Friday, August 10, 2012

Disbarment By A Cigar

Here's a case involving a basis for discipline that I have not previously encountered.

An Illinois Hearing Board has recommended disbarment of an attorney convicted of smuggling cigars from Cuba:

On April 5, 2001, an eight-count indictment was returned against Respondent in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois charging Respondent with conspiracy to smuggle Cuban cigars into the United States, smuggling goods into the United States, violations of the Trading with the Enemy Act and related regulations, and making false statements on a passport application...

On October 9, 2002, a jury found Respondent guilty of all eight counts of the indictment...

The charges of misconduct against the Respondent are based upon his conviction stemming from an eight-count indictment in which Respondent was charged with conspiracy, smuggling goods into the United States, violating the Trading with the Enemy Act and making false statements on a passport application. Respondent was found guilty of each charge set forth in the indictment. Respondent was sentenced to thirty-seven months imprisonment and ordered to pay a $60,000 fine and $650 assessment fee. On March 21, 2006, Respondent's conviction was affirmed by the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The attorney testified that he had gone to Cuba for the lawful purpose of visiting a woman that he was engaged to.

He had previously been suspended for one year as a result of unrelated misconduct.

The opinion affirming the conviction is linked here.

From the opinion:

Divorce rates are disturbingly high.   Sometimes, marital splits get nasty when an ex-spouse decides to dish out a little dose of discomfort to his or her former partner.   And as far as dishing out discomfort is concerned, the havoc visited on Chicago lawyer Richard Connors by his ex-wife would win a gold medal for creativity.   With substantial assistance from his ex, Connors stands convicted in federal court of (among other things) violating a law we seldom encounter, the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA), 50 U.S.C.App. §§ 5(b)(1) and 16.   Today, we resolve Connors's appeal from that conviction.

The court noted that Cuban cigars have a certain cachet and relied on Rudyard Kipling's observation that all cigars are special in footnote 2:

“[A] woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a Smoke.”

EVANS, Circuit Judge.

(Mike Frisch)

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