As Arambula Trial Continues, What About His Medical License?
Jury selection starts Tuesday (April 30) in the child abuse trial of Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno).
The jury will decide his fate of guilt or innocence. Politics will decide his future as an assemblyman.
His future as a doctor could be decided by the Medical Board of California.
A conviction would not automatically affect Arambula’s status as a physician. But, he could face a range of discipline from a letter of reprimand to the loss of his license.
Medical Board Review Process
Arambula is licensed through 2020, according to his medical board profile.
If the board took action on Arambula, it would need to prove his conviction would impede his ability to practice medicine.
“A crime like this most likely would be considered by the medical board to have a relation to the qualifications of being a doctor because it involves, in theory, the abuse of a child.” — Attorney Jeff Kravitz
Arrests and convictions fall under the latter category.
“When a physician is convicted of a crime, the Board has to obtain court documents and any other relevant documents pertaining to the case in order to prove that the conviction is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, and duties of a physician,” board spokesman Carlos Villatoro said.
Whether a child abuse conviction is “substantially related” to a doctor’s qualifications can be an open-ended question. However, the leader of the local medical advocacy group says that the case should be scrutinized.
“If there is something a doctor is doing incorrectly, they are not above the law. It should be reviewed by the medical board,” said Nicole Butler, executive director of the Fresno Madera Medical Society.
License Defense Attorney Says Discipline Possible
Jeff Kravitz is a Sacramento-based attorney who specializes in defending medical licenses. He is not involved in the Arambula case. He said Arambula’s case could impact him professionally.
“A crime like this most likely would be considered by the medical board to have a relation to the qualifications of being a doctor because it involves, in theory, the abuse of a child,” Kravtiz said.
Kravitz said the matter could play out in a number of ways.
“It’s quite possible there will be no discipline of his license. It is possible the discipline will be low. It is possible his license could be put on probation,” Kravitz said. He also says a revocation is an option.
He notes that a doctor is required to report convictions to the medical board.
Lengthy Medical Board Process
Even if the board pursues a complaint, the investigation can take time.
Villatoro said that if the medical board believes it has a case, it will be turned over to the Attorney General’s office for review.
“As with any process, it takes time to investigate cases, even those where the individual has been convicted of a crime,” Villatoro said. “Each case is different, but they all require the board to prove its case by clear and convincing evidence. Each case must be thoroughly investigated to meet this high standard of proof.”
“The medical board is sometimes slow. If this comes to a verdict, it could take years through the medical board system,” she said.