When Jon Alexander was elected Del Norte County district attorney in 2010, it seemed the culmination of a lawyerly rags to riches story.
Happier times: Alexander celebrates his 2010 primary victory. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
He had overcome a methamphetamine addiction and State Bar discipline that included suspensions. And he had defeated the incumbent DA who fired Alexander from his job as a deputy prosecutor.
After the election, he was featured on the cover of California Lawyer magazine. In Del Norte, he was seemingly everywhere, from parades to social events. He decried the scourge of meth even as he celebrated the community’s attributes in speeches and Coastal Voices articles in the Triplicate.
Now, it’s apparently back to rags. And with a State Bar judge recommending his disbarment to the Supreme Court, another comeback may be difficult to pull off.
Alexander has been ordered not to practice law three times in the past, was suspended in 2003 and put on probation in 2004. In addition, he was enrolled inactive for 30 days in 2006, after which he petitioned the court for active status.
Among the older misdeeds cited by the Bar: practicing law while not entitled, failing to return unearned fees, failing to cooperate with the Bar’s investigation, failing to maintain a current address with the Bar and committing an act of moral turpitude.
But Alexander kept coming back, from the suspensions and from an electoral defeat when he first ran for DA against incumbent Mike Riese in 2006. Alexander served as a defense attorney and public defender for several years before running again for DA in 2010.
Even after he was the top vote-getter among four candidates in the June primary that year, there was a fresh reminder of his past Bar difficulties. In September 2010, just a few weeks before his general election run-off against Robert Drossel, Alexander was recommended for three years’ probation after completing the Bar’s Alternative Discipline Program.
“I’ve done that and more in this community,” Alexander said. “Every day I wake up and realize how blessed I am to be in a town and county that gave me a second chance.”
The DA’s race was high-profile, with Alexander spending more than $90,000 on his campaign — most of it coming out of his own pocket. It was by far the most ever spent on an election in Del Norte.
The final vote tally, released a week after Election Day, had Alexander winning over Drossel by 194 votes out of 8,344 ballots cast.
Most of the charges for which he was tried earlier this year stem from incidents that occurred after the election. But the accumulated weight of his baggage may have led to the disbarment recommendation more than any one allegation. Judge Lucy Armendariz cited Alexander’s past indiscretions in the preamble to her 27-page ruling issued Friday.