SACRAMENTO (CN) – A dermatologist who once treated Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor, claims in court that Attorney General Kamala Harris and the state Medical Board are demanding that he undergo medical and psychiatric examinations, but won’t tell him why.
Dr. Arnold Klein filed a writ of administrative mandamus petition in Superior Court against the Medical Board of California, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the State of California and Attorney General Harris.
He claims the respondents refused his requests to see an evidentiary fact petition that forms the basis of their order to submit to the psychiatric and physical examinations.
In his petition, Klein described himself as “a pioneer in the field of dermatology,” who founded the Elizabeth Taylor HIV Clinic at UCLA. He says he is also a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA “with an endowed chair named after him.”
Klein has fallen on hard times. In January, the Los Angeles Times reported that Klein was bankrupt, and that he blamed it on two former employees who he says embezzled millions from him. The employees denied it and countersued, claiming Klein’s career in medicine took a back seat to his extravagant lifestyle and sexual pursuits.
The Times story reported that during the manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor Conrad Murray, defense attorneys presented records seized from Klein’s office showing that Klein gave Jackson large doses of Demerol and, unbeknownst to Murray, turned Jackson into an addict.
The judge in that trial barred Murray’s defense team from calling Klein to the stand, and a jury convicted Murray of involuntary manslaughter in 2011.
The Daily Beast reported in December 2011 that the California Medical Board had issued a subpoena for Klein to appear, to determine whether his medical license should be suspended.
Klein wrote in his recent complaint that the Medical Board apparently believes that he may be unable to practice medicine safely because he has a mental or physical illness affecting competency.
“Without providing petitioner Dr. Klein any specific reason, on May 2, 2012 respondent Medical Board mailed Dr. Klein a letter, accompanied by a May 2, 2012 order compelling physical and mental examinations,” the complaint states. “The order … directed him to immediately submit to a physical examination by a physician of the Board’s choosing, which would include biological testing to determine the presence of scheduled and/or illicit drugs. It further directed him to submit to a psychiatric examination, including psychological testing, by a psychologist or psychiatrist of the Board’s choosing. The order concludes with the warning that ‘the failure of respondent to comply with this order shall constitute grounds for disciplinary action suspending or revoking his physician’s and surgeon’s certificate.'”
Klein claims his lawyers contacted the board’s investigator to request a copy of the petition, contact information for the doctors who would examine, him and a delay until June to accommodate Klein’s schedule. He claims that the investigator gave him the contact information he requested, but refused to send him a copy of the petition or change the examination date.
“It was revealed that this position was actually the idea of the deputy attorney general assigned to investigate/prosecute the case against Dr. Klein. When Ms. Wilson was asked for the basis for the position that Dr. Klein was not allowed to see any petition supporting the order, all she could provide was an administrative law judge’s decision in the case of In the Matter of the Accusation Against Edward L. Spencer, M.D. – a non-precedential decision, and one of dubious analysis by an administrative law judge who is not authorized to pass on constitutional questions,” Klein’s petition states.
Dr. Klein says he filed his objection to the board’s request on May 23. He asked the board to quash the investigation or provide him with a copy of the petition and allow him time to comply with the order. He says he received no response.
Klein did receive a response from the state attorney general’s office, however.
“On June 7, 2012, Deputy Attorney General Trina Saunders mailed counsel for Dr. Klein a letter declaring, ‘The Board will not be withdrawing this final order’ and
‘The petition supporting the order will not be forwarded to you or your client.’ No explanation for why or how Ms. Saunders knew this from the board. She was not the
Board’s attorney; she was part of the investigative/prosecutorial unit. However, she next ominously declared: ‘Should Dr. Klein fail to comply with the terms of the order, the Board will move to suspend and/or revoke Dr. Klein’s license,'” Klein says in his petition.
It adds: “Dr. Klein responded to the letter, concerned over the authority being wielded by the deputy attorney general who supposedly does not speak for the board, only the enforcement division, and should not be having unilateral communications with the adjudicatory body or members of the board. Dr. Klein again reiterated his willingness to comply with the order – provided he first have an opportunity to assure that it was in fact lawfully issued and for good reason, as provided by the enabling legislation. For that, there needs to be transparency. He needed to see the petition and any support upon which it relied. Why was he being denied an opportunity to review the petition? What are the respondents hiding? Why the secrecy? What are they afraid of? Was this issued without a petition, or no evidentiary basis at all? Is the basis some scurrilous, disreputable source, trying to cause Dr. Klein trouble? They give no reason for their refusal. Only that it’s their policy. But whose policy? The board’s? The attorney general we are dealing with? And where’s that policy written? Is it written, or personal? Yet this affects Dr. Klein’s constitutional rights. Why is Dr. Klein being put in jeopardy of summarily losing his medical license and career simply because he makes a reasonable and understandable request as to why this intrusive order was issued and all this is occurring? Is it fair that he loses his license to practice because he has a legal question and speaking up for his rights -and because the other side is being infuriatingly, and unreasonably obdurate? Dr. Klein’s legitimate redress to the respondent board was totally ignored. Now the enforcement people-its police and prosecutors-are making decisions as if they have become the judge. He is being told, in essence, he has no rights. If he asserts his rights, he will lose his license. He cannot question the police’s authority without facing the capital punishment equivalent in a Medical Board matter. There is no one to appeal to since the agency who should be judging has improperly delegated that role to its cops.”
Klein claims that deputy attorney general Saunders answered that the order was properly issued and that the Medical Board had fulfilled its statutory obligations. He says Saunders also told him that he “will not receive any further correspondence from the board regarding your self-described ‘objection and motion.’ Specifically, there will be no order or ruling on your ‘objection and motion.’ Further documents from the board will be in response to your client’s failure to comply with the board’s order.”
Klein says he tried to reason with Saunders, telling her he was not trying to be disobedient and that his request for the petition was reasonable and lawful. Other telephone calls to Saunders were not returned, Klein claims.
“Petitioner does not deny that respondent board has legitimate interests, but its right to order a licensee to submit to a physical examination and mental or psychiatric evaluation is not plenary. It is only upon a showing of good cause and in the least intrusive manner needed, given the licensee’s constitutional due process rights and his right to privacy,” Klein claims.
He claims that the respondents “violated principles of fundamental fairness, common law rights of notice, fair hearing and due process, and they have abused and unduly impaired, threatened and jeopardized petitioner’s constitutional rights, and his ability and right to practice his profession. Having done so, respondents have declared they will now proceed to suspend or revoke his license as a physician and surgeon, taking advantage of respondents’ boorish behavior to undue [sic] the professional career of Dr. Klein.”
Klein calls the Medical Board’s actions “Draconian.”
Klein asks the court to order the respondents to turn over a copy of the petition related to its order or for a court hearing on it. He also seeks the right to challenge the Medical Board’s examination order before it takes any action against his medical license.
Klein is represented by Joel Douglas, with Bonne, Bridges, Muller, O’Keefe and Nichols.