Friday, June 15, 2007
Here's a test of your attitude towards lawyer sanction. How would you evaluate the following charges in a complaint recently filed by the Illinois ARDC? In the wake of his termination as an associate of a law firm in Elgin, Illinois, the attorney is alleged to have made a series of unauthorized purchases on the firm credit card. Among the purchases - several pieces of artwork ("Ete Hiver Chamonix Mont-Blanc" and others), a lady of justice statue, and a "medium black hipster coat." Total: roughly $1200, mostly at Target. The attorney was charged criminally but diverted to a Second Chance Program which required restitution. The charges are deferred pending completion of the program.
Count two involves an argument with the partner who fired him and the handling of his last paycheck. The attorney left a text mesage for the partner as follows: "We're now settled. Otherwise, I'll tie you up in Court on fraud & malpractice charges & report you to the ARDC. Your S-Corp. is dissolved...dumbass!" The charge: threatening to present professional disciplinary actions to obtain an advantage in a civil matter in violation of Illinois Rule 1.2(e). Note that there is no such rule in the ABA Model Rules.
How would you decide this one? What factors would influence your decision as to misconduct and sanction? (Mike Frisch)