Sunday, May 6, 2007
As a follow on to my recent post regarding access to disciplinary case information, I have been taking a look at hearing board reports on the web page of the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission. One case involves charges against a lawyer who represented a client who had spent a weekend in Las Vegas with Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley. She claimed that she had been sexually assaulted. The lawyer wrote Flatley a letter claiming that he had gathered evidence to support the claim (in fact he had not) and demanding $30 million in damages. Rebuffed, the lawyer filed the suit. Flatley filed suit in Los Angeles against the lawyer and client alleging fraud and extortion. The suit against Flatley was voluntarily dismissed.
The bar prosecuted the lawyer for violations of a number of ethical rules including threatening to present criminal charges to obtain an advantage in a civil matter, asserting a position merely to harass or maliciously injure another and conduct involving dishonesty/fraud. The lawyer failed to participate in the bar proceedings. The hearing board majority recommended a one-year suspension that will continue until further court order (the further order requirement related to the lawyer's failure to participate). A dissent felt that the conduct was sufficiently egregious to warrant disbarment. (Mike Frisch)