Filed June 14, 2012

BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD
OF THE
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
AND
DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION

In the Matter of:

ELIZABETH JANE BARRINGER,

Attorney-Respondent,

No. 6291380.

Commission No. 2011PR00079

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE HEARING BOARD

INTRODUCTION

The hearing in this matter was held on December 2, 2011, at the offices of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, Springfield, Illinois before a Hearing Board Panel consisting of Paul C. Hendren, Chair, Janaki Nair and Pamela Hammond-McDavid. The Administrator was represented by Denise Church. The Respondent appeared and was represented by Donald E. Groshong.

PLEADINGS

On July 6, 2011, the Administrator filed a one-count Complaint against the Respondent. The Complaint alleged that, at various times in the years 2009 and 2010, the Respondent had communications, by way of e-mails, with Jennifer Teague, an arbitrator with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, without providing a copy of such e-mails to opposing counsel. At the time of the e-mails, the Respondent was representing respondent-employers in cases pending before Teague.

As to the ex parte e-mails the Respondent exchanged with Teague in 2009, the Complaint charged that the Respondent engaged in the following misconduct: (a) in an adversary

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proceeding, communicated or caused another to communicate, as to the merits of the cause with a judge or an officiate before whom the proceeding is pending, in violation of Rule 3.5(i) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990); (b) engaged in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990); and (c) engaged in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.

As to the ex parte e-mails the Respondent exchanged with Teague in 2010, the Complaint charged that the Respondent engaged in the following misconduct: (a) communicated ex parte with a judge or other official during a proceeding, in violation of Rule 3.5(b) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010); (b) engaged in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010); and (c) engaged in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.

In her Amended Answer, the Respondent admitted most of the factual allegations, with explanations, and denied all of the charges of misconduct.

THE EVIDENCE

The Administrator presented the testimony of the Respondent as an adverse witness and Chris Gore. The Administrator's Exhibits 1 through 6 were admitted into evidence. (Tr. 16, 18). The Respondent testified in her own behalf and presented the testimony of Nathan Lanter and Michael Holt. The Respondent's Exhibits 1 through 3 were admitted into evidence. (Tr. 59).

The Respondent

The Respondent testified that she received a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and then graduated from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan. She became

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licensed to practice law in Illinois on May 10, 2007. She is also licensed in the State of Missouri. She worked at the law firm of Hennessey and Roach from 2007 until February 2011. Most of her work involved the representation of employers in workers' compensation cases. She was discharged from Hennessey and Roach after various e-mails between her and Jennifer Teague, an arbitrator for the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, came to light. (Tr. 19-20, 129-30).

The Respondent became acquainted with Teague in 2007, and they became "good friends." The Respondent socialized with Teague regularly, about every two months. Usually, a group of people, including the Respondent and Teague, would meet for dinner or for happy hour. On one occasion, the Respondent and Teague went to a concert with a "big group of people." Teague attended the Respondent's wedding in October 2010. Additionally, the Respondent and Teague exchanged numerous personal e-mails (Tr. 20, 131, 136-37, 185; Adm. Ex. 1).

In February 2011, Teague contacted the Respondent, and told her that a newspaper was going to print a story about Teague's personal relationship with the Respondent and other attorneys who appeared before her on workers' compensation cases. Teague also informed her that the newspaper had obtained all of the e-mails exchanged between them. The Respondent then brought the foregoing information to the partners at Hennessey and Roach. On February 11, 2011, the Respondent was discharged from the law firm. She was then unemployed for seven months, and did not receive any unemployment compensation. About two months prior to the hearing on December 2, 2011, she began working as a senior claims adjustor with an insurance company. Her present salary is substantially less than her salary at the law firm. (Tr. 130-34).

The Respondent described the workers' compensation practice in Southern Illinois at the time she was handling such cases. There were three arbitrators, one of whom was Teague. The

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arbitrators decided contested matters. They also acted as mediators to move cases forward to trial or settlement. She said the docket calls were very informal. The arbitrator was informed of the facts of the case by the parties at the docket calls. A docket call was held each month. A case was considered to be above the "red line" if had been pending for more than three years. Red line cases had to be moved quickly to trial or settlement, or they could be dismissed. The Respondent appeared before Teague in workers' compensation cases on the dockets in Belleville and in Mt. Vernon. More than 75% of the Respondent's cases were in front of Teague. (Tr. 28, 134-36, 180, 191-92).

The Linda Brewer v. Walgreens Matter

The Brewer v. Walgreens case involved a workers' compensation claim. Teague was the arbitrator assigned to the case, attorney Nate Lanter represented Brewer, and the Respondent represented Walgreens, the employer. The Respondent explained that the Brewer case was unusual because it involved four injuries, two to Brewer's left knee and two to her ankle, and the injuries had different accident dates. Certain aspects of one of the claims regarding the knee was disputed. Brewer was treated at the same medical facility for all her injuries, but by different doctors. The treatment for the knee injuries was completed, but Brewer was still being treated for an ankle injury. The claims as to the knee injuries had reached the red line, which meant they needed to be resolved quickly, and Teague was pushing the knee claims to trial. Lanter wanted to resolve all the claims at the same time, and had sent a continuance letter to Teague. However, Teague denied the request. The Respondent said she did not have a problem with trying all of Brewer's claims at the same time. Lanter and the Respondent discussed having a conference call with Teague to discuss the matter. They wanted the conference call because Lanter would not be available at the upcoming docket call on the following Monday. The Respondent said that the

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purpose of her e-mails to Teague on February 11, 2009, "was to ask for a conference call to be set up to discuss these issues," and that Lanter "agreed [she] could do that." (Tr. 26-33, 141-43, 146).

The Respondent acknowledged that she exchanged the following six e-mails with Teague on February 11, 2009, and that Lanter was not sent a copy. (Tr. 143-48).

Respondent wrote to Teague that she and Lanter would like to schedule a conference call to discuss the Brewer case, because he will be unavailable for the upcoming docket call. She also told Teague that Brewer "has four claims (2 on the left knee and 2 on the left ankle)."

Teague replied that the conference could be held on Friday, but asked if it could wait until Tuesday.

Respondent replied that Friday morning works unless Teague prefers Tuesday. She also asked whether Teague was "expecting us to try or settle this next week."

Teague replied, saying "one case will be tried, both if you want. He needs to pick a trial day. Is this a N&E [nature and extent] case?"

Respondent replied "no, one of the two surgeries has been disputed on the knee claims along with the corresponding medical and TTD. Another issue are the bills themselves because she treated at the same facility for the knee and ankle so the bills have been merged together. That was something we wanted to talk to you about because we were hoping to try all claims together if she ever stops treating on her ankle."

Finally, Teague replied that they could do a conference call on Friday. She also said "I am not merging the cases. The knee case will be tried or I will have K's in hand next week. It will be someone's job to sort the bills out." Teague further said "even if we tried them together,

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I could say yes to knee and no to ankle and still have the same problem. The case will be tried. I am not generous with redline cases anymore." (Adm. Ex. 2 at 3-5).

The Respondent said she did not know why Lanter was not copied on the above e-mails (Tr. 31), but that it "wasn't an intentional oversight." (Tr. 31-32, 153-54). She also said that her e-mails to Teague were not sent in order to gain some advantage on the merits of the Brewer case. (Tr. 150-51). She explained that her e-mails did not discuss "the details of why I was disputing the claims or to what extent they were disputed," or the "merits" of the issues. (Tr. 30, 146-47, 151). She pointed out that Teague was already aware of Brewer's injury claims and that there was a dispute as to some of them. Teague had been informed of the foregoing matters by both counsel at previous docket calls. (Tr. 145).

Finally, the Respondent said she understood "how it could look to be inappropriate because Nate [Lanter] wasn't initially copied on [the e-mails]."(Tr. 30-31).

The Pro Se Claimant Matter

The Respondent explained that individuals acting pro se generally seek to reach a settlement with the employer's insurance company before an application for adjustment of claim is filed, and a case docketed, with the Workers' Compensation Commission. If a settlement is reached, the attorney for the insurance company prepares the contracts, which are presented to an arbitrator for review. If the arbitrator is satisfied that the settlement is fair, the arbitrator will approve the contracts. (Tr. 33-35, 154).

The Respondent admitted that she exchanged e-mails with Teague on September 1, 2010, regarding an unnamed pro se person who was seeking workers' compensation benefits, and that the unnamed person was not sent a copy of any of those e-mails. (Tr. 41-44, 159, 169-70). At that time, the unnamed person had not filed an application and her matter was not on the docket

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of the Workers' Compensation Commission. If the unnamed person had filed an application, it would have been on the Mt. Vernon docket and assigned to Teague. (Tr. 35, 135, 154, 167).

In her first pertinent e-mail to Teague on September 1, 2010, the Respondent wrote "[d]on't forget about my pro se from hell who will be dead last in the pro se line. She told me yesterday that she intends to ?fight with everyone' at the docket. I'm seriously about to say screw her and instruct the insurance company to close her file."

A little over an hour later, the Respondent sent another e-mail to Teague, stating "[c]razy pro se is a no go for Tuesday. She went off the hook this morning and is unwilling to be cooperative to a pre-trial. So her claim has been closed [until] she obtains an attorney." Teague replied "[a]ll you can hope now is that she doesn't get an atty and the statute runs. Stupid people kill me."

The Respondent then wrote to Teague "[n]o one is going to touch her case after what we offered her because there is no way they would be able to collect a fee. Plus she's insane." Teague replied "I agree, but these are hard lessons to learn."

The Respondent then wrote to Teague "[t]rue. I think she's bipolar because she just called back and now wants $1500 more to resolve her claim so hopefully I'll just have to get the contract approved. I should be a candidate for sainthood after dealing with her." Teague replied "[a]re you going to get the jack? It'd be nice to have it done."

The Respondent replied to Teague "[t]hey're giv[ing] me the money to get rid of her. Plus, she's going to sign a global release and resignation. Totally worth the money." Teague then asked in reply "[s]o what is that, 10K?" The Respondent replied "$14,900. Too much if you ask me but what it takes to get her to go away." Teague replied "WOW- way to freakin' much! I'd make her try that sucker." Finally, the Respondent wrote to Teague "[b]ut we also get a

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resignation out of it which makes it worth it to them. Don't worry she'll make comments about how cheaply we got off and bitch about something."

The Respondent said that she made the above comments about the unnamed person because the person was very difficult to deal with, and the Respondent was frustrated, and was "just venting." (Tr. 36-37, 42, 160, 162). The Respondent acknowledged that the unnamed person had not been diagnosed as bipolar, but the Respondent thought she had some kind of mental problems. (Tr. 41, 162). The Respondent also explained that she mentioned the above pro se claimant in the e-mails to Teague because "I had to let her know that I'd be bringing" to Teague, a person who "was threatening to pick fights with people at the dockets," and "to let Teague know that she needed to be handled with kid gloves." (Tr. 38, 190, 192). The Respondent also claimed, however, that she never told Teague the name of the pro se claimant. (Tr. 38, 156-58, 160-61). However, the Respondent acknowledged that Teague would know the identity of the pro se claimant at the time the claimant appeared in front of Teague with the settlement contracts. (Tr. 38, 192-93).

Ultimately, the case with the unnamed pro se person was settled, and Teague approved the settlement contracts. The Respondent said she thought the matter was settled for $15,000 or $16,000. (Tr. 35, 43-44, 154, 157, 159-60).

Finally, the Respondent said she did not intend to influence Teague "on how much to pay" the unnamed person, and that the above e-mails did not adversely affect that matter. (Tr. 167-69).

The White v. Xenia Matter

The Respondent admitted that she and Teague exchanged e-mails on August 8, 2010, in which the subject listed was the White v. Xenia workers' compensation case, without sending a

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copy to attorney David Jerome. (Tr. 44-46, 173). On that date, Jerome, who was representing White, sent an e-mail to Teague, the arbitrator in the case, and mentioned that "I am completely sunburned ? SPF 70 works until you remain in a wave pool with your daughters for 4 hours straight." Teague forwarded Jerome's e-mail to the Respondent, and wrote "in case you cared . . . about the sun burn anyway . . . and who doesn't reapply sunscreen?" The Respondent then sent two e-mails to Teague in which she wrote "idiot. I bet he looks like a lobster and will be walking stiff and awkward b/c it hurts to move;" "hell, he even threw in a kid comment;" and "he wants some attention from you." (Adm. Ex. 4 at 1-2).

The Respondent first pointed out that she was not representing any party, and was not otherwise involved, in the White v. Xenia case. (Tr. 144-45, 170). The Respondent also explained that her comments in the above e-mails were made in "jest," and that she did not mean to "hurt [Jerome's] feelings," "embarrass him," or "hold him up to ridicule and scorn." (Tr. 46, 172-73).

The Horn v. Walgreens Matter

The Respondent represented Walgreens and attorney Fritz Levenhagen represented Horn in this workers' compensation case. The case was tried before Teague in August 2009, but the parties had not received a decision by December 2009. (Tr. 46-47, 49, 179-80). On December 1, 2009, Levenhagen sent a letter to the Respondent, via e-mail, pertaining to a settlement in the Horn case. A copy of the letter was sent to Teague. (Adm. Ex. 5 at 2-3). Teague responded by e-mail to both Levenhagen and Respondent, stating that it was "improper" for Levenhagen to have sent her a copy of the letter. (Adm. Ex. 5 at 1-2). Levenhagen then sent an e-mail to Teague and Respondent, saying "I apologize" and "this will not happen again." (Adm. Ex. 5 at 1). Thereafter, Respondent sent an e-mail to Teague, without sending a copy to Levenhagen,

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saying "day late and a dollar short." (Adm. Ex. 5 at 1). Teague replied to Respondent, without sending a copy to Levenhagen, saying "ya think." (Tr. 47-50, 180-82; Adm. Ex. 5 at 1).

The Respondent explained that her comment "day late and a dollar short," in her e-mail to Teague, meant that she agreed with Teague that it was inappropriate for Levenhagen to have sent Teague a copy of the letter. (Tr. 48-49, 182). The Respondent acknowledged that she could have sent a copy of her e-mail, containing the foregoing language, to Levenhagen, but did not do so. (Tr. 49-50).

About one year later, on December 8, 2010, Levenhagen sent a letter to the Respondent pertaining to the Horn case. In his letter, Levenhagen said an associate in his office, Mike Knepper, reported that, while he was before Teague on the previous day, Teague made a comment about the Horn case. According to Knepper, Teague said "there was lying going on and Dr. Gornet's bills in Horn are still not paid." Levenhagen then asked Respondent whether she talked to Teague "yesterday in my absence." (Adm. Ex. 5 at 6-7). The Respondent forwarded, by e-mail, the forgoing letter to Teague, and sent a copy of her e-mail to Levenhagen. In her e-mail to Teague, Respondent said "I find the suggestion of improper conduct appalling and wanted to bring this to your attention." (Adm. Ex. 5 at 5). Teague sent a reply to Respondent, with a copy to Levenhagen, stating that this allegation of potential misconduct causes me great concern" and "I have not engaged in any ex parte communication with either party at anytime." (Tr. 51-52, 174-77; Adm. Ex. 5 at 6).

The Respondent testified that she and Knepper appeared at a docket, and "were having ongoing discussions regarding payments of the medical bills that had been awarded at trial. She further stated that Teague was not included in the discussions, and that she did not talk with

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Teague about the matter. (Tr. 50, 176-77). By December 2010, the Horn case had been tried, appealed to the Commission, and affirmed. (Tr.179).

The Stewart v. Addus Matter

The Respondent represented Addus Heathcare, the employer, and attorney Chris Gore represented Brenda Stewart in this workers' compensation case in front of Teague. Gore sent a letter of continuance to Teague, with a copy to Respondent. Gore incorrectly addressed the letter to Arbitrator Dibble. The first line of the letter requested a continuance and noted that the case was above the red line. The next sentence said "we're going to hearing on this matter." The Respondent described Gore's letter as "kind of confusing" by asking for a continuance and also indicating that the cases was "going to hearing." (Tr. 53-54).

After receiving Gore's Letter, Teague sent an e-mail to Respondent on September 1, 2010, asking her for Gore's e-mail address, and stating that Gore's "continuance letter . . . is not sufficient and is not granted. No good cause has been set forth in addition to the fact I am NOT Arbitrator Dibble." (Adm. Ex. 6 at 1; Resp. Ex. 3 at 2). The Respondent replied to Teague, stating, in part, "I don't know why a continuance letter was sent since we have agreed to try this claim Tuesday." (Adm. Ex. 6 at 2). Teague then replied to Respondent, "his letter is poorly written then. It says its set for hearing, but also that he wants a continuance. What a dumb ass." (Adm. Ex. 6 at 3). Finally, Respondent sent another e-mail to Teague, saying "oh, it was embarrassingly terrible." (Tr. 54-56, 183; Adm. Ex. 6 at 4).

The Respondent was asked the purpose of her saying "it was embarrassingly terrible" in response to Teague's "dumb ass" comment. She explained "I was trying to clarify the letter on his behalf so that [Teague] would know that it was set for trial ? in front of her, and I don't know why she was commenting on him the way that she did." (Tr. 55). Respondent also

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contended that she did not intend to disparage or prejudice Gore, or to "embarrass anyone." (Tr. 56, 183-85). She acknowledged that she did not inform Gore that Teague had called him a "dumb ass." Respondent further said she could see that her e-mails with Teague could appear to be inappropriate, and that "it could have been handled a lot better." (Tr. 56).

Nathan Lanter

Mr. Lanter testified that he is an attorney and a partner in the firm of Nelson & Nelson. In the workers' compensation case of Brewer v. Walgreens, which was assigned to Arbitrator Teague, Lanter represented Brewer and the Respondent represented Walgreens. (Tr. 61-62, 82).

On February 11, 2009, the Respondent exchanged e-mails with Teague, without sending a copy of the e-mails to Lanter. In her e-mails to Teague on that date, Respondent said that she and Lanter wanted to have conference call; pointed out that Brewer had four claims pertaining to injuries on her knee and ankle; and said she and Lanter hoped to try all the claims together. In response to Respondent's final e-mail to her on that date, Teague said they could have a conference call two days later, and that "I am not merging cases." (Resp. Ex. 1 at 1-2; Tr. 61, 64-65, 70-71).

Lanter said that, prior to the time the above e-mails were exchanged, he had agreed the Respondent could contact Teague and set up a conference call. The conference call was to be about the merging of Brewer's claims. (Tr. 77-78). He also said that the fact he was not copied on the above e-mails "doesn't bother" him. (Tr. 67). He explained that he and Respondent had previously informed Teague at docket calls of the issues in the Brewer case. For example, they informed Teague that Brewer had "injuries to both her ankle and knee;" the injuries "were proceeding under different workers' compensation [case] numbers;" there were "issues involving treatment," "where treatment was going," "whether or not the Respondent would pay for

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treatment; and "what was being done to resolve that conflict." (Tr. 67-70). Thus, Teague had a "certain amount of familiarity with this case" from Lanter and Respondent having appeared before her.

After the above e-mails were exchanged, a conference call was held. Lanter had the opportunity to present his argument in favor of merging the cases during the conference call. (Tr. 75, 81).

The Brewer case was tried before Teague in 2010, and it is presently pending on appeal in the circuit court. Lanter still represents Brewer, but the Respondent no longer represents Walgreens. (Tr. 82-84).

Chris Gore

Mr. Gore testified that he has been a licensed attorney in Illinois since 2000, and is a sole practitioner. About 10% to 20% of his practice involves workers' compensation cases. (Tr. 87).

He represented the claimant, Brenda Stewart, in the workers' compensation case of Stewart v. Addus. The Respondent represented Addus, and Teague was the arbitrator for that case. (Tr. 87, 101). Gore sent a continuance letter to Teague on August 23, 2010. (Resp. Ex. 3 at 2). Because of a clerical error, the letter was addressed to Arbitrator Dibble, rather than to Arbitrator Teague. (Tr. 88-89, 93). Gore said that he was not aware, at any time the Stewart v. Addus case was pending before Teague, that Teague and the Respondent had exchanged e-mails in which they discussed his continuance letter. Specifically, he was not aware that Teague stated to the Respondent that Gore's letter was "poorly written" and that Gore was a "dumb ass." Likewise, he was not aware that the Respondent replied to Teague that Gore's continuance letter was "embarrassingly terrible." (Tr. 89-90, 94, 102).

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Gore said that, if he had been aware of the above e-mails, "I would have felt less comfortable trying that case with Arbitrator Teague." (Tr. 103-104). When he later learned of the e-mails, his first reaction was "whether that puts into question my reputation." He also said it was "offensive" that he was not included in the exchange of e-mails between Teague and the Respondent, and it made him feel like "kind of an outsider." He further stated that, while "there is always a concern," he believes "most attorneys that I've dealt with that know me . . . think I am a good attorney and do a good job." (Tr. 91-92).

The disputed issues in the Brewer matter were tried before Teague. Thereafter, a settlement was reached. The settlement contracts were then presented to Teague, and she approved them. (Tr. 98, 100-102).

Michael Holt

Mr. Holt testified that he has been a partner at the law firm of Hennessey & Roach since May 2007. The Respondent was an associate at that firm, and Holt was in a supervisory capacity to her. He is aware that the Respondent was discharged by the firm when the matter of her exchange of e-mails with Arbitrator Teague came to light. (Tr. 106-108). He explained that "many of the partners were angry and disappointed after the e-mails came to light." (Tr. 110).

Holt said the Respondent has a reputation for being "an honest, hard-working, ethical attorney." He also said he found her to be a "very capable litigator" and an "excellent attorney." (Tr. 108-109).

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

In attorney disciplinary proceedings, the Administrator has the burden of proving the charges of misconduct by clear and convincing evidence. In re Thomas, 2012 IL 113035, par. 56; In re Winthrop, 219 Ill. 2d 526, 542, 848 N.E.2d 961 (2006). This standard requires a high level

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of certainty, greater than a preponderance of the evidence, but less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Bazydlo v. Volant, 164 Ill. 2d 207, 213, 647 N.E.2d 273 (1995); In re Barry, 09 SH 5, M.R. 24439 (Mar. 21, 2011) (Review Bd. at 6-7).

Additionally, an admission in a pleading is a formal judicial admission that is binding on the party making it, may not be contradicted, has the effect of withdrawing the fact admitted from issue, and dispenses with the need for any proof of that fact. Thus, when a respondent in a disciplinary matter admits in his or her answer some or all of the facts alleged in a complaint, it is unnecessary for the Administrator to present evidence to prove the facts so admitted. See In re Sue, 2010PR00167, M.R. 25148 (Mar. 19, 2012) (Hearing Bd. at 22); In re Hinterlong, 09 SH 46, M.R. 23811 (May 18, 2010) (Hearing Bd. at 9).

The evidence in this case showed, and the Respondent admitted, that at all times pertinent to this matter she was an associate with the law firm of Hennessy & Roach, and that Jennifer Teague was an arbitrator for the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. Most of the Respondent's practice involved the representation of employers in workers' compensation cases. More than 75% of the Respondent's workers' compensation cases were before Teague. The Respondent and Teague were also good friends, they socialized on a regular basis, and they exchanged numerous personal e-mails (Adm. Ex. 1).

The Brewer v. Walgreens Matter

Brewer v. Walgreens was a workers' compensation case pending before Teague in February 2009. Attorney Nate Lanter was representing Linda Brewer, and the Respondent was representing Walgreens.

On February 11, 2009, the Respondent and Teague exchanged e-mails pertaining to the Brewer v. Walgreens case. The e-mails were ex parte, in that Lanter was not included in the

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exchange nor provided with a copy of the e-mails. In her initial e-mail to Teague on that date, the Respondent said she (Respondent) and Lanter wanted to schedule a conference call with Teague on the following day, a Thursday, to discuss the case, because Lanter would not be unable to attend the upcoming docket call the following week. The Respondent's e-mail also stated that Brewer has "four claims (2 on the left knee and 2 on the left ankle)." Teague replied that a conference call could be held on Friday, but asked if it could wait until the next Tuesday. The Respondent replied that a conference call on Friday "works," and asked if Teague was expecting the case to be tried or settled next week. Teague replied that that one case will be tried, both if they want. She also asked if this was N&E [nature and extent] case. Respondent replied, in part, "no, one of the two surgeries has been disputed;" "another issue are the bills themselves because [Brewer was] treated at the same facility for the knee and ankle so the bills have been merged together;" and "something we wanted to talk to you about [is that] we were hoping to try all claims together." Teague replied that they could do a conference call on Friday and that "I am not merging the cases."

We do not find clear and convincing evidence that the above exchange of ex parte e-mails constituted misconduct as charged in the Complaint. Attorney Lanter testified that he agreed the Respondent could contact Teague in regard to the conference call. The information the Respondent provided to Teague in the e-mails was reasonably necessary to explain the request for the conference call. Also, both the Respondent and Lanter testified that the information the Respondent disclosed to Teague had already been disclosed to Teague at previous docket calls. Lanter further testified that he had no "problem" with the Respondent's exchange of e-mails with Teague. Thus, the subjects discussed in the e-mails between the

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Respondent and Teague were within the purview of what attorney Lanter had agreed the Respondent could communicate about with Teague.

We also note that the Rule 3.5(i) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (1990), which was applicable in 2009, prohibited a lawyer from communicating "as to the merits of the case" with a judge or an officiate before whom an adversary proceeding is pending. We agree with the Respondent that, in the above e-mails to Teague, she mentioned some of the "issues" in the Brewer v. Walgreens case, but did not discuss the "merits" of the case.

Consequently, as to the Brewer v. Walgreens matter, we are unable to find by clear and convincing evidence that, the Respondent improperly communicated with Teague in violation of Rule 3.5 (i) (1990) or engaged in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation Rule 8.4(a)(5), as charged in paragraphs 22 (a) and (b) of the Complaint.

The Pro Se Claimant Matter

On September 1, 2010, the Respondent and Teague exchanged e-mails pertaining to a certain unnamed person who was acting pro se while negotiating with her employer's insurance company. The unnamed person was not sent a copy of any of the e-mails. The Respondent represented the insurance company and was negotiating with the unnamed person. At the time of the e-mails, the unnamed person had not filed an application for adjustment of claim with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission and, thus, had no case on the Commission's docket. However, it was anticipated that the unnamed person's case would ultimately come before Teague at the Mt. Vernon docket, either for a trial or for approval of settlement contracts. In fact, the case did come before Teague, who approved the settlement contracts.

The Respondent's initial e-mail to Teague on September 1, 2010, stated "[d]on't forgot about my pro se from hell who will be dead last in the pro se line. She told me yesterday that she

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intends to ?fight with everyone' at the docket. I'm seriously about to say screw her and instruct the insurance company to close her file." About an hour later, the Respondent sent a second e-mail to Teague, stating "[c]razy pro se is a no go for Tuesday. She went off the hook this morning and is unwilling to be cooperative to a pre-trial. So her claim has been closed [until] she obtains an attorney." (Adm. Ex. 3 at 1, 10).

Teague replied to the Respondent, stating "[a]ll you can hope now is that she doesn't get an atty and the statute runs. Stupid people kill me." The Respondent replied "[n]o one is going to touch her case after what we offered her because there is no way they would be able to collect a fee. Plus she's insane." Teague wrote back "I agree, but these are hard lessons to learn." The Respondent then wrote to Teague "[t]rue. I think she's bipolar because she just called back and now wants $1500 more to resolve her claim so hopefully I'll just have to get the contract approved. I should be a candidate for sainthood after dealing with her." (Adm. Ex. 3 at 10, 14). Teague then wrote to the Respondent, and asked "[a]re you going to get the jack? It'd be nice to have it done." The Respondent replied "[t]hey're giv[ing] me the money to get rid of her. Plus, she's going to sign a global release and resignation. Totally worth the money." Teague then asked in reply "[s]o what is that, 10K?" The Respondent replied "$14,900. Too much if you ask me but what it takes to get her to go away." Teague replied "WOW- way too freakin' much! I'd make her try that sucker." (Adm. Ex. 3 at 28-28).

We find that the above, ex parte e-mails between the Respondent and Teague are clearly prejudicial to the administration of justice. The attorney for the employer's insurance company and the arbitrator, before whom the person acting pro se would appear for trial or approval of settlement contracts, made extremely derogatory comments about the person acting pro se, and cast that person in a highly negative light. The Respondent raised questions about the person's

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mental state by claiming she was "insane" and "bipolar." The Respondent also indicated that the person was unreasonable and looking for a fight. Teague referred to the person as "stupid," and voiced the hope that the person did not hire an attorney. Also, both the Respondent and Teague commented that the person was being offered more money than her case was worth "just to get rid of her." Thus, Teague heard about the matter, and the employee involved, from the attorney for the employer's insurance company, without the employee having been made aware of such communication. Such comments between the attorney for the employer and the arbitrator, without the knowledge of the employee, present the appearance of bias and favoritism toward the employer.

The Respondent explained that she mentioned the above pro se claimant in the e-mails to Teague because "I had to let her know that I'd be bringing," in front of Teague, a person who "was threatening to pick fights with people at the dockets," and "to let Teague know that she needed to be handled with kid gloves." (Tr. 38, 190, 192). The Respondent also claimed, however, that she never told Teague the name of the pro se claimant. (Tr. 38, 158). Of course, a warning to an arbitrator about a pro se claimant would serve no purpose if the arbitrator was unaware of the identity of such person. Nevertheless, in this case, the Respondent acknowledged that Teague would know the identity of the pro se claimant at the time the claimant appeared in front of Teague with the settlement contracts. (Tr. 38, 192-93).

The Supreme Court has made it clear that "if the administration of justice means anything, it means a fair and impartial tribunal," and anything that "compromises the fairness and impartiality of the tribunal . . . prejudices the administration of justice. In re Weinstein, 131 Ill. 2d 261, 269, 545 N.E.2d 725 (1989). See also, In re Lane, 127 Ill. 2d 90, 106, 535 N.E.2d

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866 (1989) ("the administration of justice requires a tribunal that is impartial in appearance, as well as in fact.")

In In re Powell, 126 Ill. 2d 15, 533 N.E.2d 831 (1989), the respondent assisted a judge in obtaining a loan by having a client post the collateral for the loan. The respondent appeared before the judge on a motion for the disbursement of funds, which was granted. The case was later settled. The respondent contended that his conduct was not prejudicial to the administration of justice because "his client deserved to win on the merits" of the foregoing motion. The Supreme Court rejected the respondent's argument, stating:

We refuse to read this phrase so narrowly. The administration of justice requires a fair and impartial tribunal. When a party or his attorney performs favors for a judge before whom the attorney or his client is likely to appear, the fairness and impartiality of the tribunal is compromised and the administration of justice is prejudiced.

Powell, 126 Ill. 2d at 27.

In In re Alexander, 146 Ill. 2d 83, 585 N.E.2d 70 (1991), the respondent made a loan to a judge, who was a long-time friend. While the loan was outstanding, the judge appointed the respondent guardian ad litem in a case. The respondent was found to have engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice even though there was "no evidence anyone was prejudiced by [respondent's] conduct." The Court stated that "it is the appearance of impropriety and the fact that the integrity of the judiciary is impugned as a result of respondent's conduct which gives rise to a violation," and "the fact no one was prejudiced is not dispositive." (146 Ill. 2d at 94-95).

In In re Cutright, 05 SH 106, the respondent prepared tax returns for a judge, without charging the judge for such work. When appearing before the judge, the respondent did not disclose the foregoing work to opposing counsel or litigants. There was no showing that any ruling by the judge was based on his relationship with the respondent. Nevertheless, the Hearing

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Board stated that the "appearance of impropriety is blatant in such a situation," and found that the respondent's conduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice. Cutright, 05 SH 106 (Hearing Bd. at 35). The Hearing Board's findings were affirmed by the Review Board and the Supreme Court. In re Cutright, 233 Ill. 2d, 474, 481-83, 910 N.E.2d 581 (2009).

In In re O'Sullivan, 2011PR00078, M.R. 24972 (Jan. 13, 2012), the respondent was representing a claimant in a workers' compensation case before Arbitrator Jennifer Teague. The Attorney General was representing the employer. The respondent exchanged ex parte e-mails with Teague. The respondent first informed Teague that the Attorney General was "contesting compensability," and Teague replied "seriously????????." The respondent then replied "I think so too," and explained what she thought the "defense appears to be." The Petition to Impose Discipline on Consent asserted that the respondent's misconduct included "engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice." (Petition at 3), The Supreme Court allowed the Petition.

Finally, in In re Greanias, 01 SH 117, M.R. 19079 (Jan. 20, 2004), the respondent filed lawsuits against Commissioners of the Industrial Commission and attorneys appearing before them, where there was no reasonable facts or evidentiary basis for the allegations in those lawsuits. By filing the lawsuits, the respondent was found to have engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. Greanias, 01 SH 117 (Hearing Bd. at 44-45, 57). The Hearing Board pointed out that "[b]y publicly charging fraud and corruption by the Commissioners of the Industrial Commission and attorneys who practice before that Commission, the Respondent acted to destroy public confidence in the Industrial Commission, the legal profession, and the administration of justice." Id. at 65-66. The Supreme Court approved the Hearing Board Report.

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Based upon the above, we find that the Respondent engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Rule 3.5(b), effective January 1, 2010, prohibits certain ex parte communications with a judge or other official "during the proceeding." When the above e-mails pertaining to the pro se claimant were exchanged between the Respondent and Teague, no workers' compensation case had been filed, and there was no "proceeding" pending before Teague. Thus, the evidence did not prove that the Respondent violated Rule 3.5(b).

The White v. Xenia Matter

On August 8, 2010, the Respondent and Teague exchanged e-mails referring to attorney David Jerome, without sending a copy of the e-mails to Jerome. The subject listed in the e-mails was the workers' compensation case of White v. Xenia. Teague was the arbitrator in that case, and Jerome represented White. However, the Respondent's uncontradicted testimony was that she did not represent any party in the White v. Xenia case.

Jerome sent an e-mail to Teague in which he stated he was "completely sunburned" and that "SPF70 works until you remain in a wave pool with your daughter for 4 hours straight." Teague forwarded Jerome's e-mail to the Respondent, and stated "in case you cared . . . and who doesn't re-apply sunscreen." The Respondent replied to Teague: "Idiot. I bet he looks like a lobster and will be walking stiff and awkward b/c it hurts to move;" and "I think he's going for the sympathy factor. Hell, he even threw in a kid comment." Teague replied "exactly." Finally, the Respondent wrote to Teague that "He wants some attention from you, don't you feel special." (Adm. Ex. 4 at 1-2).

As noted above, the Respondent was not involved in the White v. Xenia proceeding and, thus, was not communicating with an arbitrator in a case in which the Respondent represented a

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party. Also, the Respondent did not make comments about an opposing counsel. Additionally, the comments in the e-mails were an attempt at humor, and did not relate to Jerome's ability as an attorney or have anything to do with what Jerome did in the case of White v. Xenia.

Consequently, we do not believe the evidence established that the Respondent engaged in ethical misconduct, based upon the above e-mails, in violation of Rules 3.5(b) or 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).

The Horn v. Walgreens Matter

Horn v. Walgreens was a workers' compensation case before Arbitrator Teague. The Respondent represented Walgreens, and attorney Fritz Levenhagen represented Horn. The case was tried before Teague in August 2009, but the parties had not received a decision by December 2009. On December 1, 2009, Levenhagen sent a letter to the Respondent, via e-mail, pertaining to a possible settlement in the Horn case. A copy of the letter was sent to Teague. Teague responded by e-mail to both Levenhagen and Respondent, stating that it was "improper" for Levenhagen to have sent her a copy of the letter. Levenhagen then sent an e-mail to Teague and Respondent, saying "I apologize" and "this will not happen again." Thereafter, Respondent sent an e-mail to Teague, without sending a copy to Levenhagen, saying "day late and a dollar short." Teague replied to Respondent, also without sending a copy to Levenhagen, saying "ya think." (Adm. Ex. 5 at 1-3).

Rule 3.5(i) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (1990), which was applicable at the time of the above e-mails, prohibited a lawyer from communicating "as to the merits of the case" with a judge or an official before whom an adversary proceeding is pending.

It is clear that the above ex parte communications between the Respondent and Teague did not refer to the merits of the case. Thus, there was no violation of Rule 3.5(i).

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We also conclude that the brief comments in the above e-mails, that is "day late and a dollar short" with the response "ya think," were not significant enough to impugn the appearance of impartiality by the arbitrator or the fairness of the proceeding.

In December 2010, about one year after the above e-mails were sent, attorney Levenhagen sent a letter to the Respondent pertaining to the Horn case. In his letter, Levenhagen said an associate in his office, Mike Knepper, reported that, while he was appearing before Teague on the previous day, Teague made a comment about the Horn case. According to Knepper, Teague said "there was lying going on and Dr. Gornet's bills in Horn are still not paid." Levenhagen then asked the Respondent whether she talked to Teague "yesterday in my absence." (Adm. Ex. 5 at 6-7). On December 9, 2010, the Respondent forwarded Levenhagen's letter, by e-mail, to Teague, and sent a copy of her e-mail to Levenhagen. In her e-mail to Teague, the Respondent said "I find the suggestion of improper conduct appalling and wanted to bring this to your attention." Teague replied by e-mail to the Respondent, with a copy to Levenhagen, saying that this "allegation of potential misconduct causes me great concern" and "I have not engaged in any ex parte communication with either party at anytime." (Adm. Ex. 5 at 6-7).

Rule 3.5 (b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (2010), prohibits certain ex parte communications with a judge or other official "during the proceeding." However, the e-mails between the Respondent and Teague were not ex parte because attorney Levenhagan was sent a copy of each of them. Consequently, we find no violation of Rule 3.5(b). We also note that the trial had been completed, a decision had been issued by Teague, the decision had been appealed to the Commission, and the decision had been affirmed. Thus, there was no "proceeding" before Teague at that time.

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We also find that the nature of the comments in the e-mails did not reasonably compromise the fairness and impartiality of the arbitrator, or the appearance thereof. The e-mail of the Respondent and that of Teague simply voiced concern about, and denied, any improper ex parte communication. Thus, the evidence failed to show that the administration of justice was prejudiced by the e-mails.

The Stewart v. Addus Matter

The Respondent represented Addus Healthcare and attorney Chris Gore represented Brenda Stewart in a workers' compensation case before Arbitrator Teague.

Gore sent a letter of continuance to Teague, with a copy to Respondent. Gore incorrectly addressed the letter to Arbitrator Dibble. The letter requested a continuance, noted that the case was above the red line, and said "we're going to hearing on this matter." The Respondent described Gore's letter as "kind of confusing" by asking for a continuance and also indicating that the case was "going to hearing."

After receiving Gore's Letter, Teague sent an e-mail to Respondent on September 1, 2010, asking her for Gore's e-mail address, and stating that Gore's continuance letter "is not sufficient and is not granted. No good cause has been set forth in addition to the fact I am NOT Arbitrator Dibble." The Respondent replied to Teague, stating "I don't know why a continuance letter was sent since we have agreed to try this claim Tuesday." Teague then replied to Respondent, saying "his letter is poorly written then. It says it's set for hearing, but also that he wants a continuance. What a dumb ass." Finally, Respondent sent another e-mail to Teague, saying "oh, it was embarrassingly terrible." (Adm. Ex. 6 at 4-5).

Rule 3.5 (b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (2010), prohibits an attorney from communicating ex parte with a judge or other official "during the proceeding unless authorized

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to do so by law or court order." Clearly the above e-mails between the Respondent and Teague were ex parte and were exchanged while a workers' compensation proceeding was pending before Teague. Also, there was no authorization by law or court order for such communications. Consequently, the Respondent violated Rule 3.5(b).

In the September 1, 2010, e-mails, the Respondent and Teague made disparaging comments about opposing counsel, Mr. Gore, in the Stewart v. Addus case. It is clear to us that when an arbitrator and an attorney for one party, in a case pending before that arbitrator, make disparaging comments about the counsel for the other party in that case, it raises a serious question regarding the fairness of the proceeding. As the Supreme Court has stated, "the administration of justice requires a tribunal that is impartial in appearance, as well as in fact." Lane, 127 Ill. 2d at 106).

Attorney Gore, the target of the disparaging comments, said that if he had been aware of the above e-mails he "would have felt less comfortable trying that case with Arbitrator Teague." He also said it was "offensive" that he was not included in the exchange of e-mails between Teague and the Respondent, and it made him feel like "kind of an outsider." We found Mr. Gore's reaction to be understandable and reasonable in the circumstances. Such ex parte communications erode public confidence in workers' compensation proceedings and were prejudicial to the administration of justice. (See cases cited above in the The Pro Se Claimant Matter).

Finally, one of the charges of misconduct was that the Respondent engaged in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770. (Complaint, pars.22c and 23c). In the recent opinion of In re Thomas, 2012 IL 113035, par. 92, the Supreme Court stated:

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Supreme Court Rule 770 is not itself a Rule of Professional Conduct. Rather, it is contained in article VII, part B, of our rules, which governs "Registration and Discipline of Attorneys." Rule 770 is titled "Types of Discipline" and provides that "[c]onduct of attorneys which violates the Rules of Professional Conduct contained in Article VIII of these rules or which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute shall be grounds for discipline by the court." Ill. S. Ct. Rule 770 (eff. Apr. 1, 2004). The rule then lists eight levels of discipline ranging from disbarment to reprimand. Thus, one does not "violate" Rule 770. Rather, one becomes subject to discipline pursuant to Rule 770 upon proof of certain misconduct. We conclude that based on his violations of Rules 5.5(a), 8.4(a)(4), and 8.4(a)(5), respondent is subject to discipline by this court pursuant to Rule 770.

Thus, based upon the holding in Thomas, we conclude that the Respondent did not "violate" Rule 770 as charged in the Complaint.

In summary, we find that the Administrator proved by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent committed the following misconduct: (1) engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (1990), by reason of her conduct in the pro se claimant matter, paragraphs 8 through 13 of the Complaint; (2) communicated ex parte with an official during a proceeding, in violation of Rule 3.5 (b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (2010), by reason of her conduct in the Stewart v. Addus matter, paragraphs 20 and 21 of the Complaint; and (3) engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (2010), by reason of her conduct in the Stewart v. Addus matter, paragraphs 20 and 21 of the Complaint.

RECOMMENDATION

The purpose of the attorney disciplinary system is not to punish the attorney for his or her misconduct, but "to protect the public, maintain the integrity of the legal profession, and protect the administration of justice from reproach." In re Winthrop, 219 Ill. 2d 526, 559, 848 N.E.2d 961(2006). In determining the appropriate sanction, we must consider the nature and seriousness

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of the misconduct charged and proved, and any aggravating and mitigating circumstances shown by the evidence. In re Gorecki, 208 Ill. 2d 350, 360-61, 802 N.E.2d 1194 (2003). In addition, we may consider the deterrent value of the sanction, the "need to impress upon others the seriousness of the misconduct at issue," and whether the sanction will "help preserve public confidence in the legal profession." In re Twohey, 191 Ill. 2d 75, 85, 727 N.E.2d 1028 (2000); Gorecki, 208 Ill. 2d at 361. Although each disciplinary case "is unique and must be resolved in light of its own facts and circumstances," the sanction imposed should be "consistent with those imposed in other cases involving comparable misconduct." In re Howard, 188 Ill. 2d 423, 440, 721 N.E.2d 1126 (1999); In re Chandler, 161 Ill. 2d 459, 472, 641 N.E.2d 473 (1994).

In this case, the Administrator requested a sanction of a suspension for at least 30 days. (Tr. 210). The Respondent argued that no sanction should be imposed. (Tr. 220).

The Respondent's misconduct was serious. The Respondent's exchange of e-mails, on an ex parte basis, with Workers' Compensation Commission Arbitrator Jennifer Teague, was prejudicial to the administration of justice in two workers' compensation matters. Certainly, the bedrock of any legal proceeding or system of justice is a fair and impartial presiding official, either a judicial or administrative official. The ex parte communications between the Respondent and Teague made it appear that Teague was not fair and impartial. In such a situation, public confidence in the Workers Compensation Commission is jeopardized, if not destroyed. See In re Alexander, 146 Ill. 2d 83, 94-96, 585 N.E.2d 70 (1991); In re Lane, 127 Ill. 2d 90, 106, 535 N.E.2d 866 (1989) In re Greanias, 01 SH 117, M.R. 19079 (Jan. 20, 2004) (Hearing Bd. at 65-66); In re Stevenson, 90 CH 551(Feb. 4, 1991) (Hearing Bd. at 6).

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In aggravation, the Respondent did not show any recognition or understanding of her misconduct. Likewise, she showed no remorse. In In re Mason, 122 Ill. 2d 163, 173-74, 522 N.E.2d 1233 (1988), the Court stated:

An attorney's failure to recognize the wrongfulness of his conduct often necessitates a greater degree of discipline than is otherwise necessary, in order that the attorney will come to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct and not again victimize members of the public with such misconduct.

See also In re Lewis, 138 Ill. 2d 310, 348, 562, N.E.2d 198 (1990) (lack of remorse is an aggravating factor).

There is also mitigation in this case. The Respondent has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since May 2007, and has no prior discipline. Also, she was fully cooperative with the ARDC throughout her disciplinary proceedings. We also considered the Respondent's lack of experience as an attorney and her misguided friendship with Arbitrator Teague as factors that contributed to her lapses in sound judgment in regard to the ex parte e-mails. See In re Armentrout, 99 Ill. 2d 242, 254, 457 N.E.2d 1262 (1983). Further, a partner in the law firm where Respondent's was previously employed testified that she has a favorable reputation for being an honest and ethical attorney.

While recognizing that each disciplinary case is unique, with different facts and circumstances, we found the following cases instructive as to the appropriate sanction in the matter before us.

In In re O'Sullivan, 2011PR00078, M.R. 24972 (Jan. 13, 2012), the Supreme Court allowed a Petition to Impose Discipline on Consent, and imposed a censure. The respondent's misconduct arose out of her exchange of ex parte e-mails with Arbitrator Jennifer Teague. The e-mails pertained to the merits of a workers' compensation case pending before Teague, in which the respondent represented the claimant. In the e-mails, the respondent informed Teague that the

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Attorney General, who was representing the employer, was contesting compensability. Teague replied "seriously" and "I cannot believe they are bringing this on themselves." Respondent then replied "I think so too," and went on to explain what the "defense appears to be." In mitigation, the respondent was licensed to practice in Illinois in 1999 and had no prior discipline; five character witnesses were prepared to testify as to her good reputation for honesty and integrity; she fully cooperated; and she expressed regret for her misconduct. (Petition to Impose Discipline on Consent at 2-4).

In In re Stevenson, 90 CH 351 (Feb. 4, 1991), a reprimand was imposed by the Hearing Board. While representing a party before the Industrial Commission, the respondent had an ex parte conversation with the commissioner assigned to the case, in regard to a continuance requested by the respondent. Subsequently, the respondent wrote a letter, in which he said the commissioner "is a long-time member of my workers' compensation committee at the Illinois Manufacturer's Association and a good friend." The respondent acknowledged that his letter implied that he was "able to influence improperly a tribunal or public official." There was "no evidence that [respondent's] conduct improperly influenced the Commission's decision in the workers' compensation matter." The respondent had no prior discipline during his 40 years of practicing law.

In In re Cosgrove, 01 CH 76, M.R. 19629 (Sept. 27, 2004), cited by the Administrator, a censure was also imposed. The respondent was an assistant state's attorney assigned to a courtroom that had a call of about 200 misdemeanor and traffic cases each day. Prior to a call, the judge presiding told respondent that a judge friend had called about a certain case on the call, the Cress overweight truck matter, and asked respondent to "look at the case and see what he could do, SOL it or whatever." When the Cress case was called, the respondent stated, falsely, "I

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don't think I'm going to be able to meet my burden of proof in this matter, Motion State SOL." The judge granted the motion. In mitigation, the respondent had a "limited opportunity to reflect on the proper course of conduct and determine how to respond" to the judge; the misconduct was an isolated act; he had no prior discipline; he acknowledged his misconduct and expressed remorse; and his misconduct "already had a significant adverse impact upon him." Cosgrove, 01 CH 76 (Review Bd. at 13-14).

After considering the above cases, the nature of the Respondent's misconduct, the aggravation and mitigation, and the purpose of a disciplinary sanction, we conclude that a censure is appropriate in this matter. However, as mentioned above, the Respondent did not recognize or understand her misconduct. Thus, we believe it is necessary that the Respondent attend a professionalism seminar. In both In re Payne, 2009PR00122, M.R. 24544 (May 18, 2011) and In re Reu, 09 SH 44, M.R. 23657 (Mar. 16, 2010), for example, a censure was imposed, coupled with the requirement that the respondent successfully complete a professionalism course within one year.

Therefore, we recommend that the Respondent, Elizabeth Jane Barringer, be censured and be required to successfully complete the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Professionalism Seminar within one (1) year of the entry of the Supreme Court's final order of discipline.

Date Entered: June 14, 2012

Paul C. Hendren, Chair, Janaki Nair and Pamela Hammond-McDavid, Hearing Panel Members.