January 29, 2008
Fees In Booze
In a case where the lawyer already is serving a lenghty suspension, an Illinois hearing board recommends a two-year and until further court order suspension for failing to act with diligence and to return an unearned fee. After personal service of the charges, the accused attorney failed to file a response. On the day of the hearing, he faxed an emergency motion to continue the hearing, claiming that he had not had actual notice of the hearing until his father told him about it and that he could not attend due to his father's medical condition. He also claimed that his father was "possibly having heart surgery" to a bar investigator. The father told the bar investigator that he knew nothing about the disciplinary hearing, had a scheduled doctor's appointment but no plans for heart surgery. Continuance denied. Default entered.
As to the fresh, client-related misconduct, the client had a misdemeanor battery charge and a related civil matter. The attorney asked for his fee in cash "because he was in the process of a divorce and wished to hide his money from his wife." He thereafter took fees in liquor rather than cash (the client owned a liquor store) and once in Vicodin. He misled the client into believing that he was working diligently on the case. (Mike Frisch)
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