Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The Illinois Review Board has recommended a one-year suspension in a case where the charged misconduct was summarized as follows:
"The charges arose out of Erwin’s representation of a client, Amber Quitno, who was employed as an exotic dancer. The complaint charged, and Erwin admitted, that Erwin agreed to give Quitno credit on bills for his legal services in exchange for her performing striptease dances for him. The complaint also charged that Erwin, while representing Quitno, touched her in a sexual manner without her consent and made false statements to police when questioned about Quitno’s allegations. Erwin denied that conduct."
Lawyer and client met at a "gentleman's club" named Heartbreakers. According to the review board:
"Erwin and Quitno met in summer 2001, when Erwin was at Heartbreakers as a customer and Quitno performed a dance for him. Thereafter, Quitno retained Erwin to represent her in connection with several legal matters. Erwin also represented Quitno’s husband and mother in various matters. One of the cases in which Erwin represented Quinto was a civil lawsuit against a doctor, alleging that he had sexually abused Quitno. In that case, Erwin and Quitno had a contingent fee arrangement. In the other matters, Erwin worked on an hourly basis.
Quitno was having difficulty paying Erwin’s bills and spoke with Erwin about this. They agreed that Quitno would dance for Erwin in exchange for credit against her legal bills. On more than one occasion, Quitno danced for Erwin, in his office and at Heartbreakers. In return, Erwin gave Quitno credit against legal fees due. During these dances, Quitno removed her clothing. Quitno also went to Erwin’s office and modeled outfits for him that she had purchased for her work. Erwin admitted this activity and expressed remorse for it.
Quitno testified that, at various times in his office and elsewhere, during the time he was representing her, Erwin touched Quitno’s breasts, buttocks, and vagina and penetrated her vagina with his finger. Erwin denied any such touching. The Hearing Board was presented with detailed evidence, fully described in its report, on this issue and on the relative credibility of the witnesses. " The hearing board had credited Quitnos' testimony in that regard.
The review board concluded that "[t]he proven misconduct warrants a significant sanction. [The fees for striptease arrangement] is reprehensible in and of itself." Also, the lawyer "repeatedly touched [the client] in a sexual manner without her consent, while he was representing her. Such conduct warrants significant discipline." (Mike Frisch)