Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Charges Allege Excess Zeal

The Illinois Administrator has filed a complaint alleging misconduct by an attorney appointed by a county public defender to (i) represent a juvenile charged with criminal sexual assault and (ii) represent the parents in a matter involving protective custody of their injured child. The public defender represented the child in the second matter.

The alleged conduct sounds in overzealousness. In the first, the complaint alleges:

...Respondent issued a subpoena to the Island Lake Police Department (hereinafter, "ILPD") in case number 07 JD 370, demanding that they produce any evidence of video and audio surveillance related to [his client]  Bradley C. Shortly thereafter, Respondent received ILPD’s response to the subpoena indicating there was no video or audio surveillance related to Bradley C.

...Respondent went to the ILPD station...and approached the dispatch window. At that time, he told Kathy Vasquez (hereinafter, "Vasquez"), the dispatcher, that he was "with the State’s Attorney’s office" and asked her whether there was functional video or audio surveillance in the ILPD lobby. Respondent also asked about the events of May 12, 2007, when Bradley C. came to the ILPD. Vasquez told Respondent that there was no functioning video or audio surveillance in the ILPD lobby, and that he should address any questions about the Bradley C. matter to the assigned officer. Respondent then exited the ILPD.

Respondent’s representation to Vasquez that he was with the State’s Attorney’s office was false, and he knew it was false. Respondent’s statement to Vasquez that he was with the State’s Attorney’s office was intended to cause Vasquez to speak to him about matters relating to the Bradley C. case.

...Vasquez reported her conversation with Respondent to Officer John Nikopoulos (hereinafter, "Officer Nikopoulos"), who recorded the license plate number of Respondent’s vehicle as he departed the ILPD. Shortly thereafter, Officer Nikopoulos contacted the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office and determined that Respondent was an Assistant Public Defender and did not work for the State’s Attorney’s office.

In the second matter, he is alleged to have falsely represented himself as an assistant state's attorney to a child protective investigator and also to have engaged in what the complaint calls "unauthorized copying." The appointed attorneys in abuse and neglect cases share space and staff with the public defenders. One of the public defenders representing the juvenile inadvertantly left original medical records of the client on a copy machine. The accused attorney found them there and copied them without permission. According to the complaint:

[Public defender] Gordon went to Respondent’s office and asked him why he had copied the medical records without authorization, and Respondent sarcastically responded to Gordon "shame on me." Respondent also told Gordon at that time to "go ahead and report me to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission."

[The next day] Respondent [editor's note: I assume this reference should be to Gordon] informed Gossman [the chief public defender] about Respondent’s copying of the medical records that [public defender] Hayward inadvertently left on the copier in relation to case number 09 JA 41, and about her conversation with Respondent...

...Gossman met with Respondent to discuss his copying of the medical records. At that time, Respondent acknowledged copying the documents from the copier and said that he would repeat the conduct if he found documents on the copier in future. Gossman then demoted Respondent (removing him as a supervisor), suspended him for a week without pay, placed him on probation for six months, transferred him to the felony division in Waukegan, and instructed him not to have further involvement with case number 09 JA 41.

Shortly thereafter, Respondent went to the Lake County Public Defender’s Juvenile Division office in Vernon Hills, obtained the Public Defender’s file from case number 09 JA 41, and removed documents from the file, including copies of motions that he had filed in the matter.

...after Gossman learned that Respondent had gone to the Juvenile Division, pulled the file from case number 09 JA 41, and removed documents from that file, she terminated Respondent’s employment with the Lake County Public Defender’s office.

The complaint charges that this conduct violated Rules 8.4(a)(4) and (5) and "tend[ed] to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute..." (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2009/12/the-illinois-administrator-has-filed-a-complaint-alleging-misconduct-by-an-attorney-appointed-by-a-county-public-defender-to.html

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