Filed August 3, 2010

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

In the Matter of:

STEPHAN WALTER ADDISON,
No. 6282418,

Commission No. 07 CH 39

BENJAMIN BUTLER,
No. 6284340,

Attorney-Respondents.

Commission No. 07 CH 40

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE HEARING BOARD

INTRODUCTION

The hearing in this matter was held on April 12, 2010, at the Chicago offices of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission ("ARDC"), before a Hearing Board Panel consisting of William E. Hornsby, Jr. Chair, Heather A. McPherson, and Yehuda C. Cohen. The Administrator was represented by Wendy Muchman and Christine Anderson. Respondents appeared in person and were represented by George Collins and Theresa M. Gronkiewicz.

PLEADINGS

On May 22, 2007, the Administrator filed a three-count Complaint against Respondents pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b). Count I alleges that Respondents engaged in criminal conduct including sexual assault. Count II alleges that Respondent Addison engaged in criminal conduct including reckless endangerment and public sexual gratification. Count III alleges that Respondent Butler engaged in criminal conduct including reckless endangerment. On September 24, 2007, each Respondent filed an Answer to the Complaint in which Respondents admitted some of the factual allegations. Respondents denied all allegations of misconduct. On the date

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of the hearing, April 12, 2010, the Administrator requested that the Hearing Panel dismiss Count I of the Complaint. The Hearing Board Chair granted the request.

THE EVIDENCE

The Administrator and Respondents stipulated to the following facts:

Count II: Respondent Addison

Respondent was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 2004 and is 31 years old. He was also admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 2004. Sometime prior to August 5, 2005, Respondent organized a weekend reunion at Respondent's family summer house in Green Lake, Wisconsin. On Friday, August 5, 2005, in preparation for the trip, Respondent and Respondent Butler, picked up supplies to bring to the house, including alcoholic beverages such as beer, vodka, whiskey and spirits.

On the afternoon of August 5, 2005, and during the day-time hours of August 6, 2005, Respondent and his friends spent their time socializing and drinking alcohol. On August 6, 2005, at around 11:00 p.m. Respondent and his friends went to the Goose Blind, a tavern located in Green Lake, Wisconsin. There they consumed additional alcoholic beverages. At around 1:00a.m., on the morning of August 7, 2005, Respondent and his friends arrived at another tavern, Berts, in Ripon, Wisconsin. There they consumed additional alcoholic beverages.

Shortly, before Berts closed, around 2:00 a.m., Respondent met a woman, Dawn Paez, on the dance floor. After Berts closed, Respondents and Paez were standing and talking outside the bar. Paez agreed to drive Respondents to Respondent Addison's family summer house in Green Lake. At some point during the evening, while discussing their respective employment, Respondent Butler told Paez that he and Respondent Addison were lawyers and handed Paez his attorney-at-law business card.

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Respondents and Paez drove out of Ripon, heading toward Green Lake. Paez was driving her car, Respondent Addison was in the front seat, passenger side, and Respondent Butler was in the back seat behind Paez. A few blocks from Respondent Addison's Green Lake residence, Paez pulled her car into the boat landing and put her car in park.

On August 7, 2005, Respondent, while intoxicated, engaged in sexual activity with Paez while on the hood of a motor vehicle that was parked on a public boat ramp in Green Lake, Wisconsin. Paez later complained to police authorities. Respondent responded to the complaint by giving a full statement to the police without any legal counsel present.

On December 8, 2006, Respondent was charged in a three-count amended information by the District Attorney of the Circuit Court of Green Lake County, Wisconsin. State of Wisconsin v. Stephan W. Addison, case no. 05 CF 90. The amended information charged that Respondent had engaged in the following felony and misdemeanor offenses:

Count 1: Second Degree Reckless Endangerment when Respondent in the town of Brooklyn, Green Lake County, Wisconsin, did recklessly endanger the safety of Dawn M. Paez contrary to sec. 941.20(2) Wis. Stat.; and

Counts 2 & 3: Sexual Gratification in Public when Respondent in the town of Brooklyn, Green Lake County, Wisconsin, did commit an act of sexual gratification in public involving the sex organ of one person and the mouth of another contrary to sec. 944.17(a) Wis. Stat.

On December 8, 2006, Respondent stipulated no contest to the charges set forth in the amended information. On December 8, 2006, a judgment of conviction was entered against Respondent in the Circuit Court of Green Lake County, Wisconsin in case no. 05 CF 90. On Count 1, a felony, Respondent was sentenced to 3 years probation, 5 years confinement, stayed in full, and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service. On Counts 2 & 3, both misdemeanors, Respondent was sentenced to thirty days in jail, which were to be served concurrently, and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service on each count.

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Respondent has completed his jail sentence and community service hours and has complied with all of the other conditions of his probation. He was released from probation on December 9, 2009.

Stipulated Evidence Offered in Mitigation

Respondent has not been previously disciplined, has expressed remorse and has cooperated in these disciplinary proceedings. Respondent was married in 2007. Respondent is engaged as an outside consultant for a private equity company in Wisconsin. Respondent also maintains a solo legal practice involving real estate transactions in Wisconsin and Illinois.

In January 2007, Respondent concluded his thirty days of incarceration. Respondent has also completed the 500 hours of community service work ordered as a condition of his probation by doing manual labor for the Town of Brooklyn and pro bono legal services for The Campaign in Support of C# Prisoners, whose goal is attempt to establish parole for indeterminately sentenced Illinois prisoners. Respondent continues to volunteer his time on pro bono matters for The Campaign in Support of C# Prisoners and has also performed pro bono services for Streetwise, First Defense Legal Aid, Dane County Small Claims Assistance Program and the Wisconsin Lawyer's Assistance Program.

If this matter resulted in a contested hearing, Respondent would present favorable character witness testimony from no less than six witnesses, including lawyers acquainted with Respondent's reputation as an honest and truthful lawyer in Chicago and Madison legal communities. Respondent's conduct was an isolated act of poor judgment, for which Respondent expresses regret and remorse. As a result of the conviction, Respondent was required to resign as an associate with the large Chicago law firm that employed him since he was licensed in 2004.

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Respondent graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School and the University of Wisconsin School of Business with a combined JD and MS degree. He was a member of the honor society and was placed on the Dean's List. Respondent is a member of the Illinois and Wisconsin Bar Associations. Respondent is ashamed of his actions and recognizes that his conduct was unacceptable.

Count III: Respondent Butler

Respondent was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 2004 and is 32 years old. He was also admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 2004. Sometime prior to August 5, 2005, Respondents organized a weekend reunion at Respondent Addison's family summer house in Green Lake, Wisconsin. On Friday August 5, 2005, in preparation for the trip, Respondents picked up supplies to bring to the house, including alcoholic beverages such as beer, vodka, whiskey and spirits.

On the afternoon of August 5, 2005, and during the day-time hours of August 6, 2005, Respondent and his friends spent their time socializing and drinking alcohol. On August 6, 2005, at around 11:00 p.m. Respondent and his friends went to the Goose Blind, a tavern located in Green Lake, Wisconsin. There they consumed additional alcoholic beverages. At around 1:00 a.m., on the morning of August 7, 2005, Respondent and his friends arrived at another tavern, Berts, in Ripon, Wisconsin. There they consumed additional alcoholic beverages.

Shortly before Berts closed, around 2:00 a.m. Respondent Addison and Paez were standing and talking outside the bar. Paez agreed to drive Respondents to Respondent Addison's family summer house in Green Lake. At some point during the evening, while discussing their respective employment, Respondent Butler told Paez that he and Respondent Addison were lawyers and handed Paez his attorney-at-law business card.

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Respondents and Paez drove out of Ripton, heading toward Green Lake. Paez was driving her car, Respondent Addison was in the front seat, passenger side, and Respondent Butler was in the backseat, behind Paez. A few blocks from Respondent Addison's Green Lake residence, Paez pulled her car into the boat landing and put her car in park.

On August 7, 2005, Respondent, while intoxicated, engaged in sexual activity with Paez while both were on the hood of a motor vehicle that was parked on a public boat ramp in Green Lake, Wisconsin. Paez later complained to police authorities. Respondent responded to the complaint by giving a full statement to the police without any legal counsel present.

On December 8, 2006, Respondent was charged in a one-count amended information by the District Attorney in the Circuit Court of Green Lake County, Wisconsin. State of Wisconsin v. Benjamin C. Butler, case no. 05 CF 91. The amended information charged that Respondent had engaged in the following felony offense:

Second Degree Endangerment when Respondent in the town of Brooklyn, Green Lake County Wisconsin, did recklessly endanger the safety of Dawn M. Paez contrary to sec. 941.30 (2) Wis. Stat.

On December 8, 2006, Respondent stipulated no contest to the charges set forth in the amended information in case no. 05 CF 91. On December 8, 2006, a judgment of conviction was entered against Respondent on the above-described charge. Respondent was sentenced to three years probation, 1 year and 6 months confinement, stayed in full, and was ordered to complete 300 hours of community service. Respondent has completed his community service hours and has complied with all of the other conditions of his probation. He was released from probation on December 9, 2009.

Stipulated Evidence Offered in Mitigation

Respondent has not been previously disciplined, has expressed remorse and has cooperated in these disciplinary proceedings. Respondent maintains a solo general legal practice

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in Chicago and is also associated with Collins, Bargione and Vuckovich as an independent contractor.

Respondent completed the 300 hours of community service work ordered as a condition of his probation by providing pro bono legal services for The Campaign in Support of C# Prisoners, whose goal is to attempt to establish parole for indeterminately sentenced Illinois prisoners, The Uptown People's Law Center and First Defense Legal Aid. Respondent has volunteered for the C# Campaign since his admission to the Illinois bar in 2004. He has provided in excess of 300 additional hours of pro bono legal services to the C# Campaign and the First Defense Legal Aid beyond what was required as a condition of his probation.

If this matter resulted in a contested hearing, Respondent would present favorable character witness testimony from no less than six witnesses, including a former University of Wisconsin Law School professor, other respected members of the legal profession and clients and attorneys who know Respondent from his work with Collins, Bargione & Vuckovicj as to his reputation as an honest and truthful lawyer.

Respondent's conduct was an isolated act of poor judgment, for which Respondent has and will always have great remorse. As a result of the conviction, Respondent was required to resign as an associate with the large Chicago law firm that employed him since he was licensed in 2004. Respondent graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School, Order of Coif, Cum Laude with a combined JD and MBA degree. Respondent is a member of the Illinois Bar Association. Respondent recognizes that his conduct on August 7, 2005 was inconsistent with his training and his attainments, and is ashamed of his conduct.

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FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

In attorney disciplinary proceedings, the Administrator must prove the alleged misconduct by clear and convincing evidence. Supreme Court Rule 753(c)(6); In re Ingersoll, 186 Ill. 2d 163, 168, 710 N.E.2d 390 (1999). It is the responsibility of the Hearing Panel to determine the credibility of the witnesses, weigh conflicting testimony, draw reasonable inferences, and make factual findings based upon all the evidence. In re Timpone, 157 Ill. 2d 178, 196, 623 N.E.2d 300, 308 (1993). With the above principles in mind and based on the joint stipulation of misconduct, we make the following findings.

In Count II, Respondent Addison is guilty of:

  1. Committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, by committing reckless endangerment and public sexual gratification in violation of 941.30(2) and 944.17(2)(a) Wis. Stat.;

  2. Engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5); and

  3. Engaging in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or bring the courts or legal profession into disrepute in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.

In Count III, Respondent Butler is guilty of:

  1. Committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, by committing reckless endangerment in violation of 941.30(2) Wis. Stat.;

  2. Engaging 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; and

  3. Engaging in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or bring the courts or legal profession into disrepute in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.

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RECOMMENDATION

The purpose of the disciplinary system is to protect the public, maintain the integrity of the legal system and safeguard the administration of justice. In re Howard, 188 Ill. 2d 423, 434, 721 N.E.2d 1126 (1999). We should not recommend a sanction which will benefit neither the public nor the legal profession. In re Leonard, 64 Ill. 2d 398, 406, 356 N.E.2d 62 (1976). In determining the proper sanction, we consider the proven misconduct along with any aggravating and mitigating factors. In re Witt, 145 Ill. 2d 380, 298, 583 N.E.2d 526 (1991).

The Administrator and Respondent's counsel recommend that Respondent Addison be suspended from the practice of law for 60 days. In support of the recommendation, the Administrator and Respondent's counsel rely on the following cases: In re Gordon, 94 CH 641, M.R. 10569 (Nov. 30, 1994) (attorney was suspended from the practice of law for thirty days, stayed by probation because of depression issues, for having several contacts of a sexual nature with a client), In re Stogsdill, 02 CH 99, M.R. 18931 (Sept. 22, 2003) and In re Picone, Jr., 02 CH 98, M.R. 22417 (Sept. 22, 2003) (the attorneys were suspended for thirty days for becoming involved in a sexual relationship with a client), In re Swiney, 05 CH 107, M.R. 20954 (Sept. 20, 2006) (the attorney was suspended for thirty days for a conviction involving the obstruction of a peace officer.)

Along with the above stated case law and admitted misconduct, we consider factors of mitigation and aggravation. There is evidence of significant mitigation. Respondent Addison admitted wrongdoing and expressed remorse. He has not been previously disciplined and has fully cooperated in these disciplinary proceedings. Most significantly, Respondent Addison continues to volunteer his time on pro bono matters and offered character witness testimony regarding his reputation for truth and veracity. There is no aggravating evidence.

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Given the proven misconduct, the significant mitigating evidence and lack of aggravating evidence, we recommend that Respondent Addison be suspended from the practice of law for 60 days.

The Administrator and Respondent's counsel recommend that Respondent Butler be suspended from the practice of law for 30 days. In support of the recommendation, the Administrator and Respondent's counsel rely on the above stated cases. Respondent Butler was charged with one less criminal offense than Respondent Addison, therefore a shorter sanction is appropriate.

We also consider the significant mitigating evidence. Respondent Butler has not been previously disciplined and has fully cooperated in these disciplinary proceedings. Respondent Butler admitted misconduct and expressed remorse. Respondent Butler has volunteered over 300 hours of pro bono legal services. In addition, Respondent Butler offered character witness testimony regarding his reputation for truth and veracity. No aggravating evidence was offered.

Given the proven misconduct, the significant mitigating evidence and lack of aggravating evidence, we recommend that Respondent Butler be suspended from the practice of law for 30 days.

Date Entered: August 3, 2010

William E. Hornsby, Jr., Chair, Heather McPherson and Yehuda C. Cohen, concurring.