Thursday, July 2, 2020

Text Messages Draw Bar Charges

A number of text messages sent by an attorney are the subject of allegations brought by the Illinois Administrator.

In one matter, after the representation had terminated in a family law matter

At the time Respondent represented Newton, Newton was in a relationship with Katherine Ashworth ("Ashworth"). On at least one occasion, Ashworth accompanied Newton to Respondent’s office. On March 18, 2019, the court in case number 2018D2 ordered that parenting time between Newton and his minor child was to be held outside of the presence of Ashworth due to allegations that, while in Ashworth’s care, the minor child suffered injuries including chigger bites while playing in the yard. On or after March 18, 2019, Newton terminated his relationship with Ashworth.

Then, it is alleged

On September 26, 2019, Respondent and Ashworth exchanged the following text messages using Facebook Messenger:

Respondent: "Does your husband ever intend to pay anything towards his legal fees at Brainard?"

Ashworth: "I’m not married sorry, think you have the wrong person."

Respondent: "No relation to Dane Newton? Sorry to bother you."

[Ashw]orth: "Nope."

Respondent: "Baloney. Thanks for nothing."

"Lol [laughing out loud] shows what kind of people you both are."

On September 26, 2019, Ashworth and Respondent continued to exchange text messages using Facebook Messenger, including the following:

Ashworth: "I have no idea what you are talking about."

Respondent: "Of course you don’t. Ask [minor child’s name omitted] and the bedbugs. Harold knows."

Ashworth: "Some lawyer you are telling other people’s business."

Respondent: "Umm. Ok then. You were a witness at his trial and his girlfriend."

"Hope you don’t lose this kid like the last. Maybe you both should pay your bills. F**king deadbeats."


At the time Respondent sent the text messages described...above, he knew that Ashworth had suffered a prior miscarriage. Respondent’s statements that Ashworth was a "f**king deadbeat" and that he hoped "you don’t lose this kid like the last" had no other purpose than to harass and embarrass Ashworth.

In a separate matter involving his eviction from his law office and files left behind, he allegedly sent the following to the landlord's spouse

Mrs. Smallhorn: "I would like to be done with this situation as soon as possible. Let me know when you would like to get your files"

"Also your business cards and chair are still here"

Respondent: "You and me both. Not sure who this is I am talking to."

Mrs. Smallhorn: "Again this is Laura Smallhorn. Let’s make a plan to remove your files."

Respondent: "After yesterday it will be difficult. You people are frankly trash."

Mrs. Smallhorn: "Name calling isn’t going to get your things out of our office any quicker. I’m going to end this conversation today. In a few days when you are ready to discuss moving your files please let me know."

Respondent: "Yeah. You’re the one who was swearing all over the place. Fat bitch."

There is one additional text exchange and charges of lack of diligence in a third unrelated count. (mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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