Statement of Charges Allowed by the Illinois Supreme Court
and Imposing Discipline on Consent
Allowed September 22, 2017
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
In the Matter of:
Supreme Court No. M.R.28934
Commission No. 2016PR00100
STATEMENT OF CHARGES PURSUANT
TO SUPREME COURT RULE 762(a)
Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Christopher Heredia, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(a), states that on the date Dennis Hugh Sherman (hereinafter "Movant") filed a motion requesting that his name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys, a five-count complaint was pending against Movant before the Hearing Board charging him with conversion of over $5,587.16 in client funds from four separate clientsí criminal matters, and failure to maintain complete records for his client trust account, and the Administrator was investigating additional allegations that Movant had converted $565.54 in client funds from another clientís criminal matter. Had Movantís conduct been the subject of a hearing, the Administrator would have introduced the evidence described below, and that evidence would have clearly and convincingly established the following conclusions of misconduct:
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Movantís admissions, testimony from Movantís former clients and other witnesses, and records from Movantís client trust account would have established the following:
A. Conduct alleged in the pending Hearing Board complaint
1. Conversion of $5,587.16 in relation to Clevon Dorsey, Vernal Moore, Michael Daniels, and Robert Parrish
Between 2011 and 2015, Movant represented four clients, Clevon Dorsey ("Dorsey"), Vernal Moore ("Moore"), Michael Daniels ("Daniels"), and Robert Parrish ("Parrish") in the defense of their respective criminal charges in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Movant and Dorsey agreed that Movantís fee would be $2,500, all of which would be paid from the proceeds of an anticipated bond refund. Movant and Moore agreed that Movantís fee would be $1,500, $850 of which would be paid from the proceeds of any bond refund from Mooreís criminal matter. Movant and Daniels agreed that Movantís fee would be $750, all of which would be paid from the proceeds of any bond refund from Danielsí criminal matter. Movant and Parrish agreed that Movantís fee would be $1,350, all of which would be paid from the proceeds of any bond refund from Parrishís criminal matter.
Between December 2014 and April 2015, Movant received and deposited into his client trust account four checks that Movant received from the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook Countyin connection with his representation of Dorsey, Moore, Daniels, and Parrish. Those four checks were drawn for the following amounts: $11,250 in connection with Dorseyís case; $2,700 from Mooreís case; $2,250 from Daniels matter; and $2,700 relating to Parrish, for a total of $18,900. Those four checks represented the proceeds of each clientís respective bond refund. Pursuant to Movantís fee agreements with his various clients, Movant was required to remit $8,750 to Dorsey, $1,850 to Moore, $1,500 to Daniels, and $1,350 to Parrish with those amounts representing the difference between the amount Movant received and the amount of his fee from each case. On April 6, 2015, Movant disbursed $7,000 to Akira Marshall ("Marshall"), the family member of Dorseyís family that Movantís client had authorized to receive his portion of the bond refund proceeds, leaving $1,750 as the remaining proceeds required to be remitted to Dorsey or his family members.
As of April 6, 2015, prior to any disbursement to Parrish or his family members, the balance of Movantís client trust account was $434.46. As of April 15, 2015, prior to disbursing any remaining amount to Dorsey or his family members, or any amount to Moore or his family members, the balance in Movantís client trust account was $9.46. As of April 20, 2015, prior to any disbursement to Daniels or his family members, the balance in Movantís client trust account was $409.46.
Movant drew the balance in his client trust account below the amounts he owed these clients by writing checks and making other withdrawals, thereby knowingly using, without authority, a total of $5,587.16 of the proceeds of the four clientsí bond refunds for his own business or personal expenses, including checks to cover overdrafts in both his personal and business operating accounts. Movant also used the bond refund proceeds of one client to remit funds owed to other clients, including Parrish, Moore, and Daniels, whose bond refund proceeds Movant used to remit amounts he owed for bond refund proceeds of Dorsey, Parrish, and Moore, respectively.
2. Failure to maintain complete records for client trust account
At no time between November 2014 and June 2015 did Movant prepare and maintain complete records, including receipt and disbursement journals, contemporaneous client ledgers, or quarterly reconciliation reports, of his client trust account.
B. Conduct that is the subject of pending investigations
Between 2013 and 2016, Movant represented Earl Thurmon ("Thurmon") in the defense of criminal charges in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Movant and Thurmon agreed that Movantís fee would be $750, all of which would be paid from the proceeds of any bond refund from the case. In September 2015, Movant received a check for $2,250 from the Circuit Court of
Cook County, which represented the proceeds of Thurmonís bond refund, and deposited the check into his client trust account. Pursuant to Movantís agreement with Thurmon, Movant was required to remit $1,500 to Thurmon or his family members, and was only entitled to $750 as his fee. In June 2016, after remitting only $900 to Gloria Nelson ("Nelson"), Thurmonís family member entitled to that portion of the proceeds, Movant drew the balance in his client trust account to $34.36, by writing checks and making other withdrawals, thereby knowingly using, without authority, $565.54 of the proceeds of Thurmonís bond refund for his own business or personal expenses.
C. Procedural Considerations
On July 11, 2017, the day this matter was scheduled for a hearing, Movantís counsel advised the Hearing Board that despite the disciplinary recommendation sought by the Administrator (Movantís suspension from the practice of law for a period of six months and until further order of the Court), Movant would prefer to file a motion to strike his name from the Roll of Attorneys admitted to practice law in Illinois. Based on this representation, and over the Administratorís objection, the Hearing Board granted Movantís oral motion to continue the July 11, 2017 hearing, and ordered Movant to file any motion to strike his name from the Roll of Attorneys with the Court on or before August 7, 2017.
II. CONCLUSIONS OF MISCONDUCT
D. By reason of the conduct described above, Movant has engaged in the following misconduct:
failing to hold property of a client or third person in Movantís possession in connection with a representation, separate from Movantís own property, by conduct including converting the remainder of the bond refunds of Dorsey, Moore, Daniels, Parrish, and Thurmon, by causing the balance in Movantís client trust account to fall below the amount then belonging to Dorsey, Moore, Daniels, Parrish, and Thurmon, or their family members, in violation of Rule 1.15(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010);
failing to prepare and maintain complete records of his client trust account in violation of Rule 1.15(a)(1) through 1.15(a)(7) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010); and
conduct involving dishonest, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, by conduct including knowingly converting bond refunds of clients to Movantís own use, without authorization, in violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).