Thursday, January 24, 2008
An Illinois hearing board has recommended a suspension of two years and until further court order in a case involving an Assistant State's Attorney who had "purchased, possessed, and used cocaine and cannabis on multiple occasions" and had used illegal drugs with another Assistant State's Attorney. He had prosecuted drug cases while engaging in the same conduct as the people he prosecuted. He was never arrested or caught with drugs.
The hearing board concluded that:
"Although the roles of a judge and a prosecutor are different, both must be, and must appear to be, fair and impartial in the execution of their duties. When an Assistant State’s Attorney, as in this case, is engaged in an ongoing pattern of criminal activity, by purchasing and possessing cocaine and cannabis, while he is at the same time prosecuting criminal cases on behalf of the people and the State’s Attorney, the administration of justice is prejudiced. The Respondent demonstrated disrespect and disobedience to the law by engaging in criminal conduct himself, failed to take action against those who he knew were unlawfully delivering cocaine and cannabis, failed to take action against another Assistant State’s Attorney who he knew was unlawfully possessing cocaine and cannabis, and then continued to prosecute others for crimes similar to those he himself was committing. Clearly, there was 'the appearance of impropriety' and citizens would be concerned about an Assistant State’s Attorney continuing to serve as a prosecutor while engaging in criminal conduct himself. In other words, the administration of justice is prejudiced when an attorney is both a prosecutor and a criminal. "
The hearing board considered lack of candor and a failure to understand the seriousness of the misconduct as aggravating factors. (Mike Frisch)