Friday, March 31, 2023

Land Of Lincoln Lawyers

From summaries of recent Illinois Supreme Court orders that show  both a busy docket and a wide array of behaviors that led to professional sanction.

A sampling

Mr. Manges, who was licensed in 2003, was disbarred for forging his employer's signature on hundreds of checks payable to the employer or his law firm, and for using the proceeds of those checks, more than $165,000, for his own purposes without authority.

Ms. Williams, who was licensed in 2005, was suspended for 90 days after she pled guilty to forgery for submitting a falsified public service worksheet to a court services office in an attempt to show that she had complied with her sentence for a speeding infraction. The suspension is effective on April 11, 2023.

Mr. Morgan was licensed in Illinois in 2002 and admitted as in-house counsel in Arizona in 2019. Arizona attorney discipline authorities admonished him for engaging in the practice of law in Arizona without timely registering as in-house counsel. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded him.

Mr. Casper, who was licensed in 2010, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after 60 days by a two-year period of probation with conditions. While representing a group of employees in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Chicago and various individual defendants, Mr. Casper called one of the defendants whom he knew to be represented by counsel and had an approximately 20-minute conversation about the case. He later falsely stated to that defendant's counsel that he made no such call, altered his cell phone records to make it appear as though he did not make the call, and sent those altered records to the defendant's attorney. He also filed the altered records, along with a sworn declaration falsely claiming that they were accurate, with the court. The suspension is effective on April 11, 2023.

Mr. Wigginton, who was licensed in 1989, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed in its entirety by a three-year period of probation with conditions. Between 2017 and 2019, Mr. Wigginton was arrested three times for driving under the influence (DUI) in Madison County. In the first case, Mr. Wigginton pled guilty to DUI and received court supervision. The second and third cases were resolved as part of a plea agreement in which he pled guilty to the second DUI charge and was sentenced to 24 months' probation, 160 hours of community service, and a $2,800 fine in return for the dismissal of the third case.

Mr. Abbas, who was licensed in Illinois in 1991, was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court after he was convicted of two counts of wire fraud, two counts of unlawful monetary transactions, one count of money laundering, and one count of money laundering conspiracy. He was involved in a number of internet scams including “romance scams” in which he would use online dating profiles to have victims transfer money under false pretenses.

Ms. Lane, who was licensed in 2006, was suspended for nine months, with the suspension stayed after six months by a six-month term of probation with conditions. While she was engaged in litigation in a federal court, Ms. Lane sent three e-mails containing false or reckless statements about a magistrate judge's integrity to the judge, courtroom personnel and another attorney involved in the case. The suspension is effective on February 7, 2023.

Mr. Araujo, who was licensed in 1993, was disbarred for sexually harassing three women: a Chicago police officer, a court reporter and an Assistant State's Attorney, while he was acting as a Cook County Circuit Court Judge. The Illinois Courts Commission initiated a disciplinary matter against then-Judge Araujo based on this same misconduct and entered an oral ruling finding that he had committed the misconduct. Mr. Araujo, however, retired from the bench one month before the Courts Commission entered its written findings on the ruling, thereby preventing the Courts Commission from pursuing discipline against him.

Mr. Luchtenburg, who was licensed in 1983, was suspended for 30 days. He engaged in a conflict of interest by representing a client in a dissolution of marriage case while also pursuing a romantic relationship with her. He also made false or misleading statements in connection with the Administrator's investigation of his conduct. The suspension is effective on February 7, 2023.

Mr. Hall, who was licensed in 2019, was suspended for 60 days, with the suspension stayed after 30 days by a one-year period of probation with conditions. He recorded 277 hours in false time entries while working on a document review project for a large law firm. The suspension is effective on February 7, 2023.

Mr. Duebbert, a former circuit court judge in St. Clair County who was licensed in 1990, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. In 2016 and 2107, he made false statements to the police and to the Judicial Inquiry Board about his contacts with a friend of his who was the subject of a criminal investigation. He has been suspended on an interim basis since July 13, 2020. A suspension until further order of the Court is an indefinite suspension which requires the suspended lawyer to petition for reinstatement after the fixed period of suspension ends. Reinstatement is not automatic and must be allowed by the Supreme Court of Illinois following a hearing before the ARDC Hearing Board.

Ms. Yohanna, who was licensed in 2009, was suspended for six months. While working as an investigator for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability ("COPA") in Chicago, she repeatedly, and without authorization, accessed a private database of police records in violation of the terms of her employment. When an investigation ensued, she falsely reported that another COPA investigator, whom she wrongly suspected of having reported her misconduct, was planning on carrying out a mass shooting at the COPA office. The suspension is effective on December 14, 2022.

Mr. McIntyre, who was licensed in 1994, was suspended for 18 months and until further order of the Court. His misconduct arose from his December 2017 guilty plea to a charge of battery after he punched an employee of a tavern and his October 2018 guilty plea to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, his third conviction for driving while intoxicated. A suspension until further order of the Court is an indefinite suspension which requires the suspended lawyer to petition for reinstatement after the fixed period of suspension ends. Reinstatement is not automatic and must be allowed by the Supreme Court of Illinois following a hearing before the ARDC Hearing Board.

Ms. Biagi, who was licensed in 2014, was suspended from the practice of law for five months. In 2019, she was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and other offenses after she drove into a police patrol car. In 2021, she was convicted of theft after she altered a site development plan that had earlier been prepared for her by a licensed engineer and submitted the altered plan to a county development department. The suspension is effective on October 12, 2022.
 
Mr. Szymanski, who was licensed in 2013, was suspended from the practice of law for two years and until further order of the Court. In 2016, Mr. Szymanski was arrested and charged with aggravated domestic battery and domestic battery arising from an incident in which he pushed his spouse against a wall and placed his hands around her throat, causing a partial obstruction of her breathing. Mr. Szymanski later pled guilty to misdemeanor battery in connection with that incident. In 2018, Mr. Szymanski again was arrested for an incident in which he punched his spouse in the arm and attempted to punch her in the stomach, for which he was charged with two counts of resisting a peace officer and two counts of domestic battery. Those charges were later dismissed. A suspension until further order of the Court is an indefinite suspension which requires the suspended lawyer to petition for reinstatement after the fixed period of suspension ends. Reinstatement is not automatic and must be allowed by the Supreme Court of Illinois following a hearing before the ARDC Hearing Board.
 
Ms. Koroll, who was licensed in 2001, was suspended for six months, with the suspension stayed after 60 days in favor of a one-year period of conditional probation. Over a period of approximately three weeks in 2015, she sent dozens of emails, text messages, and other communications to attorneys in Florida with whom she was then engaged in a dispute. Many of those messages were vulgar, profane, abusive, included anti-Semitic remarks, and served no purpose other than to harass or burden their recipients. Also, in 2013, she was disqualified from representing a party in a post-decree domestic relations case because her former law partner had been representing the man's spouse while they were members of the same firm. The suspension is effective on October 14, 2021.
 
Mr. Pondenis, who was licensed in 2006, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. In electronic messages with a former client's girlfriend, he revealed information pertaining to his representation of that former client and made improper and abusive statements to the girlfriend. He also made improper and abusive statements to his landlord and the landlord's wife in electronic messages while representing himself in an eviction matter pertaining to his law office. A suspension until further order of the Court is an indefinite suspension which requires the suspended lawyer to petition for reinstatement after the fixed period of suspension ends. Reinstatement is not automatic and must be allowed by the Supreme Court of Illinois following a hearing before the ARDC Hearing Board.
 
Mr. Henneberry, who was licensed in 1981, was disbarred on consent. While serving as a court-appointed public defender for a client, he made sexually explicit comments to the client, touched the client without her consent, and masturbated in front of the client in his office during a meeting about her case. Additionally, he was criminally charged and pled guilty to providing alcohol to a minor.
 
Mr. O'Shea, a former circuit court judge who was licensed in 1979, was suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. In 2017 and 2018, Mr. O'Shea made false statements to the police and the Judicial Inquiry Board about the accidental discharge of a handgun in his apartment. A suspension until further order of the Court is an indefinite suspension which requires the suspended lawyer to petition for reinstatement after the fixed period of suspension ends. Reinstatement is not automatic and must be allowed by the Supreme Court of Illinois following a hearing before the ARDC Hearing Board.
 
(Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2023/03/from-summaries-of-recent-illinois-supreme-court-orders-mr-manges-who-was-licensed-in-2003-was-disbarred-for-forging-his-e.html

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