Thursday, July 21, 2011

Swim Or Sink

An Illinois Hearing Board agreed that a reprimand as jointly recommended by the parties was the appropriate sanction for a former client conflict of interest and failure to cooperate in a series of bar complaints.

The facts:

The Administrator and Respondent jointly stipulate that the evidence would establish, and the Hearing Board may find, that in 2007, Respondent entered his appearance on behalf of Aaron Eggers in a dissolution of marriage case, after having previously advised Egger’s former spouse, Tina Swim, in 2002, on issues in the same case while Swim was visiting Respondent’s then secretary and spouse, Julie Wolfe. Respondent did not use any confidential information he may have learned from Swim against her during his representation of Eggers.

 On October 30, 2007, Swim filed a motion to disqualify Respondent. The motion was never heard, and on July 29, 2008, Respondent voluntarily withdrew from the dissolution of marriage case, cited reasons other than the asserted conflict, including that his father was terminally ill and dying. Respondent’s actions violated Rule 1.9(a) and tended to defeat the administration of justice, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.

In 2008 and 2009, the Administrator was conducting four investigations into allegations involving Respondent. Respondent did not respond in any way to the Administrator’s requests for information regarding his contacts with Tina Swim, and Respondent had no good cause for failing to respond. In all four of the matters, Respondent agreed on several occasions to appear for a sworn statement, then cancelled each appearance. For some of the non-appearances, Respondent felt that he could not appear in front of the assigned Administrator’s counsel because he had sued her in federal court, an order staying discovery had been entered in the federal case, and he felt the assigned counsel had a conflict of interest in investigating Respondent. While the Administrator does not concede there was such a conflict during the investigation, the Administrator notes that once the instant hearing case was filed, Respondent cooperated by, among other things, appearing for a deposition and complying with the Administrator’s discovery requests.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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