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Public Protection Means Rehabilitation

Pirouzian v. Superior Court (Medical Board of California) (2016) 1 Cal.App.5th 438.
This decision is a journeyman opinion on professional discipline analysis and a good primer on how professional discipline cases work in California.
In 2006, Dr. Pirouzian began working as a pediatric ophthalmologist at Children’s Specialists of San Diego. Dr. Pirouzian accepted disability insurance from his employer and purchased additional disability insurance.
In August 2006, Dr. Pirouzian went on medical disability leave for depression. Despite being cleared to return to his job part-time in October 2006, Pirouzian accepted full time employment at Kaiser and still collected his disability insurance payments.
Later, Dr. Pirouzian lied about his employment status. He repaid the $10,000 he illegally obtained, and was later convicted of insurance fraud.
In 2013 the California Medical Board instituted proceedings to discipline Pirouzian. The Board ultimately revoked his license.
HELD: Reversed and remanded.
The purpose of professional discipline in this context (including attorney discipline) is “protection of the public.” The touchstone of public protection is the rehabilitation of the errant professional.
None of Pirouzian’s misconduct affected a patient. Moreover, the Administrative Law Judge who originally heard the discipline matter repeatedly commented that Pirouzian received an “extremely favorable” result in the underlying criminal matter, and his criminal defense attorney “did a wonderful job” which betrayed a desire to punish, not rehabilitate, Pirouzian.