Thursday, July 25, 2013

Suspension Proposed For Former Public Defender

An Illinois Hearing Board has proposed a 90-day suspension of an assistant public defender for misconduct described in the synopsis of the report:

The Administrator filed an eight-count Complaint against  Respondent alleging Respondent failed to communicate plea offers to several  clients, revealed confidential information, offered to post bond for a client,  and engaged in conduct that disrupted the court. At all times alleged in the  Complaint, Respondent was employed by the Cook County Public Defender's Office  as an assistant public defender.

Respondent initially failed to participate in the  disciplinary proceedings and the factual allegations and disciplinary charges of  the Complaint were deemed admitted. Respondent appeared at the hearing and  presented some evidence in mitigation.

The board related the attorney's background:

Respondent completed her undergraduate studies and law school  while raising six young children. She was admitted to practice in Illinois and  Indiana in 1981 and began working for the Lake County Indiana Prosecutor's  Office. Three years later, Respondent began employment with the  United States Department of Justice doing civil rights work. She then worked for  the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago. In 1995, she went into  private practice with Steven Shobat. She joined the Cook County Public  Defender's Office in 2004. Respondent acknowledged she was fired  from that office in 2012.

During the time of the conduct alleged in the disciplinary  complaint, Respondent was grieving the loss of her mother. She was  also newly assigned to the courtroom and was feeling overwhelmed. Her intentions were to help her clients; she did nothing for personal gain.

The "disruptive" behavior:

On May 18, 2011, Judge Calabrese appointed Respondent to  represent defendant Monica Boyd, who was charged with theft, a Class A  misdemeanor. Ms. Boyd appeared with Respondent before Judge Calabrese and the  matter was set for trial later that same day. However, when the matter was  called for trial, Ms. Boyd was not present. Respondent stated that Boyd had left  the court to pick up her child.

Because Ms. Boyd was not present for her trial, Judge  Calabrese issued a warrant for her arrest. At that time, the following exchange  occurred:

MS. CESAR:     Oh shit.

THE COURT:    What did you say, Ms. Cesar?

MS. CESAR:      Oh shoot, I said. Oh shoot. I'm sorry I didn't talk  to her, Judge. I'm just - - it's my fault. I'm running around, talking to  people.

THE COURT:     I don't think that's what you said.

MS. CESAR:    Whatever. I know the word you think I said. My  mother never let me say that, and I'll tell you why. But I said shoot, darn it.  (Adm. Ex. 5).

Respondent's conduct was disruptive to the court and had no  purpose other than to disrupt the court.

(Mike Frisch)

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