March 11, 2013
False Blog Post Draws Proposed Sanction
The Illinois Review Board has recommended a 30 day suspension of an attorney for false or misleading statements concerning her disciplinary record on a blog, in connection with her candidacy for judicial office
Respondent's act in drafting and sending the e-mail for publication was an intentional and deliberate act. Respondent's e-mail was undisputedly intended to blunt the criticism of her conduct in the CCL [Chicago Council of Lawyers] evaluation. Respondent's actions may have been "in haste" but were not inadvertent: she had three days to craft her 700 plus word response to the blog post and the CCL evaluation. At the time she drafted her response, she should have known and could easily have known that she had not been exonerated by the ARDC, contrary to the impression she created in the response. While she may have been "upset" and "sleep deprived" as she has claimed, she clearly had the presence of mind to research the Code of Judicial Conduct and to describe in some detail the very cases that were the subject of the ARDC Inquiry Board proceedings, yet she did not take the obvious and simple step of looking at her own letters from the ARDC which were clear and unambiguous. Like attorney Thomas she "chose not to take the simple step of verifying her status".
The effect of the e-mail was deceitful and, under the Court's analysis in Thomas, Respondent violated Rule 8.4(a)(4). Her beliefs, even if sincere, that she had a full hearing before the Inquiry Board, that she had been exonerated, that the public could learn the outcome of the ARDC's investigation, and that she did not believe her statements were deceptive to readers of the blog, were "entirely unreasonable". See, Thomas, 2012 IL 113035 at 123. Those "beliefs", like those of Thomas, simply ignored unpleasant facts that were clear as day and readily available. Both Respondents chose to recklessly shut their eyes and engage in the sort of wishful thinking that would allow them to accomplish ends which would not be possible if they had verified easily verifiable facts. In so doing they violated Rule 8.4(a)(4).
The attorney also engaged in misconduct in a closing argument in a criminal case she prosecuted.
A dissent favors a reprimand. (Mike Frisch)
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