Thursday, December 6, 2018
An attorney who represented a client in multiple matters has been charged with a conflict of interest by the Illinois Administrator
In the meeting on December 5, 2017, Respondent presented to [client] Gresham a quit claim deed by which Gresham would convey her house and real estate in Wood River, Illinois, to Respondent's law firm, Maag Law Firm, LLC. Gresham resided in the property and had owned it since 2010. The deed that Respondent presented to Gresham recited that the consideration for the conveyance was "$30,000 in legal services in hand paid" to her. Gresham signed the deed. Respondent and Gresham understood and agreed that after the conveyance, Gresham would continue to reside in the Wood River property indefinitely. After the execution of the deed, Gresham continued to reside there.
According to Respondent, Gresham's conveyance of her residence was in payment of the $10,000 fixed fee for representation in the new misdemeanor cases and in payment of $20,000 that Gresham allegedly owed to Respondent for previous legal services. Respondent claimed that he had earned legal fees totaling $20,000 for his services in the child custody and support case (number 07-F-336) which Gresham had not paid.
At no time did Respondent prepare, and at no time did he or Gresham sign, a written agreement that reflected premises, terms or conditions of the real estate transaction.
The attorney recorded the deed and while counsel of record in both criminal and civil matters
On March 2, 2018, while he continued to serve as Gresham's attorney in ongoing legal matters, Respondent sent a letter to her in which he directed her to vacate the Wood River house. In the letter, Respondent offered "to discuss a formal lease" with Gresham in the event that she wished to return to the house, after she vacated it and certain repairs were completed.
On March 3, 2018, Respondent conveyed the Wood River property by quit claim deed from his law firm to Maag Holdings, LLC, which was a business entity in which Respondent owned a 50% interest.
As of April 3, 2018, Respondent continued to represent Gresham in ongoing legal matters, including case number 07-F-336, the lawsuits in case numbers 17-L-284 and 17-L-1653, and the misdemeanor charge in case number 17-CM-100712.
On April 3, 2018, Respondent filed a lawsuit against Gresham seeking her eviction from the house in Wood River and monetary compensation for alleged damage that she caused to the property. The matter was docketed in the Circuit Court for Madison County as case number 18-LM-372, titled Maag Holdings, LLC, Plaintiff, v. Brittany Rose Nicole Gresham, Defendant.
Gresham obtained counsel from Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc., to represent her in the eviction matter and filed responsive pleadings, including claims against Respondent of fraud and unconscionability in relation to the transaction for the quit claim deed on December 5, 2017. On May 31, 2018, the court in case number 18-L-372 entered an order that dismissed the litigation on terms that included, among other things, that Respondent convey the Wood River property back to Gresham.