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

In the Matter of:

 JAMES VICTOR EBEL II,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No. 6242829.

 

Commission No.  08 CH 73

FILED -  July 30, 2008

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Marita C. Sullivan, pursuant to Supreme Court Rules 761 and 753, complains of Respondent, James Victor Ebel II, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on November 6, 1997, and alleges that Respondent has engaged in the following conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute:

Criminal Conduct and Conviction for Aggravated Domestic Battery

1. On March 18, 2006, Respondent was alone at his home caring for his five-week-old twin sons, N.E. and Z.E.

2. During this time, Respondent violently shook Z.E.

3. As the day progressed, Z.E. became inconsolable, refusing to eat and sleeping very little. Z.E. slept very poorly that night.

4. On the morning of March 19, 2006, Respondent's wife reported to Respondent that Z.E. seemed to be having brief spasms in his wrist, eyelids or neck.

5. Later that morning, Respondent joined his wife, children and his parents for brunch at a country club. At that time, it became apparent that Z.E.'s spasms were worsening in strength and frequency. Z.E.'s physician was called and the physician directed them to bring Z.E. in immediately.

6. Upon examining Z.E., the physician advised Respondent and his wife that Z.E. was having seizures. The seizures were full body and lasting 2-3 minutes each. Because there were no signs of a head injury or head trauma, the physician asked Respondent and his wife if they had any idea what may have caused the seizures. At no time did Respondent inform the physician that he had shaken Z.E. The physician advised them that Z.E. should be admitted to a hospital. Respondent told the doctor that they would take Z.E. to Central DuPage Hospital, but the physician stated that Z.E. should be transferred to a hospital by ambulance directly from his office.

7. The ambulance took Z.E. to Glen Oaks Hospital, where he was given a CAT scan and it was determined that he had a cerebral hemorrhage. When Respondent was questioned about the injury by a nurse, Respondent stated to her that he had no idea how Z.E. could have been injured. The nurse telephoned the police to report her suspicions that Z.E. had been abused and an officer was dispatched to Glen Oaks Hospital and questioned Respondent again. Respondent advised the officer that he had no further information. Z.E. was then transferred to Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

8. On March 20, 2006, after Z.E. was transferred to Children's Memorial Hospital, Respondent and his wife were repeatedly questioned by physicians, social workers and police officers seeking an explanation for Z.E.'s injury. A physician determined that there were "petchiae," or tiny red blood vessel break marks, on Z.E.'s chest below his neck, an indicator for "Shaken Baby Syndrome." Respondent denied dropping or shaking Z.E. and stated that he could not think of anything he did which could have caused injury to Z.E.

9. Respondent's statements to the staff at Glen Oaks Hospital and Children's Memorial Hospital that he had no knowledge as to how Z.E. may have been injured were false and Respondent knew they were false when he made them.

10. On March 21, 2006, Respondent reported to a physician that on March 18, Respondent had been "tossing" Z.E. into the air and catching him, but had dropped him, which may have led to an injury. The physician reported Respondent's statement to the police, but stated his opinion that Respondent was not being truthful and that he believed that Respondent had abused Z.E.

11. Respondent's statement to the physician, as set forth in paragraph 10 above, that he had been "tossing" his son into the air, was false, and Respondent knew it was false when he made it.

12. On March 21, 2006, a police officer and child advocacy investigator interviewed Respondent. Respondent reiterated that he had been tossing Z.E. into the air and had dropped him. The social worker asked Respondent if he had shaken his son and Respondent stated that he had not. The police officer asked Respondent to prepare a written statement describing what happened. Respondent added to the written narrative a specific statement that he did not shake Z.E.

13. Respondent's statements to the social worker that he had not shaken his son, as set forth in paragraph 12 above, were false and Respondent knew they were false when he made them.

14. Prior to March 23, 2006, Z.E. underwent a number of genetic and diagnostic tests to determine a possible physical cause for his symptoms. On March 23, 2006, Z.E. was scheduled to undergo a spinal tap and other medical tests.

15. On March 23, 2006, Respondent informed his wife that he had in fact shaken Z.E. on March 18, when he was taking care of him alone, and that the spinal tap and other scheduled tests were unnecessary. Respondent's wife then so advised medical personnel at Children's Memorial Hospital. At no time did Respondent advise any medical or criminal authority that he had shaken his son.

16. On August 16, 2006, Respondent was charged in a grand jury bill of indictment in the Circuit Court of the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit in Kane County, Illinois, People of the State of Illinois vs. James Ebel, Case No. 06 CF 1952.

17. At all times alleged in this complaint there was a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 5/12-4.3(a), which outlaws aggravated battery to child.

18. The indictment charged that Respondent committed the offence of aggravated battery to a child, by causing great bodily injury to a child under the age of 13 years, in violation of Chapter 720, Section 5/12-4.3(a) of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, when he shook Z.E., causing a brain injury.

19. At all times alleged in this complaint there was a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 5/12-3.3(a), which outlaws aggravated domestic battery.

20. On December 14, 2007, Respondent pled guilty to one count of aggravated domestic battery, Count I of an amended indictment, and a nolle prosequi was entered as to the remaining counts. On that date, an order was entered sentencing Respondent to serve 180 days of periodic imprisonment (work release), followed by 48 months probation, and fines, fees and costs totaling $5,792. The terms of Respondent's probation included no contact of any kind with his children during the work release period, and allowed subsequent supervised contact with his then-four-year-old daughter. After successful completion of counseling and with the consent of mental health providers and Adult Court Services, Respondent could have supervised visitation with Z.E. and N.E.

21. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects by violating 720 ILCS 5/12-3.3(a), in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects by violating 720 ILCS 5/12-4.3(a), in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  3. conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  4. conduct which tends to bring the courts or legal profession into disrepute, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.

WHEREFORE, the Administrator respectfully requests that this matter be assigned to a panel of the Hearing Board, that a hearing be held pursuant to Supreme Court Rules 761 and 753, and that the panel make findings of fact, conclusions of fact and law, and a recommendation for such discipline as is warranted.

Marita C. Sullivan
Counsel for Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Telephone: (312) 565-2600 
Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:   Marita C. Sullivan