May 13, 2009
An Illinois hearing board has recommended a one year suspension with reinstatement conditioned on further court order in a case where the attorney had refused to participate in the disciplinary case. One of the counts involved the following conduct:
United States Marine Corps Sergeant Michael McNulty owned a 2002 BMW automobile that had U.S. Marine Corps license plates and a U.S. Marine Corps bumper sticker. On December 1, 2007, Respondent intentionally scraped a metal object along the passenger side of Sgt. McNulty’s vehicle while it was parked. At that same time, Respondent made the following remark to Sgt. McNulty: "Just because you are in the military you don’t run the roost!" Respondent’s actions caused approximately $2,500 in damage to Sgt. McNulty’s vehicle.
Respondent was subsequently arrested in connection with this incident and charged with criminal damage to property in violation of 720 ILCS 5.0/21-1-1-A. People of the State of Illinois v. Jay Grodner, Cook County Circuit Court Docket No. 071318441. On January 18, 2008, in a proceeding before the Honorable William P. O’Malley, Respondent stipulated to a set of facts, including the fact that he "knowingly damaged" Sgt. McNulty’s vehicle when he "without consent rubbed along the passenger side of the vehicle causing scratches." Based on the stipulation, Judge O’Malley found Respondent guilty of criminal damage to property, a Class A Misdemeanor. Respondent was sentenced to one year of supervision, ordered to pay $600 in restitution, and required to complete 30 hours of community service.
The other charges related to neglect of client matters and non-cooperation with the bar investigation. The attorney had previously been disciplined for misconduct that had taken place in 1978:
Respondent was previously censured by the Court in 1983 for misconduct that occurred in 1978 in a matter entitled In re Armentrout, 99 Ill.2d 242, 457 N.E.2d 1262 (1983). That case, which involved a number of different respondents, arose out of a scheme orchestrated by Eugene Armentrout, then the State’s Attorney of Kane County, to gather the signatures necessary to place a state-wide advisory referendum on the ballot in an upcoming election by forging voters’ signatures on the required petitions. The plan was implemented through a procedure referred to as "roundtabling," whereby a group of people gathers and circulates petitions to one another and, using names obtained from the phone book or voter registration lists, forges signatures on the petitions. Respondent was one of a number of attorneys who took part in several of these roundtabling sessions.
At the time that this misconduct took place, Respondent was 26 years old and had been licensed to practice law for only three months. He was working as an assistant state’s attorney in Kane County for Armentrout and was recruited to participate in the scheme by another assistant state’s attorney who was acting at Armentrout’s direction. In a criminal proceeding against the various parties involved, Respondent pled guilty to one count of violation of the Election Code. He was sentenced to 6 months of supervision, fined $1,000 and later had his record expunged.
The hearing board did not accord significant weight to the prior misconduct. (Mike Frisch)
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