Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter

The Illinois Administrator has charged an attorney with ethical violations in two matters assigned to him as an assistant state's attorney.

One set of charges involve his interactions with a juvenile that he was prosecuting. The juvenile was on probation. He was assigned to handle her probation revocation matter.

The juvenile was arrested on a warrant and picked up additional charges of resisting arrest. She was locked up and they saw each other in court proceedings. The attorney learned that she drank to intoxication "almost daily" and was dating a 30 year. He was 34.

In a courthouse encounter, the attorney learned that the juvenile was interested in photojournalism. He offered to lend her a camera and showed up at her grandparent's house (where she was staying). The complaint alleges:

Respondent drove to K.I.’s grandparents’ home and stated that he was there to lend K.I. a camera to assist her in her pursuit of her photography career. Respondent invited K.I. to join him in a shopping trip to Sterling, Illinois. K.I. agreed and accompanied Respondent in his car to Wal-Mart and dinner at Appleby’s restaurant. On the route home in the car, K.I. told Respondent that she had "a crush on him forever." Respondent asked K.I. if she wanted to "hang out" again, and K.I. told Respondent that she was going to a halfway house. Respondent and K.I. returned her grandparents’ home, and before K.I. exited the car, Respondent kissed K.I. Respondent placed his hand on K.I.’s knee and invited her back to his apartment. K.I. refused, departed the car and Respondent drove away.

On January 25, 2010, Respondent sent the following four text messages to K.I.:

"11:23 a.m. Good morning! I had fun last night and I am looking forward to seeing you again tonight. Also, for right now, let’s not create gossip, so let’s be discrete.

12:05 p.m. Let’s take some pictures tonight.

4:02 p.m. I think I can get out of here by 4:30. How about I pick you up at 5:00?

4:07 p.m. Hey this is hunter. Just checking 2 c if my txts r getting 2 u.

K.I. did not respond to the text messages. Respondent then telephoned K.I. K.I.’s grandmother answered the telephone and asked Respondent not to communicate further with her granddaughter.

Hunter is the attorney's first name.

The matter was disclosed to the juvenile's probation officer. The attorney was confronted by his superiors and allowed to resign rather than fired.

The charges in a second matter assigned to the attorney for prosecution are set forth in the Administrator's complaint:

As a result of Respondent’s position as Assistant’s State’s Attorney and his prosecution of the A.F. case wherein J.C. was the State’s primary witness and victim, both J.C. and her mother, N.C., trusted Respondent and believed he was pursuing J.S. best interests because of his position as an Assistant State’s Attorney.

After June 2009, during the course of his prosecution of the A.F. matter, Respondent developed a personal relationship with J.C. Respondent and J.C. exchanged e-mails and text messages, and communicated on Facebook and MySpace about matters of a personal nature and matters unrelated to the prosecution of A.F. Respondent also occasionally met J.C. alone and for swing dance lessons. In addition, J.C. placed Respondent on her MySpace on her Heroes Page, and the defendant’s attorney introduced Respondent’s My Space page into evidence.

As a result of the interactions between Respondent, J.C. and her family, the State’s Attorney, advised Respondent that he was concerned that Respondent’s objectivity had been called into question. The State’s Attorney advised Respondent to have no further outside contact with J.C. or her family, until the A.F. case was concluded, and also removed Respondent from any further involvement in the case.

On January 9, 2010, N.C., sent an e-mail to Respondent advising Respondent that J.C. was 16 years old and that she did not approve of her spending time alone with Respondent.

On January 14, 2010, N.C. sent Respondent an email advising him that even after J.C.’s 17th birthday, N.C. did not want Respondent to be alone with J.C.

On January 16, 2010, J.C. had her 17th birthday. Shortly thereafter, Respondent informed J.C. that since she was 17, she "was of legal age to date anyone."

On January 22, 2010, A.F.’s attorney filed a motion for to adjudicate A.F.’s fitness for trial in the case, requesting a fitness hearing on behalf of his client, who had been involved in a serious car accident and had sustained brain injuries. On February 3, 2010, the Judge presiding entered an order directing a fitness examination.

On February 22, 2010, J.C. and her sister told N. C. that they were going to a high school basketball game. J.C. dropped her sister off at the high school and then drove to Respondent’s apartment. At that time, Respondent kissed J.C. and touched her breasts.

The complaint charges that the above conduct violated several rules of professional conduct. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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