Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The Illinois Review Board rejected a First Amendment defense to charges of making disparaging remarks about judicial officers and recommended a six-month suspension with reinstatement conditioned on further court order. The attorney represented a client in a custody matter. The board found that:
[Opposing] Attorney...and Judge Murphy testified that during the telephone conversation Respondent stated that he refused to appear before Judge Murphy. He yelled at Judge Murphy and said that he was a "narcissistic, maniacal, mental case, and should not be on the bench." Respondent denied that he raised his voice or that he used the phrase "mental case."
Following this incident, Judge Murphy entered an order requiring Respondent and his client to appear before him on February 21, 2008.
On February 12, 2008, Respondent sent Judge Murphy a letter stating as follows, in relevant part:
I must note further that during our telephone conference on February 8, 2008, you personally stated: "I have no problem with the matter being heard in LaSalle County." If that is correct, and no Motions are pending in Cook County, it is extremely difficult to comprehend any justification or motivation whatsoever for requiring the appearance of counsel other than the interjection of your personal vendetta in an attempt to rationalize your own mistake in summarily placing a 14 year old child with a drug and alcohol addict.
As an officer of the court, 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. I am certain this is the opinion of many other lawyers who are acquainted with you. I am aware of your tendency toward self-promotion and your blatant insinuation that you somehow have a superior ability to ascertain peremptorily and without the presentation of appropriate evidence the best interests of children. Do you in any manner accept the reality of the jeopardy in which you placed this child? Is it possible that you could apologize to my client, who has had custody of this child since birth and suffered weeks of sleepless nights wondering whether her child would return safely from her substance addicted and irresponsible former husband? Are you capable of self-examination, or do you simply react negatively and defensively to any suggestion that you are incapable of error?
In another matter, the board found:
Respondent and his client appeared for a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Judy Heineken. The hearing pertained to allegations that [his client] had sexually abused a minor foster child who was in her care.
During the hearing, Respondent stated several times that ALJ Heineken only "pretended" to be impartial because she was employed by DCFS. Among other things, he stated DCFS was an adversary to his client "and also hires and employs the hearing officer who purports to be independent, which she obviously is not since she's employed by the same agency and under the same state umbrella." He further stated to ALJ Heineken, "Obviously, you're an advocate and adversary to my position in everything that's done here with regard to rules of evidence and your own rules."
Respondent also stated on the record to ALJ Heineken, "I'd be embarrassed to have to take such jobs," and, "Obviously you need to go find a job in the private sector in the real world instead of bothering people with this kind of stuff." Respondent referred to the DCFS proceeding several times as a "kangaroo court" and "a joke" and said that "[t]his is no more a fair hearing than they had in Russia when they were operating under the Soviet system."
ALJ Heineken found that DCFS proved one of the charges against [the client] but did not prove the second charge. Respondent appealed the decision, which the appellate court affirmed. The appellate court noted that Respondent constantly badgered ALJ Heineken and showed disrespect for her and the conduct of the proceeding.
Respondent testified that, by his comments, he simply meant to challenge existing law and that he was offended by the manner in which the proceedings took place.
As to sanction:
Respondent's conduct during the proceedings below supports the Administrator's position that a suspension UFO is appropriate. While facing possible discipline for making unfounded accusations and disparaging remarks about Judge Murphy and ALJ Heineken, he continued to make similar remarks about the Hearing Panel's objectivity and qualifications. This demonstrates to us that the disciplinary process has had no deterrent effect on Respondent, and he does not intend to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct in the future. The court has imposed suspensions UFO in similar situations. (citations omitted) We conclude that Respondent's utter lack of understanding and remorse and his obvious disdain for the disciplinary system require a recommendation of a suspension UFO.
The attorney has no record of prior discipline. (Mike Frisch)