Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No Regrets

An Illinois hearing board has recommended a three-year suspension with the last 19 months stayed, followed by 24 months probation with required treatment for anger management based on its findings in connection with the following charges:

Count I alleged that in February 2008, after receiving unfavorable rulings from a Circuit Court Judge, the Respondent participated in a conference call with the judge and another attorney. During the conference call the Respondent stated to the judge "you are a narcissistic, maniacal, mental case" and "you should not be on the bench." A few days later, the Respondent sent the judge a letter, in which the Respondent said "I must bluntly state that you appear to have serious mental issues involving extreme narcissism and illusions of grandiosity which effectively interferes with your ability to act as a judge."

Count II alleged that in 1997 the Respondent, while representing a client at an administrative hearing with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, made several inappropriate comments to the Administrative Law Judge. The Respondent’s comments included saying "this is a kangaroo court;" referring to opposing counsel as the judge’s "fellow employee;" stating the judge was "an advocate and adversary to my position in everything that’s done here;" saying he would be "embarrassed to have to take such jobs [as Administrative Law Judge];" and stating that the proceeding was "no more a fair hearing than they had in Russia when they were operating under the Soviet system."

Count III alleged that in 2004, the Respondent stated to another attorney in a courtroom that the attorney was "unethical" and "you must be from a Jewish firm."

The hearing board majority called the misconduct serious, noting mitigating and aggravating factors. On the plus side was no prior discipline and favorable character testimony from his secretary. On the minus side was his attitude--not sorry and accusing the hearing board of being selected by his opponents.

A dissent favored a longer suspension:

I concur with the majority’s findings of misconduct and with most of what is stated in the Recommendation Section of the Hearing Board Report. However, I respectfully disagree with the sanction recommended by the majority. I believe that, in light of the aggravation discussed below, a suspension until further order of the Court is warranted and that the Respondent should be required to serve an actual suspension of 12 months before the probation commences.

The Respondent’s misconduct demonstrated a lack of respect for the legal system, the disciplinary system, and other members of the legal profession by making insulting and offensive comments to a Circuit Court Judge, on two occasions, and to an Administrative Law Judge throughout the course of an administrative hearing, without any legitimate reason for making such comments. He also made insulting and offensive remarks to another attorney by accusing the attorney of being unethical and then adding "you must be from a Jewish law firm."

While the Respondent’s misconduct itself is serious, more worrisome to me is the fact that the Respondent failed to recognize that he did anything wrong and failed to show any remorse or repentance for his actions. As pointed out by the majority, the Supreme Court has voiced concern that the failure of an attorney to recognize, understand or show remorse for his or her misconduct makes it more likely that the attorney will repeat the misconduct in the future.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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