Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Public Charges

One of the things I like best about bar regulation in Illinois is that after disciplinary charges are filed and served, the full text of the charge is posted on the ARDC web site. This access to public charges is pretty rare and would be treated in some states as a gross violation of the lawyer's reputational rights. Self regulation would be a lot more credible, or at least more transparent, if all information relating to ethics charges was as easily found as in the Land of Lincoln.

Here is an example of a recent charging document.  Two lawyers are charged with criminal conduct toward a woman that they met in a club. The lawyers had been on a day-long drinking binge. They left the club at closing time and the woman was outside. They asked for a ride. When she asked "How do I know you're not some kind of weirdos, or something?", one replied "Well, we are lawyers." The conduct alleged thereafter (pled in great detail) recounts a two on one unconsented sexual assault. One lawyer was convicted of second degree reckless endangerment; the other of that same offense and two counts of sexual gratification in public. The convictions were based on conduct that took place in  Wisconsin. The Bar Administator charges are based on the convictions as well as the underlying conduct.

After posting the recently-filed disciplinary charges, I remembered that the underlying criminal case was  widely reported at the time and that there was criticism of the criminal disposition as unduly lenient. (Mike Frisch)

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