Thursday, January 2, 2014
The Illinois Review Board rejected probation in favor of a six-month suspension of an attorney for misconduct in the course of representing the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
We believe probation is entirely unwarranted in this case for two principal reasons: 1. There was no evidence that the misconduct occurred as a result of a temporary minor condition and 2. The nature of the misconduct (i.e., filing numerous frivolous suits, threatening former clients with divulging confidential information in order to extract a financial settlement for himself, and causing financial harm to a Judge who was clearly just doing his duty) is simply not the kind of conduct that lends itself to monitoring and are not the extenuating circumstances found in In re Jordan. The Hearing Board stated that in their view, Respondent did not act out any malevolent intent, but acted out of "unresolved anger." This statement was not based on any medical testimony or any evidence whatsoever. Instead, the Hearing Board concluded that Respondent had "unresolved anger" issues based simply upon their observations of Respondent. Respondent, himself, rejected the prospect of anger management therapy.
The Hearing Board had recommended probation but the Review Board disagreed
Respondent's conduct in repeatedly filing frivolous actions is serious. The Hearing Board concluded that Respondent's actions resulted from "very poor judgment and a lack of objectivity." While we do not disagree with this statement, we are troubled by his conduct in threatening his opposing counsel and his clients in order to settle his civil claims. His letter to his clients threatening to disclose confidential information is particularly alarming and reflects a disturbing tendency by Respondent to ignore his ethical and professional obligations in order to obtain a personal victory. Such a tendency does not bode well for his future representation of clients.
In mitigation, Respondent has not been previously disciplined. Also in mitigation, Respondent testified that during this period, his sister died after returning from three tours of duty in Iraq. Respondent testified that her death affected his ability to deal with people. Finally, Respondent testified he was involved in bar association activities. He did not present any character testimony.
The misconduct took place after the attorney was discharged as chief legislative counsel. (Mike Frisch)