Friday, April 23, 2010

Disturbing Behavior Alleged

The Illinois Administrator has filed a complaint charging a lawyer with inappropriate actions towards clients. As usual, the complaint is pled in great and specific detail. One charge:

..[the client] went to Respondent’s Springfield home and signed the paperwork hiring Respondent’s firm to represent him.

At all times alleged in this count, Respondent had a fiduciary duty to [the client] which required that he not abuse his position of authority and trust, and that he place the best interests of his client above his own self-interests.

...Respondent left a voice message on [the client's] home telephone. In the message, Respondent asked [him] to call him and let him know the date of a doctor’s appointment. Respondent further said in the message, "if you get an hour or two, and if you like, you can come over. I’m home today and this weekend and I can talk to you about how I lost weight and you can help me with something, too." Respondent asked [the client] to return the call to his home telephone.

...[the client] telephoned Respondent’s home. During the conversation with [him], Respondent began talking about a sexual experience he once had had, and described it to [the client] in explicit detail. Respondent told [the client] that he would like to have the same experience with [him]. [The client] told Respondent that he was having trouble understanding what Respondent was saying, and he ended the conversation.

...The conversation...disturbed[the client]. He told his wife about the conversation, and they decided to call Respondent back. [The client] telephoned Respondent a few minutes later, and [his] wife listened to the conversation with [him] on the speaker phone. During the conversation, [the client] told Respondent he had not understood what Respondent was saying and asked Respondent "what the other thing was that he [Respondent] wanted me to do." Respondent told [the client] that he was "interested in experiencing something and that [the client] would not have to reciprocate or anything." When [the client] asked what Respondent was talking about, Respondent again related in explicit detail an experience of oral sex that he had once had.

[The client] told Respondent that he was "not that way" and was not interested in such an encounter with Respondent. [The client] ended the conversation.

...Respondent left a voice message on[the client's] cell phone, stating that he was "not that way" either, that he just wanted to have the experience, and that if [he] knew of anyone who would like to have such an experience, to give them Respondent’s telephone number.

...[the client]still disturbed by the tenor of Respondent’s messages, then hired new counsel.

And from a client in a workers compensation matter:

Approximately two weeks after their first meeting, Respondent began calling [the client] approximately twice a week. Each time Respondent telephoned, the conversation began with a discussion of business and ended with Respondent telling [the client], who lived in Jacksonville, Illinois, that if she came to Springfield, he would take her out for something to eat, fill up her gas tank, give her money, and massage her back.

...Respondent telephoned [the client] and told her he had called to see how she was doing. Respondent offered to give her money and told her that if she came to Springfield and "bent over," he would massage her back, legs and feet, pay for her gasoline, take her to dinner and give her $100. He told her he could "rock her world." Respondent’s comments disturbed [her]. 

...[the client] reported the conversation to a member of the law office’s clerical staff.  [Another firm attorney] then discussed the matter with [the client]  and [he] took over handling her case.

One thing that disturbs me is that the complaint identifies both of the clients by name. I have been contacted by Illinois bar complainants twice in the past who have expressed dismay at being publicly identified in an Illinois bar complaint. (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2010/04/the-illinois-administrator-has-filed-a-complaint-charging-a-lawyer-with-inappropriate-actions-towards-clients-as-usual-the.html

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Comments

Why should a complainant expect privacy? Fear of retribution? Obviously the respondent knows who the complainant is and most likely has quite a bit of information on the complainant so it cannot be that.

Didn't this issue come up once before but in relation to disclosure of the identity of the respondent in the complaint? Then you said that it was reasonable for Illinois to identify the respondent even while the charge was just an allegation.

I'm not sure how you square those two positions. Personally, I would side on making the entire matter public from the beginning.

Incidentally, in every complaint I have had to respond to I have immediately moved to make the matter public. Except in one case, the disciplinary bodies have always opposed these motions and invariably the courts do not decide them preferring to wait until the issue becomes moot. In all of these cases it has been courts or the judiciary who have been the complainants. In none has there been private parties who one might argue need protecting.

Stephen

Posted by: FixedWing | Apr 23, 2010 11:51:35 AM

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