Saturday, January 26, 2013

Attorney Charged With Blogging False Allegations Against Probate Case, System

The Illinois administrator has recently filed a complaint alleging misconduct by an attorney after she was disqualified in a guardianship matter.

The charges involve blogging about the case:

Between December 2009 and November 2011, the court made various findings of law in relation to the Sykes case, some of which involved [her former client] Gloria’s ownership in certain property.  In or about November 2011, Respondent began writing and publishing two Internet web logs (“blogs”) devoted to discussing matters related to Mary Sykes’ probate matter.  The two blogs were entitled, “marygsykes – An attorney blog concerning corruption and greed in the Probate Court of Cook County,” and “marygsykes,” respectively.  Respondent posted her own writings as well as the writings of others on both blogs.  Those writings included allegations that there was corruption in the probate court of Cook County, particularly in relation to Mary Sykes’ probate case, that Sykes was the victim of elder abuse, and that the GALs and the court had acted inappropriately with respect to Sykes’ estate, that they had violated the law, and that they had physically or mentally harmed Sykes. 

Respondent’s blogs were open to the public and were not password-protected.  Respondent knew or should have known that the contents of her blogs were continuously available to anyone with access to the Internet.  Respondent a purported disclaimer on her blogs, which included the following language:

Sorry, but portions of this blog have to be entertaining so we can get the word out.  There is most certainly a great deal of (stinging) truth in it, esp. for the GAL’s (sic), the probate court and a society that ignores (thereby condoning) the sleazy world of probate, and in particular the 18th floor of the Daley Center in Chicago, but everyone needs to understand, these are not pleadings, there is no Motion, Response and Reply set by any court, together with extended legal argument recorded by a court reporter and subject to a Motion to Reconsider if errors or new evidence is found. 

The complaint then sets out the various posts and alleges

Respondent’s blog posts...that there was impropriety going on in relation to the Sykes case; that the GALs and the judges were corrupt; that the GALs and the court had engaged in financial exploitation or had financially profited in some way in relation to Sykes’ guardianship case; that the judge had inappropriately taken away Sykes’ rights; and that Stern, Farenga, and the judge had committed crimes, were false.

Respondent either knew that her statements...were false or she made the statements with reckless disregard as to their truth or falsity.

We previously reported on a complaint brought against an Illinois attorney who allegedly violation her duty of client confidentiality by blogging about clients and cases. There does not appear to be such a charge here.

Given that, I think that there may be a substantial First Amendment defense to this complaint. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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