Filed October 30, 2013

In re Robert T. Hall
Respondent-Appellee

Commission No. 2011PR00136

Synopsis of Review Board Report and Recommendation
(October 2013)

The Administrator charged Respondent with misconduct arising out of Respondent's actions as an associate judge in Sangamon County in dismissing a traffic citation issued to the daughter of another judge by indicating on the court file that the State had filed a motion to dismiss the citation due to insufficient evidence when Respondent knew that that State had not done so.

The Hearing Board found that Respondent engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in violation of Rule 8.4(c) and in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010). The Hearing Board recommended that Respondent be suspended for a period of six months.

Before the Review Board, the Administrator challenged the Hearing Board's recommendation, arguing that a two year suspension was warranted. The Respondent disputed the findings that he violated Rules 8.4(c) and 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. In addition, the Respondent argued that the Hearing Board improperly limited his character testimony.

The Review Board concluded that the Hearing Board's findings that Respondent violated Rules 8.4(c) and 8.4(d) were not against the manifest weight of the evidence. The Review Board agreed with the Hearing Board's recommendation that Respondent be suspended for six months, noting that while Respondent engaged in a serious breach of his ethical responsibilities, he offered impressive evidence in mitigation.

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

In the Matter of:

ROBERT T. HALL,

Respondent-Appellee,

No. 3127983.

Commission No. 2011PR00136

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE REVIEW BOARD

The Administrator charged Respondent with misconduct arising out of Respondent's actions as an associate judge in Sangamon County in dismissing a traffic citation issued to the daughter of another judge by indicating on the court file that the State had filed a motion to dismiss the citation due to insufficient evidence when Respondent knew that that State had not done so. The Hearing Board found that Respondent engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in violation of Rule 8.4(c) and in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010). The Hearing Board recommended that Respondent be suspended for a period of six months.

Both parties have filed exceptions to the Hearing Board's Report and Recommendation. Respondent disputes the factual findings of the Hearing Board, contends that the Hearing Board improperly limited his character testimony and disputes the recommended sanction. The Administrator also disputes the recommended sanction of the Hearing Board.

The Hearing Board's Report and Recommendation provides a detailed statement of the factual findings in this case and we will not reiterate the facts here. The factual findings of

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the Hearing Board are entitled to deference upon review, and we will not disturb the findings unless they are against the manifest weight of the evidence. In re Timpone, 157 Ill.2d 178, 196, 623 N.E.2d 300 (1993). Findings are against the manifest weight of the evidence when they are arbitrary, unreasonable or not based upon the evidence, and the opposite conclusion is clearly apparent. Leonardi v. Loyola University, 168 Ill.2d 83, 106, 658 N.E.2d 450 (1995); In re Winthrop, 219 Ill. 2d 526, 542, 848 N.E.2d 961 (2006).

We have reviewed the Hearing Board's Report and Recommendation and we have carefully considered Respondent's arguments. We are not persuaded that Respondent's claims meet the necessary standard. Respondent contends that the Hearing Board's finding that he engaged in dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in violation of Rule 8.4(c) is against the manifest weight of the evidence because he lacked the intent to be dishonest, fraudulent or deceitful. The Hearing Board's finding as to Respondent's intent is subject to deference. In re Mulroe, 2011 IL 11378. Motive and intent are rarely susceptible to direct proof and must generally be inferred from the attorney's conduct and the surrounding circumstances. See, In re Stern, 124 Ill.2d 310, 315, 529 N.E.2d 562, 565 (1988). In this matter, the evidence at hearing supported the finding that Respondent acted with dishonest intent. Respondent did not make a mistake; he testified he knew the State had not filed a motion to dismiss and he had never discussed a dismissal with any Assistant State's Attorney. Nevertheless, he falsely and intentionally indicated on the court file that the State had filed a motion to dismiss. Even if Respondent thought it was possible that the State's Attorney would dismiss the ticket in the future, he knowingly falsely represented that a motion to dismiss had already been presented to the court.

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In addition, Respondent argues that he did not have dishonest intent, because if he had, he could have simply persuaded an Assistant State's Attorney to agree to a dismissal like the judge did in In re Buoscio, 01 CH 74, petition for discipline on consent allowed, No. M.R. 18452 (Jan. 23, 2003). However, the fact that Respondent could have chosen other means to improperly dismiss the Perrin ticket does not mean he lacked intent to be dishonest in his chosen method. Moreover, key here is that he did not seek to discuss the matter with the Assistant State's Attorney but instead wrongly indicated that the matter was being dismissed on the Motion of the State's Attorney, which it was not. Because Respondent's actions compromised the fairness and impartiality of the tribunal, Respondent also violated Rule 8.4(d) by engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Accordingly, for the reasons stated in the Hearing Board's Report, we affirm the Hearing Board's findings of fact. We also are not persuaded by Respondent's claim that the Hearing Board improperly limited his character testimony. The record does not support Respondent's claim.

We also see no reason to disturb the Hearing Board's recommended sanction. The Hearing Board's recommendation is consistent with precedent. In cases factually similar to this case, In re Buoscio, 01 CH 74, petition for discipline on consent allowed, No. M.R. 18452 (Jan. 23, 2003) and In re Sheridan, 01 CH 75, petition for discipline on consent allowed, No. M.R. 18453 (Jan. 23, 2003), the Court suspended two attorneys for one year who improperly, as judges, acted to dismiss a traffic citation. However, unlike in those cases, Respondent's misconduct did not involve encouraging another attorney to engage in misconduct.

We note that while Respondent engaged in a serious breach of his professional responsibilities, he offered substantial and impressive evidence in mitigation. Respondent has

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been involved in numerous charitable and volunteer activities. He is president of the executive committee for Mercy Communities, which provides housing and programs for homeless women and children. He has served on the boards of Helping Hands and SPARC, which provides services for mentally challenged individuals. He provides regular dinners to a family shelter. He is active in his church. He has been an active volunteer in his children's school. As a judge, he helped to start the first domestic violence court in Sangamon County and has lectured to various organizations. He called fourteen character witnesses, including one judge, who testified to his good reputation in the community.

Like the Hearing Board, we believe a six month suspension will serve the purposes of the disciplinary process - as Respondent breached the ethical standards applicable to him as a lawyer and a judge, and that breach compromised the fairness and impartiality of the tribunal. The Hearing Board's sanction recommendation also takes into account that the Board concluded in aggravation that Respondent did not fully understand the nature of his misconduct or demonstrate remorse for the impact his misconduct had upon the courts and the legal profession.

For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the findings of the Hearing Board and we recommend to the Court that Respondent, Robert T. Hall, be suspended for a period of six months.

Respectfully Submitted,

Johnny A. Fairman, II
Claire A. Manning
Benedict Schwarz, II

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 Report and Recommendation of the Review Board, approved by each Panel member, entered in the above entitled cause of record filed in my office on October 30, 2013.

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