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

In the Matter of:

JOHN A. GOUDGE,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No. 1024426.

 

Commission No. 2012PR00085

 

JOINT STIPULATION OF FACTS

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorneys, Wendy Muchman and Eunbin Rii, and Respondent, John A. Goudge, by his attorney, Cheryl Niro, stipulate that the following facts could be proven by clear and convincing evidence at hearing:

1.    In 2010, Respondent, an associate attorney at the law firm of Greene and Letts in Chicago, Illinois, was the attorney responsible for all cases stemming from a contract the law firm had with the United States Department of Justice to represent the United States in debt collection cases involving student loans.

2.    In July and August 2011, at Respondent's direction, one of Respondent's several non-lawyer assistants prepared complaints and corresponding exhibits alleging that defendants were indebted to the United States for failure to pay student loans.

3.    At Respondent's direction, one of Respondent's several non-lawyer assistants logged on to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ("N.D. Ill.") Case Management/Electronic Case File ("CM/ECF") system to file the complaints and exhibits.

4.    When logging on to the CM/ECF system, one of Respondent's several non-lawyer assistants, was required to check a box that declared that the filings were in compliance with

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Rule 5.2(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Rule 5.2(a)"), which required that personal identifying information be redacted from all filings.

5.    The exhibits that Respondent attached to the complaints were loan documents that contained the defendants' personal identifying information, such as social security number, date of birth, and account numbers. In numerous complaints and exhibits, defendants' personal identifying information was not redacted, which cause the defendants' personal identifying information to be available to the public and viewable on the N.D. Ill. website home page.

6.    In late August 2011, defendant Aimee Krause ("Krause") notified the Clerk of the N.D. Ill. and Respondent that her personal identifying information was available to the public and viewable on the N.D. Ill. website home page.

7.    Also, Krause notified Respondent that other defendants' named in complaints filed by Respondent's had their personal identifying information in exhibits not redacted, and thus available and viewable on the N.D. Ill. website home page. The Clerk of the N.D. Ill. also notified Respondent of other defendants with personal identifying information not redacted in the exhibits.

8.    After Respondent was made aware that defendants' personal identifying information was not redacted, Respondent or his non-lawyer assistants at Respondent's direction, filed motions to correct and replace exhibits. However, Respondent did not provide appropriate supervision to his non-lawyer assistants to ensure that Respondent's subsequent filings were redacted as required to comply with Rule 5.2(a).

9.    By reason of the conduct outline above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. failing to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the conduct of a nonlawyer retained by or associated with the lawyer is compatible

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with the professional obligations of the lawyer in violation of Rule 5.3(b) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010);

      1. failing to avoid, mitigate, or take reasonable remedial action regarding the nonlawyer's conduct in violation of Rule 5.3(c)(2) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010);

      2. 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

      3. conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.

Facts relating to mitigation:

10.    Respondent was licensed to practice law in Illinois on October 29, 1977, and has not previously been disciplined. Respondent has cooperated during the investigation and formal disciplinary proceedings in this matter and expressed remorse for his conduct.

Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:  Eunbin Rii
 

Eunbin Rii
Wendy Muchman
Counsel for Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Telephone: (312) 565-2600

 

John A. Goudge, Respondent



By: Cheryl Niro
 

Counsel for Respondent
RobinsonNiro LLC
333 West Wacker Drive, Suite 450
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Telelphone: (312) 676-9874

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

In the Matter of:

JOHN A. GOUDGE,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No. 1024426.

 

Commission No. 2012PR00085

 

REPRIMAND

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by the Hearing Board members whose names are affixed hereto, administer this reprimand to John A. Goudge:

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

1.    Respondent, John A. Goudge, was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1977, and has not previously been disciplined.

2.    On July 30, 2012, the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission filed a complaint against Respondent, charging him with failure to supervise his non-lawyer assistants.

3.    The Administrator and Respondent have entered into a stipulation concerning the facts of this case. The Panel adopts the stipulation, and a copy of the stipulation is attached to this reprimand.

4.    The Panel agrees with the Administrator and with Respondent that, based upon the uncontested facts described in the stipulation, a reprimand is the appropriate discipline herein.

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5.    The Panel has considered mitigating factors such as Respondent's lack of prior discipline, his cooperation during the pendency of the formal disciplinary proceedings, and his expression of remorse regarding his conduct.

6.    The purpose of disciplinary proceedings is to determine whether professional misconduct occurred and what sanction should be imposed. Sanctions are imposed not to punish the attorney, but to protect the public, maintain the integrity and reputation of the Bar, protect courts and the administration of justice from reproach, and deter that respondent herein and other attorneys from misconduct. See, e.g., In re Levin, 101 Ill.2d 535, 463 N.E.2d 715 (1984); In re Lamberis, 93 Ill.2d 222, 443 N.E.2d 549 (1982).

7.    In view of the matters set forth above, the panel has determined that the appropriate sanction in the instant case is a reprimand.

8.    The result in this matter is consistent with the outcome in other cases involving comparable misconduct, In re Gill and Marks, M.R. 10783, 94 CH 837 and 94 CH 838 (March 27, 1995) (censure), and In re Clark, 04 CH 28 (Dec. 3, 2004) (reprimand by the Hearing Board).

REPRIMAND

To: John A. Goudge

1.    You are being reprimanded for engaging in conduct, in which you did not adequately supervise non-lawyer assistants in redacting personal identifying information, causing defendants' personal identifying information to be available and viewable to the public on the N.D. Ill. website home page. After being notified and informed of the redaction problems, you did not take steps to adequately supervise your non-lawyer assistants or review their work. By failing to adequately supervise your non-lawyer assistants' work, the defendants' personal identifying information was not redacted and continued to be available and viewable through the

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CM/ECF system. Had you adequately supervised your non-lawyer assistants, these disciplinary proceedings might have been avoided.

2.    Your conduct undermines the public's confidence in the legal profession. Attorneys have an obligation to avoid all conduct that could bring the legal profession into disrepute.

3.    Your conduct as described in this reprimand and in the stipulation was improper. You have violated Rules 5.3(b), 5.3(c)(2), and 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, and engaged in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute. You are therefore reprimanded not to repeat the conduct which has resulted in the imposition of discipline.

4.    You are further advised that while this reprimand is not formally presented to the Illinois Supreme Court, it is not to be taken lightly. This reprimand is a matter of public record and is on file with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and may be admitted into evidence in subsequent disciplinary proceedings against you.

WHEREFORE, John A. Goudge, you are hereby reprimanded. You are admonished not to engage in such misconduct and the future and to strictly comply with the rules of professional conduct. You are further admonished that this disciplinary action is a public record and will be considered in the event of any future disciplinary proceedings relating to you.

Respectfully submitted,

Joseph A. Bartholomew
Heather A. McPherson
Eddie Sanders, Jr.

CERTIFICATION

    I, Kenneth G. Jablonski, Clerk of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois and keeper of the records, hereby certifies that the foregoing is a true copy of the Reprimand, approved by the Hearing Panel, entered in the above entitled cause of record filed in my office on January 29, 2013.

Kenneth G. Jablonski, Clerk of the
Attorney Registration and Disciplinary
Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois