February 12, 2009
Breach Of Confidentiality Charged
The Illinois ARDC has filed charges alleging that an attorney had misused confidential information learned during the course of representating a client. The lawyer and client allegedly were involved in an intimate relationship. The lawyer represented the client in claims of harassment brought against another person. The lawyer reviewed emails from the opposing party, who contended that there was no harassment but rather an intimate relationship with the client. Neither the lawyer or the opposing party was the spouse of the client.
The charges allege:
When Tipton [the opposing party] produced the various e-mails and documents, Respondent asked if she could see the documents. Judge Senechalle told Tipton to give the documents to Respondent and then he called for a recess in the proceedings so the parties could review the evidence.
After Judge Senechalle called for a recess, Respondent told Brennock [the client] to sit down and wait in the courtroom and she asked Tipton to follow her out into the hallway. Brennock followed Respondent and Tipton out into the hallway and down the stairs. Respondent sat down with Tipton and reviewed the documents. During this time, Brennock repeatedly asked Respondent to give him the documents. At no time did Respondent give Brennock the documents or reply to his request that she give him the documents.
While she was reviewing the documents...Brennock informed Respondent that she was discharged as his attorney. Brennock again asked for Respondent to give him the documents. At no time did Respondent give Brennock the documents or reply to his request that she give him the documents.
After reviewing the documents described in Paragraph Five, above, Respondent told Brennock he was "dead" and proceeded back to Judge Senechalle’s courtroom with the documents in her hand.
When case no. 07 OP 40501 was called, Respondent made a motion to withdraw from representing Brennock. Respondent’s motion was granted.
On or about November 30, 2007, in the afternoon, after the court proceedings in case no. 07 OP 40501 were concluded, Respondent called Brennock’s wife, Sally Brennock ("Sally"). At that time, Respondent spoke with Sally and told her about Respondent’s relationship with Brennock, that Respondent had represented Brennock that day in an order of protection matter and that during the course of the proceedings, Respondent learned that Brennock had also been involved in an intimate relationship with a woman named Chablis Tipton, and that Respondent had seen various e-mails and documents which proved that Brennock and Tipton were involved in an intimate relationship.
On or about November 30, 2007, in the evening, Respondent went to a restaurant in Oak Park, IL which she knew was frequented by Sally. At that time, Respondent found Sally in the restaurant. Respondent spoke with Sally again about the information she had seen from Tipton during the court proceedings earlier that day and about Brennock’s relationships with other women.
At no time did Brennock authorize Respondent to disclose any information related to his order of protection matter to Sally or any other individual.
On or about December 17, 2007, Sally filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage against Brennock. The matter was entitled, In re the Marriage of Sally S. Brennock and Matthew S. Brennock, case no. 07 D 12419, in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
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