Monday, April 11, 2011

High Dudgeon

An Illinois Hearing Board rejected most of the Administrator's charges against an attorney for his conduct in seeking fees from the firm where he had worked as an independent contractor.The hearing board describes the allegations:

All of the charges in this case arise out of a dispute between Respondent and his former law firm, D-L, over fees. Respondent had worked for the firm as an independent contractor for several years before he was terminated. Thereafter, he sought to collect attorney’s fees for work he had done prior to his termination. Although the Complaint includes some allegations regarding liens that he filed in other matters, most of the charges center on Respondent’s efforts to collect a portion of the fees awarded as part of the class action settlement in the Eckhaus case. The Administrator alleges that, in an effort to collect on these claims, Respondent filed frivolous litigation, offered false evidence, made misrepresentations, and improperly attacked the integrity and qualifications of a judge. Respondent was specifically charged with the following misconduct: 1.) bringing a proceeding, or asserting or controverting an issue therein, when there is no basis for doing so that is not frivolous, and without a good-faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law, in violation of Rule 3.1; 2.) making a statement of material fact or law to a tribunal which the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is false, in violation of Rule 3.3(a)(1); 3.) offering evidence that the lawyer knows to be false, or failing to take remedial measures when the lawyer comes to know of the falsity, in violation of Rule 3.3(a)(4); 4.) making a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge in violation of Rule 8.2(a); 5.)  engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation inviolation of Rule 8.4(a)(4); 6.) engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5); and 7.) engaging in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.

The only charge that the hearing board sustained was the Rule 8.2 violation. The basis was this attack on a judge:

Respondent filed a Motion for Substitution of Judge for Cause and for Transfer of the Action to the Circuit Court of Cook County. That motion included, inter alia, the following statements:

- Although the court’s disregard for the law in all of its various manifestations has been indiscriminate, ignoring cases, statutes, procedural rules, principles of sound public policy, controlling United States Supreme Court precedent on issues of federal law, and both state and federal constitutional authority, it may be asserted that even such judicial roguery should not necessarily occasion a motion to remove a judge from a case for cause.

- Nor, further still, in isolation, it could be argued, should a judge’s failure to apply logic and reason to a legal matter necessarily require removal for cause.

- [T]he Judge’s conduct of this matter has from the beginning been tainted by his evident and apparently profound dislike of me.

- There was, on the Judge’s part, given the complexity of the issues raised, an appallingly hasty rush to judgment that can only be explained through bias and, literally, "pre-judging."

- The proceedings, in short, have been irredeemably corrupted by prejudice and disdain for one party and the concomitant elevation of the interests of one party over the other.

- Where judiciousness, thoughtfulness, and restraint have been called for, instead the Judge has displayed contempt for one party and demonstrated an inability to adjudicate the matter according to law as the Rules of the Illinois Supreme Court and the Code of Judicial Conduct require.

- Any litigant deserves to have their matter decided according to the law and not the whims of a judge whose actions have been clouded by bias and his reason betrayed by prejudice. "According to law" means citations to authority; it means actually reading briefs; it means giving reasons when ruling; and it means conducting the matter with fairness and impartiality. These basic duties have been ignored in this matter.

- The conduct of this matter by Judge Dudgeon has been—no other word—a disgrace.

Although he acknowledged filing this motion, Respondent testified that he never actually presented it for hearing.

The hearing board recommended a censure and completion of the ARDC course in professionalism.

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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