SAN FRANCISCO — Attorney Jon Alexander overcame methamphetamine addiction, a stint in jail and a suspended law license to win election as Del Norte County's district attorney.

But soon after assuming office in January 2011 and receiving a slew of positive publicity, including a cover story in The California Lawyer magazine, new troubles for the recovering addict cropped up. He is now fighting for his professional life.

On Monday, the California agency responsible for licensing lawyers convened a two-week trial in San Francisco before a State Bar judge, who will consider seven allegations of corruption against Alexander. State Bar officials believe it's the first time disciplinary charges have been filed against an elected district attorney while in office.

Alexander faces disbarment. Alexander's attorneys declined to make an opening statement after state bar prosecutor Donald Steedman's brief opening remarks laid out the seven State Bar charges.

They stem from three separate incidents. Alexander is charged with making a $14,000 loan to a probation officer preparing probation reports for two of his clients when he was a public defender, receiving a $6,000 loan from a defense attorney then dismissing charges against the attorney's client, and improperly discussing a case with a drug defendant without her lawyer present.

Alexander, who didn't return messages last week, issued a defiant press release after the charges were announced on May 15 alleging that he is a target of small-town politics orchestrated by "liars, criminals and fired former D.A. Office employees."

His attorney Kurt Melchior on Thursday called the charges "baseless" and politically motivated to unseat Alexander, who unexpectedly won with his "death to meth campaign."

Alexander, 65, also filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday, accusing the State Bar of intentional emotional distress and the filing of bogus charges. He's seeking a halt to the trial and the Bar's proceedings against him, but a judge scheduled a hearing for Oct. 24, ensuring the trial began Monday as scheduled.

Alexander was first licensed to practice law in 1987 after graduating from Western State University in Fullerton, Calif. He received his undergraduate degree from Transylvania University in Kentucky.

Del Norte County is among California's smallest counties, nestled along the Pacific and the last stop before crossing into Oregon. It's home to Redwood National Park, the harbor town of Crescent City and 29,000 residents, including 3,000 inmates of California's most-secure maximum security prison, Pelican Bay State Prison. The area has long been economically depressed and isolated, routinely posting double digit unemployment rates. It's the also the place where Alexander found refuge after losing his lucrative Orange County criminal defense practice and cleaning up after a stint in jail and rehab.

His story of recovery and second chances appealed to voters in the small, rural area known for its tall trees, salmon fishing and methamphetamine problems.

He narrowly won a runoff election by 93 votes after spending $100,000 to his opponents' $20,000 for a job that pays $84,000 annually. Alexander says his political foes, angry with his unexpected victory, are at the root of his current problems.

"The State Bar is siding with his political opponents," said Melchior, Alexander's attorney.

Alexander also argues that his previous run-ins with the State Bar play a significant role in his current case. He was twice before suspended from practicing law after being found to have wrongly kept clients' fees and failing to pay State Bar fees.

As proof, his defense brief quotes an internal State Bar email written by State Bar prosecutor Cydney Batchelor to another lawyer in the office.

"I do not believe for a second that Alexander should be DA (because) I think his mental abilities continue to be adversely affected by his long time meth use, even though he appears to be sober," Batchelor is quoted as saying.

Batchelor says in a reply that she is not involved in Alexander's current case, though she's handled previous cases.

State Bar spokeswoman Laura Ernde declined to comment.

The State Bar document charging Alexander accuses him of corruption for dismissing a case handled by a defense attorney who had loaned the prosecutor $6,000. Alexander used the money to help pay for hair transplants.

In another instance, Alexander is charged with loaning a county probation officer $14,000 while he served the county as a public defender. The State Bar alleges that loan is another example of corruption because the loan has not been paid back and the probation officer wrote probation reports for a judge considering the cases of two of Alexander's clients.

Alexander argues that the probation officer is a close friend and was in charge of the county's juvenile hall at the time of the loan, making it unlikely she would handle any of the cases of his adult clients. He said the two reports prepared for his clients that she did end up writing "did not favor the defendants in any manner."

Alexander said the loan he received for the hair transplants did not play any part in his dismissal of the charges pending against the client of the lender. Alexander said the case was left over from the previous district attorney's administration and that a judge had recommended dismissal of the case before the loan was made.

Finally, the State Bar says Alexander should be disciplined for discussing a pending drug case with the defendant without her lawyer present.

Alexander argues that the defendant "barged" into his office late on a Friday, demanding to talk about her case. Alexander said the defendant's lawyer had previously authorized him to speak to her alone and that the conversation lasted "two or three minutes" and focused on the defendant's participation in a drug diversion program in place of a criminal prosecution.

Alexander says he later learned that the defendant was wearing a "wire" when the conversation occurred and urged the State Bar to obtain the recording to support his version of events. She refused to turn over a copy to Alexander.