they two let things lapse, including a $5,000 payout owed to former client Phil Truong. Truong notified the California Bar Association, which suspended Nguyen’s license to practice law. Since all this was happening in the thick of a divorce and his campaign, Nguyen chose not to fight it. “It’s all resolved now,” he tells Fly. “Whatever was left, I paid it off—I took immediate action.” A similar thing happened about a decade ago, he acknowledged. “My estranged wife, she managed the accounts,” he says. “But I don’t mean to put blame on anyone. I took full responsibility.” After accepting the disciplinary action, Nguyen went on to resign from the bar last fall. With his long days as an elected, he says, he’s too busy for lawyering anyway. He can apply for reinstatement in the future. For now, his heart is in his work and—as he demonstrated by serenading Fly shortly after he took office—in his name, too. Tam translates to “heart” in Vietnamese, according to his campaign theme song. “Heart it is my name/Passion is my soul/Hero’s sacrifice giving me freedom/Love is my song/I’m singing the song of my heart for you.”

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8 Comments

  1. To date, Councilmember Tam Nguyen is honorable and is serving his constituency with distinction.

    It is my hope his Honor will seek reinstatement to the California State Bar.

    My prayers for peace in his life are continually sent upwards.

    David S. Wall

  2. The same is true for both President Barrack Obama and his wife Michele Obama. Both surrendered their law licenses rather than be investigated by the Illinois Bar. Look it up on Google. Democrat politicians are snakes.

    • Not all Democrat politicians are snakes. Most of them (City of San Jose) represent the Democratic party’s symbol- a jackass.

      David S. Wall

    • Q: Did Barack and Michelle Obama “surrender” their law licenses to avoid ethics charges?

      A: No. A court official confirms that no public disciplinary proceeding has ever been brought against either of them, contrary to a false Internet rumor. By voluntarily inactivating their licenses, they avoid a requirement to take continuing education classes and pay hundreds of dollars in annual fees. Both could practice law again if they chose to do so.

      Check out the detailed answer at: http://www.factcheck.org/2012/06/the-obamas-law-licenses/

      • Googler Boy: I’ve never used Factcheck.org, but based upon the link you provided, I’d say they are as unreliable, and perhaps as liberal biased, as Snopes. Here’s why—Factcheck wrote “A court official [unidentified by Factcheck, and thus inherently untrustworthy] confirms that no public disciplinary proceeding has ever been brought against either of them, contrary to a false Internet rumor.” Court officials do not make that determination, nor do they comment upon such a question. They would refer the question to the state bar association because discipline is under the jurisdiction of the Illinois State Bar Association, not the courts. The same is true in California, and most probably all states. I checked out both Barack’s and Michelle’s status as reflected on the Illinois State Bar website. Here it is:

        LAWYER SEARCH: ATTORNEY’S REGISTRATION AND PUBLIC DISCIPLINARY RECORD
        ________________________________________
        ARDC Individual Attorney Record of Public Registration and Public Disciplinary and Disability Information as of February 17, 2016 at 9:00:00 AM:
        Full Licensed Name: Barack Hussein Obama
        Full Former name(s): None
        Date of Admission as Lawyer
        by Illinois Supreme Court: December 17, 1991
        Registered Business Address: Not available online
        Registered Business Phone: Not available online
        Illinois Registration Status: Retired – not authorized to practice law or provide pro bono services
        Malpractice Insurance:
        (Current as of date of registration;
        consult attorney for further information) No malpractice report required as attorney is retired.
        Public Record of Discipline
        and Pending Proceedings: None

        ________________________________________
        ARDC Individual Attorney Record of Public Registration and Public Disciplinary and Disability Information as of February 17, 2016 at 9:00:00 AM:
        Full Licensed Name: Michelle Obama
        Full Former name(s): Michelle Lavaughn Robinson
        Date of Admission as Lawyer
        by Illinois Supreme Court: May 12, 1989
        Registered Business Address: Not available online
        Registered Business Phone: Not available online
        Illinois Registration Status: Voluntarily inactive and not authorized to practice law
        Malpractice Insurance:
        (Current as of date of registration;
        consult attorney for further information) No malpractice report required as attorney is on inactive status.
        Public Record of Discipline
        and Pending Proceedings: None

        This presents some interesting facts: (1) Barack’s record, which he would have submitted in an application to become a member of the Illinois Bar, states he has no former names; yet we all know that for years he went by Barry. Thus, he lied to the Illinois State Bar. (2) Barack states he is retired, whereas Michelle states she is voluntarily inactive. Those are two very different statuses. (3) The last box is “Public Record of Discipline AND Pending Proceedings: None” (my emphasis). Use of the word “and” would mean that both situations would have to be present for a “None” report by the bar association to be accurate. The proper word would be “or”, not “and”. So, are we to conclude that the Illinois State Bar Association is populated by lawyers ignorant of proper English usage (why would anyone hire such a lawyer?), or should we conclude that the bar association is deliberately trying to protect bad attorneys by making that designation one that requires both a public record of discipline AND pending proceedings before the public can learn of the problem?
        Personally, although I believe Barack Obama to be the worst US President EVER, I doubt that he “retired” from the Illinois State Bar under a cloud. As for Michelle’s reason for going “voluntarily inactive”, I’m not so sure. Her propensity to live like a queen for the last 7 years on other people’s money makes her highly suspect to me.

        • Regarding (3) — Just further below the lawyer search result, the field “Public Record of Discipline and Pending Proceedings” is further defined: “The disciplinary results displayed above include information relating to any and all public discipline, court-ordered disability inactive status, reinstatement and restoration dispositions, and pending public proceedings.” The use of the conjunction AND here is proper. That text is a summary of all the items that could possibly be listed in that field.

          So, in other words, it appears there have been no public disciplinary proceedings brought against either.

          As for (1), could it be that nicknames like “Barry” are not what that field is intended for? I think the implication is that the second field is for other names the person was *licensed* under, as might frequently be the case for lawyers who change their legal name after marriage. Just like Mitch McConnell is listed in the Kentucky Bar Assoc as “Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr.” (I also see that McConnell has the status with the state bar of “CLE Non-Practice Exemption,” which means he is still a bar member but “… has voluntarily agreed not to practice law in Kentucky until the exemption is removed by the Continuing Legal Education Commission upon certification of completion of appropriate continuing legal education credit hours.” Sounds familiar.

          BTW — The URL for Illinois search is https://www.iardc.org/lawyersearch.asp. And the Kentucky one is http://www.kybar.org/?page=OBC. I’m always interested in public records being made more accessible to the public via the web.