Filed December 13, 2013
In re Lanre O. Amu
Commission No. 2011PR00106
Synopsis of Review Board Report and Recommendation
This matter arises out of the Administrator's four count Complaint. The Administrator charged Respondent with misconduct arising out of statements he made in court pleadings and correspondence attacking the integrity and fairness of four judges in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Respondent denied engaging in any misconduct and contended that his statements regarding the judges were true.
After a hearing, the Hearing Board found that Respondent engaged in most of the misconduct alleged by the Administrator and recommended that Respondent be suspended for three years and until further order of the Court. Following the filing of the Hearing Board's Report and Recommendation, the Court suspended Respondent until further order pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 774.
Upon review, Respondent continued to contend that his statements about the judges were true. He argued that his statements were protected under the First Amendment, that he was denied due process and that he was a victim of discrimination.
With the exception of the findings that Respondent violated Rules 8.4(a)(5)(1990) or 8.4(d)(2010), the Review Board affirmed the findings of misconduct of the Hearing Board. The Review Board concluded that Respondent's statements about the judges did not fall within the boundaries of protected speech. Because of his failure to comprehend the harm caused by his conduct, the Review Board agreed that Respondent's continued practice of law posed a risk to his clients, to the profession, and to the court system. The Review Board also recommended that Respondent be suspended from the practice of law for three years and until further order of the Court.
BEFORE THE REVIEW BOARD
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
In the Matter of:
LANRE O. AMU,
Commission No. 2011PR00106
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE REVIEW BOARD
This matter arises out of the Administrator's four count Complaint that charged Respondent with misconduct arising out of statements he made in court pleadings and correspondence attacking the integrity and fairness of four judges in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Hearing Board found that Respondent engaged in most of the misconduct alleged by the Administrator and recommended that Respondent be suspended for three years and until further order of the Court. Upon review, Respondent challenges the Hearing Board's findings and recommendation. While Respondent acknowledges he made the statements in question, he continues to assert that the statements were true and therefore not violative of the Rules. He also argues that his statements are protected speech under the First Amendment, that he was denied due process because no judges testified that his statements were false, and that he is the victim of racial discrimination.
In August 2013, the Court issued an order pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 774 suspending Respondent until further order of the Court pending the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding.
For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the findings of fact of the Hearing Board. With the exception of the findings that Respondent violated Rules 8.4(a)(5)(1990) or 8.4(d)(2010), we affirm the findings of misconduct of the Hearing Board. We recommend to the Court that Respondent be suspended for three years and until further order of the Court.
HEARING BOARD FINDINGS
The Hearing Board Report and Recommendation sets out the facts in greater detail and we will not repeat the complete summation of the facts here. In summary, the Hearing Board concluded Respondent made various statements about the qualifications and integrity of four judges. He admitted he made the statements. He also admitted that he made the statements after receiving adverse rulings from the judges. None of the judges testified; the Attorney General's Office moved to quash the subpoenas issued upon the judges on the grounds that the judges could not testify about their judicial decisions and the Illinois Supreme Court quashed the subpoenas.
As set forth below, Respondent's conduct as outlined in the Administrator's Complaint began in 2004 and continued until the date of his disciplinary hearing, where he repeated many of the accusations against the judiciary.
Respondent's Statements Regarding Judge Dolan
Respondent represented plaintiff Muda Jaji in a lawsuit against Exedus Lounge and its employees and owners. The Honorable Francis J. Dolan was assigned to hear the case and supervise discovery. From 2002 until August 2004, the parties engaged in discovery. Some time prior to August 2004, Respondent filed a motion to reopen discovery. Counsel for the defendants objected and asked that the plaintiff's witnesses be barred on the grounds that they had not been previously disclosed. On August 27, 2004, Judge Dolan granted the defendants'
motion and barred the witnesses. Respondent felt the judge's decision was unfair. On September 21, 2004, Respondent filed a motion to substitute Judge Dolan for cause, and attached an affidavit to the motion. In the motion and affidavit, Respondent called Judge Dolan a "very sophisticated scam artist judge", an "unfair and biased judge", and a "henchman for the defendant insurance company." Respondent stated that Judge Dolan "had an unwritten relationship with the defendant insurance company', "placed himself above the law in his courtroom", "had no regard for honesty in briefing before him" and was ?blinded by prejudice." Respondent also stated that the defendant insurance company "had Judge Dolan in their corner doing their bidding".
Judge Dolan later reversed his ruling and allowed three of the plaintiff's witnesses to testify. Respondent testified this ruling vindicated him. Other than the two rulings, Respondent produced no other documentary evidence in support of his statements. He had not seen any of the judge's internal memoranda related to the case and he did not talk to the judge's staff about the case.
As Respondent's conduct in the Jaji matter predated the adoption of the current Rules of Professional Conduct, the Hearing Board considered Respondent's conduct based upon the 1990 Rules. The Hearing Board concluded that Respondent violated Rule 8.2 (a) by making a statement the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge. In addition, the Hearing Board concluded that Respondent's statements were so reckless as to constitute a knowing misrepresentation. Accordingly, the Board found Respondent engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud or misrepresentation in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4). The Board also found that the statements were material and therefore, Respondent made a statement of material fact or law to a
tribunal which he knew or reasonably should have known was false in violation of Rule 3.3(a)(1). Finally, because Respondent disrupted the proceedings and burdened the court system with his baseless accusations, the Hearing Board concluded Respondent engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5).
Respondent's Statements Regarding Judge Chiola
In 2005, Respondent filed three successive legal malpractice cases on behalf of Sara Balakar against the law firm Romanucci & Blandin and attorney James Urtis. He voluntarily dismissed the first two lawsuits after receiving adverse rulings, including a February 17, 2009 ruling by Judge Thomas Chiola granting a defense motion for partial summary judgment. In May 2009, Judge Diane Larson granted a defense motion to dismiss the third lawsuit.
Respondent appealed the May 2009 dismissal. In his briefs before the appellate court, filed in October and December 2010, Respondent made various statements about Judge Chiola. He stated, "This is about how Judge Thomas R. Chiola fixed a case for the defendants?" In his brief, he accused Judge Chiola of participating in a fraudulent scheme against his client. He stated that after Judge Chiola's February 17, 2009 ruling, "Judge Chiola went ?AWOL' into hiding once he realized that plaintiff's attorney was confronting him for his role in the fraud." He said that Judge Chiola's conduct was "simply one example of the corruption by some judges at the Daley Center circuit court." Finally, Respondent stated that there "was corruption and case fixing in the chambers of Judge Chiola on February 17, 2009."
At hearing, Respondent testified at length regarding this matter. He testified that Judge Chiola called a settlement conference in his chambers on February 17, 2009, the date the matter was scheduled for trial. Respondent conceded he did not have an expert witness but did
not believe he needed one. Respondent stated that Judge Chiola requested that he dismiss the case, but Respondent refused. At that point, Respondent asked Judge Chiola to recuse himself, and Judge Chiola became angry and requested a court reporter. In the responsive brief filed by the defense in the case, the lawyers asserted that Judge Chiola gave Respondent the option of dismissing the case or proceeding to trial without an expert witness; Respondent opted to dismiss the lawsuit, even though it was his second voluntary dismissal. At the disciplinary hearing, Respondent continued to stand by his statements in his brief. Respondent testified at his disciplinary hearing, "From what transpired in the case, it was clear to me what [Judge Chiola] was doing" and "[t]hat case was fixed."
The Hearing Board concluded that Respondent's unfounded accusations attacked the judge's qualifications and integrity. Moreover, the Hearing Board concluded that Respondent made the statements with a reckless disregard for the truth, in violation of Rule 8.2(a). Respondent failed to provide any basis for the statements. Rather, the evidence showed that Respondent was unhappy with a ruling by the judge. Respondent's displeasure with a court's decision does not provide a justifiable basis for impugning the integrity of the judge. See, e.g., In re Hoffman, 08 SH 65 (Review Bd., June 23, 2010), recommendation adopted, No. M.R. 24030 (Sept. 22, 2010); In re Mann, 06 CH 38 (Review Bd., March 29, 2010), recommendation adopted, No. M.R. 23935 (Sept. 20, 2010). Accordingly, the Hearing Board concluded that Respondent violated Rules 8.2(a) and 8.4(c) of the 2010 Rules of Professional Conduct. Again, because Respondent's conduct required the appellate court to consider his unfounded accusations, the Hearing Board also concluded that Respondent engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(d).
Respondent's Statements Regarding Judge Lynn Egan
In 2007, Respondent filed a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of Steven Dei against Tumara Food Mart. Respondent caused the sheriff to serve an employee of Tumara. Tumara did not file an answer or appearance. Upon Respondent's motion, Judge Lynn Egan entered a default judgment against Tumara. Shortly thereafter, Tumara file a motion to vacate the default judgment, claiming that service upon the employee was not proper service upon Tumara. On June 19, 2009, Judge Egan vacated the default judgment. Respondent appealed, and in July 2011, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed Judge Egan's order vacating the default judgment.
Following the appellate court's decision, Respondent posted a 23 page document entitled "An Open Letter to the Illinois Appellate Court" on his law firm's website. In the letter, Respondent accused Judge Egan of bias against him and of ignoring the law and abusing the fact finding process in the case. The letter accused Judge Egan of bias because she is an Irish American and his client is an African American. The letter accuses American Family Insurance Company, the insurer for the defendant, of using "its substantial influence to fix the case" and alleges that the insurance company hired the law firm of Pretzel & Stouffer to defend the lawsuit because Judge Egan's brother, Matthew Egan, worked at the law firm. He further claimed, "The corruption uncovered here happens to be one of a few that can be proved."
Respondent testified that after he had a conversation with opposing counsel, he concluded that Judge Egan and opposing counsel fixed the case. He repeatedly asserted at hearing that he was "railroaded" by Judge Egan and that the proceedings before her were a "sham". The Hearing Board concluded that neither the adverse ruling by Judge Egan nor the undisclosed relationship between the judge and a lawyer employed by the law firm of the defendant provided a basis justifying Respondent's accusations of bias and corruption. See, e.g.,
In re Feldman, 03 CH 23 (Hearing Bd., July 20, 2004) at 17, affirmed, (Review Bd., Feb. 10, 2005), petitions for leave to file exceptions allowed, No. M.R. 20132 (May 20, 2005)(Hearing Board concluded that it was "neither logical nor reasonable to conclude that an incorrect ruling means the judge is corrupt"). The Hearing Board concluded that Respondent's statements were unsupported by the evidence and were so reckless as to be considered a knowing misrepresentation. Consequently, the Hearing Board found that Respondent violated Rules 8.2(a) and 8.4(c). By including the accusations against Judge Egan and against the appellate court in pleadings thus requiring the judiciary to consider Respondent's claims, the Hearing Board concluded Respondent engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(d).
Respondent's Statements Regarding Judge Solganick
In December 2004, Respondent filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of Tunbi Majekodunmi against the Near South Health Center ("NSHC") and various doctors for allegedly failing to diagnose Majekodunmi's cancer. In May 2009, during the course of discovery in the matter, Respondent served upon the defendants a request for admission, in which he requested that the NSHC admit more than 1,000 facts. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the request as unduly burdensome and cumulative, as Respondent had already been given the opportunity to depose the doctors in the litigation. During a hearing on June 5, 2009, Judge Solganick entered an order granting defendants' motion to strike.
In August 2009, the case proceeded to trial. The jury rendered a verdict for the defendants. Respondent filed a notice of appeal on July 30, 2010. On December 2, 2010, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the appeal because Respondent had taken no action with respect to the appeal. On December 9, 2010, Respondent filed a response to the motion, in which
he made numerous statements that Judge Solganick had engaged in a "corrupt ruling." Respondent noted that he had discovered that Judge Solganick had worked in Edward Vrdolyak's law office and that Vrdolyak had been recently convicted of fraud. Respondent implied that because Respondent is African American, Judge Solganick ruled against him, stating, "This is a corrupt use of judicial power under the guise of judicial discretion." He further stated, " No one is saying plaintiff must win at all costs. Plaintiff is however entitled to a fair and impartial trial. Corruption within the system prevented that from happening."
On the same date he filed the above response to the motion, Respondent filed a motion for investigation into his allegations of corruption with the appellate court. He repeated the allegation in his response to the motion. He also sent a letter to Judge Evans repeating the allegations. The letter was forwarded to Judge William Maddux, who replied in January 2011, informing Respondent that his allegations of corruption were unfounded. Respondent then sent a letter on January 18, 2011 to a number of judges and attorneys repeating his allegations of corruption and alleging that the judge's actions were designed to keep him, a black lawyer, out of the law division. Respondent acknowledged sending the letters and said his statements were based on his observations, stating, "I simply wrote things that I believed happened."
The Hearing Board again found that Respondent was unable to offer any evidence to support his statements. The Board stated, "We disagree with Respondent's claim that Judge Solganick's ruling ?gave the case away to the defense.' This conclusion exaggerates the importance of requests to admit. Also, to conclude the Judge's discretionary ruling was a result of corruption and racial discrimination, without more, is reckless." The Hearing Board concluded Respondent violated Rules 8.2(a), 8.4(c) and 8.4(d).
The Findings That Respondent Violated Rule 8.2(a)
Are Not Against the Manifest Weight of the Evidence
Rule 8.2(a) of the 2010 Rules provides in pertinent part, "A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge." Upon review, we give deference to the Hearing Board's factual findings 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). This Board has previously stated that a Hearing Board's finding as to whether a respondent knew his statements were false or acted with reckless disregard as to the truth was a finding of fact entitled to deference. In re Palmisano, 92 CH 109 (Review Bd., Feb. 17, 1994), approved and confirmed, No. M.R. 10116 (May 19, 1994)(the finding that respondent had no factual basis for his statements pursuant to Rule 8.2 was not against the manifest weight of the evidence unless a contrary conclusion was clearly evident).
Upon review, Respondent continues to assert that his statements about the judges were true and therefore did not violate the Rules. He also contends that his due process rights were violated because no judges testified against him. Respondent essentially argues that because no judges testified that the statements were false, the statements must be found to be true. We disagree. By his own admissions, Respondent based his statements on his own subjective beliefs that the judges were corrupt rather than on any objective facts. In similar cases, this Board has relied on similar evidence, absent the testimony of any judges, when concluding that a respondent has violated the Rule. See, e.g., In re Palmisano, 92 CH 109 (Review Bd., Feb. 17, 1994), approved and confirmed, No. M.R. 10116 (May 19, 1994); In re Witter, 09 CH 50 (Review Bd., Dec. 8, 2011), respondent's petition for leave to file exceptions
denied, No. M.R. 25283 (May 18, 2012). Respondent also contends that since no judge complained about Respondent's conduct to the ARDC, the Administrator had no basis to bring the allegations in the Complaint. Respondent is mistaken. The Administrator may initiate an investigation based on any source. See, Commission Rule 51.
As noted by the Administrator, judges are presumed to be impartial. In re Ducey, 01 SH 118 (Review Bd., Sept. 8, 2006), Administrator's petition for leave to file exceptions allowed, No. M.R. 21234 (Sept. 18, 2007). Accordingly, allegations of deliberate corruption on the part of a court are presumed to be false, requiring the attorney to show a basis for a good faith belief in the truth of his or her assertions. See, United States v. Nolen, 472 F.3d 362 (5th Cir. 2006)(attorney required to show good faith belief in the truth of statement that a judge lied about the basis of a ruling; there was no impermissible shifting of the burden). Respondent's disagreement with the judges' rulings does not provide him with a reasonable basis to allege that they acted corruptly.
As explained by the Hearing Board in In re Palmisano, unfounded attacks on judges tend to bring the courts into disrepute:
A suspicious public, and rightfully so, relies upon statements made by those who work within the system as to corruption therein. For it is the attorney who, by practicing day in and day out in that system, most closely understands how it operates and when it fails. When an attorney fosters allegations of judicial corruption upon an unknowledgeable public, the public can only respond by assuming such allegations to be true. The damage that false allegations have on the public's perception of the Court system is incalculable. It is therefore critical that any allegation of corruption have at least some colorable basis. Here, not only is there no such basis for any allegation Respondent made, but most allegations were made only after an adverse ruling, decision or result was rendered or occurred. In such circumstances, Respondent's attacks are reprehensible.
In re Palmisano, 92 CH 109 (Hearing Bd., Oct. 30, 1992) at 22.
Respondent's Statements Are Not Protected Speech Under the First Amendment
Respondent submits that his statements about the judges are protected by the First Amendment. Accordingly, Respondent contends that Rule 8.2(a) is unconstitutional as applied to his conduct. Again, Respondent's arguments are without merit.
The United States Supreme Court has never ruled Rule 8.2 unconstitutional. In In re Sawyer, 360 U.S. 622 (1959) the United States Supreme Court upheld a lawyer's right to criticize the state of the law. However, the Court distinguished statements criticizing the law from statements attacking the integrity or competence of judges. 360 U.S. at 631. The Court did not find the Rule prohibiting lawyers from making false statements regarding the integrity of judges to be unconstitutional. Indeed, the Court noted that the lawyer in question "did not say that [the judge] was corrupt or venal or stupid or incompetent." 360 U.S. at 635. See also, In re Disbarment of Moore, 529 U.S. 1127 (2000).
Similarly, the Illinois Supreme Court has routinely rejected attempts by respondents to argue that the First Amendment protects false statements regarding the integrity of a judge. In re Palmisano, 92 CH 109 (Review Bd., Feb. 17, 1994), approved and confirmed, No. M.R. 10116 (May 19, 1994); In re Kozel, 96 CH 50 (Review Bd., Dec. 30, 1999), petitions for leave to file exceptions allowed, No. M.R. 16530 (June 30, 2000); In re Hoffman, 08 SH 65 (Review Bd., June 23, 2010), recommendation adopted, No. M.R. 24030 (Sept. 22, 2010); In re Mann, 06 CH 38 (Review Bd., March 29, 2010), recommendation adopted, No. M.R. 23935 (Sept. 20, 2010).
The Illinois Supreme Court has long held that although attorneys are permitted to engage in fair criticism of a judge's rulings, they are not permitted to engage in unjust criticism, insulting and scurrilous attacks, or other offensive conduct toward members of the judiciary.
People ex rel Chicago Bar Association v. Metzen, 291 Ill. 55 58, 125 N.E. 2d (1919). Such conduct by attorneys, who are officers of the court, tends to bring the courts and the legal profession into disrepute and to destroy public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary. In re Jafree, 93 Ill.2d 450, 460, 444 N.E.2d 143 (1982); In re Phelps, 55 Ill. 2d 319, 322-323, 303 N.E. 2d 13 (1973).
Respondent's statements do not fall within the boundaries of protected speech. He repeatedly characterized the judges as corrupt. His statements were not merely expressions of opinion or of disagreement with the court's rulings. As stated by the Seventh Circuit in a case of an attorney who argued that the first Amendment protected him from similar professional discipline:
Some judges are dishonest; their identification and removal is a matter of high priority in order to promote a justified public confidence in the judicial system. Indiscriminate accusations of dishonesty, by contrast, do not help cleanse the judicial system of miscreants yet do impair its functioning--for judges do not take to the talk shows to defend themselves, and few litigants can separate accurate from spurious claims of judicial misconduct.
Matter of Palmisano, 70 F.3d 483, 487 (7th Cir. 1995).
The Findings That Respondent Violated Rules
and 8.4(c)(2010) Are Not Against the Manifest Weight of the Evidence
Again, the findings of fact made by the Hearing Board, including the findings as to Respondent's intent under Rules 3.3(a)(1)(1990), 8.4(a)(4)(1990) or 8.4(c)(2010), are generally not to be disturbed unless they are against the manifest weight of the evidence. In re Cutright, 233 Ill. 2d 474, 488, 910 N.E. 2d 931 (2009). "A decision is against the manifest weight of the evidence only if the opposite conclusion is clearly evident." Id. Accordingly, we decline to overturn the findings of the Hearing Board that Respondent made a statement that he knew was false in violation of Rule 3.3(a)(1) in the Jaji matter, and engaged in dishonesty, fraud,
deceit or misrepresentations in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4)(1990) and 8.4(c)(2010) in all four matters. Respondent points to no evidence that the Hearing Board ignored. These findings are consistent with the evidence. Respondent's conduct was deliberate and the Hearing Board found that he made the statements knowing they were false or with a reckless disregard of the truth.
In Light of the Decision in In re Karavidas, We
Overturn the Findings
That Respondent Violated Rule 8.4(a)(5)(1990) or 8.4(d)(2010)
While we do not disagree with the Hearing Panel that Respondent's conduct in making baseless accusations against the judges burdened the court system, we note that the Administrator failed to clearly and unambiguously plead what specific acts of the Respondent had a prejudicial effect on the administration of justice. Pursuant to the recent decision by the Illinois Supreme Court in In re Karavidas, 2013 IL 115767 par. 97 (Nov. 15, 2013), we must therefore overturn the Hearing Board's findings that Respondent violated Rule 8.4(a)(5) or 8.4(d).
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, 981(2006). In determining the appropriate sanction, this Board considers the nature 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, 1200 (2003). In addition, this Board 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, 1034 (2000).
In mitigation, Respondent was licensed in Illinois in 1996 has never been disciplined. He is an African immigrant and became a lawyer, in part, to assist members of the African community. He called several character witnesses who testified as to his character.
We also consider in mitigation, that in the Dei matter before Judge Egan, Respondent had a colorable basis for seeking recusal of the judge. However, that circumstance does not cause us to condone Respondent's use of the intemperate and unjustifiable language in claiming prejudice by the judge.
Indeed, Respondent continues, even with the benefit of hindsight, to stand by his statements as "100% correct". He expresses little comprehension of the harm caused by his conduct. While Respondent was not previously disciplined, his conduct in the four matters outlined in the Administrator's Complaint was not isolated and continued over the course of many years. He repeated many of the statements at the hearing. The Hearing Board stated, "An attorney who repeatedly takes adverse rulings in client cases personally and who is inclined to believe he was racially discriminated against whenever he feels he was treated unfairly poses a danger to our court system. This is especially true when the attorney's response to these feelings is to make insulting and offensive accusations about the court system and its judges." We agree. Respondent's conduct does not serve the interests of his clients or the legal system. We are concerned that Respondent, if allowed to practice, would continue to engage in similar misconduct if faced with an adverse ruling by a judge.
In other cases involving misconduct of this nature, the Court has imposed severe sanctions. In some cases, the respondents have been disbarred. See, In re Palmisano, 92 CH 109 (Review Bd., Feb. 17, 1994), approved and confirmed, No. M.R. 10116 (May 19, 1994); In re Kozel, 96 CH 50 (Review Bd., Dec. 30, 1999), petitions for leave to file exceptions allowed, No.
M.R. 16530 (June 30, 2000) (respondent disbarred for misconduct including filing pleadings in court that included scurrilous accusations); In re Zurek, 99 CH 45 (Review Bd., March 28, 2002), recommendation adopted, No. M.R. 18164 (Sept. 19, 2002)(respondent disbarred for making inflammatory statements about a judge and opposing counsel and for making lewd and offensive remarks to a deponent). Like the Hearing Board, we do not believe that Respondent's conduct is as severe as in many of the cases where disbarment has been imposed.
In other similar matters, a suspension that continues until further order of the Court has been imposed. For example, in In re Mann, 06 CH 38 (Review Bd., March 29, 2010), recommendation adopted, No. M.R. 23935 (Sept. 20, 2010), the Court imposed a suspension of two years and until further order of Court upon an attorney who made false statements about the integrity of five judges, failed to comply with a court order and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. In In re Phelps, 55 Ill.2d 319, 303 N.E.2d 13 (1973), the Court suspended an attorney for two years and until further order of the Court for making unfounded attacks upon judges after adverse rulings, including allegations that the judges engaged in "coercion" and "illegal acts" and conspired to obstruct justice and defraud the client.
The Hearing Board's recommendation is therefore consistent with the sanctions imposed in similar matters and serves the purposes of the disciplinary system. Based on the serious nature of the underlying misconduct and the evidence in aggravation as found by the Hearing Board, we conclude that Respondent's continued practice of law poses a risk of harm to his clients, to the profession and to the integrity of the legal system. We agree with the Hearing Board that Respondent's misconduct warrants a three year suspension and until further order of the Court.
With the exception of the findings that Respondent violated Rules 8.4(a)(5)(1990) or 8.4(d)(2010), we affirm the findings of misconduct of the Hearing Board. We recommend to the Court that Respondent, Lanre O. Amu, be suspended for three years and until further order of the Court.
Robert M. Henderson
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 onDecember 13, 2013.
Kenneth G. Jablonski, Clerk of the