Thursday, July 25, 2013
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.