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

In the Matter of:

 PAUL M. WEISS,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No.  6217260.

 

Commission No.  08 CH 116

FILED -  January 5, 2009

AMENDED COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Wendy J. Muchman, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent, Paul M. Weiss, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on November 4, 1993, and alleges that Respondent has engaged in the following conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute:

COUNT I-Rachel Barker
Telephone Harassment, Assault and Battery

1. At all times alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 5/12-3, which provides, "Battery. (a) A person commits battery if he intentionally or knowingly without legal justification and by any means, (1) causes harm to an individual or (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual."

2. At all times alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 5/12-1, which provides, "Assault. (a) A person commits an assault when, without lawful authority, he engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery."

3. At all times alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a criminal statute in Illinois ILCS 5/10-3, which provides, "Unlawful restraint. (a) A person commits the offense of unlawful restraint when he knowingly without legal authority detains another."

4. At all times alleged in this complaint there was in effect a criminal statue in Illinois 720 ILCS 135/1-1 which provides:

"Harassment by telephone. Harassment by telephone is use of telephone communication for any of the following purposes:

  1. Making any comment, request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy or indecent with an intent to offend; or

  2. Making a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues with intent to abuse, threaten or harass any person at the called number; or

  3. Making repeated telephone calls, during which conversations, ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number; or

  4. Knowingly permitting any telephone under one's control to be used for any of the purposes mentioned herein.

5. In the fall of 2001, Rachel Barker ("Rachel") began employment as a legal assistant at the law office of Freed & Weiss, LLC, hereinafter ("the firm") where Respondent is a named partner. Rachel's birthday is July 26, 1982. The highest level of education she had completed was high school.

6. Within the first week of Rachel's employment, Respondent brought her into a new office space, stood extremely close to her, and made a comment to her about wanting to kiss her. Rachel refused Respondent's suggestion.

7. Shortly after Rachel began her employment at Respondent's request, Rachel agreed to go to a Chicago Bulls basketball game at the United Center with him.

8. Following the game, Respondent told Rachel he would take her home. While still in the United Center parking lot, Respondent reached over to Rachel and grabbed her upper thighs and attempted to reach her vagina. Rachel pushed Respondent away and asked him to bring her home.

9. Respondent then pulled down his pants and asked Rachel to "kiss it," referring to his penis. Rachel exited Respondent's car and went home alone.

10. During the period of her employment at the firm, Respondent on various occasions made sexually suggestive comments to Rachel. On various occasions, Respondent also attempted to kiss Rachel and touch her breasts and vagina over her clothing. When these incidents occurred, Rachel asked Respondent not to touch her or say anything vulgar to her.

11. Between November 1, 2001 and July 28, 2001 while Rachel was employed at the firm, Respondent called Rachel's cell phone on forty-nine occasions at various hours during the day and night. Respondent commented about Rachel's attractive appearance and things of a sexual nature that he wanted to do to her. Respondent made other comments that were obscene, lewd, lascivious and filthy or indecent with intent to offend. Rachel would tell Respondent not to call her anymore. Instead of the calls ceasing, Respondent's phone call became more persistent, forceful and inappropriate as time continued. Respondent asked Rachel to talk dirty to him while he masturbated. Rachel refused. Rachel heard Respondent grunting and moaning during the calls. Respondent would tell Rachel that he was masturbating. Rachel repeatedly requested Respondent to cease making the telephone calls.

12. Respondent made the telephone calls outlined in paragraph eleven above with the intent to abuse, threaten or harass Rachel.

13. In 2002, Rachel requested an advance on her salary to pay her cell phone bill. Respondent gave Rachel $300 and told her to consider it a loan, which she could pay back "in the flesh."

14. Between 2002 and 2003 on regular occasions, Respondent pushed Rachel against a wall in an office, kiss her and grab her breasts. Rachel told Respondent to stop and got away as quickly as she could. On one such occasion, Respondent told Rachel, "While I had sexual relations with my wife this morning, I was thinking about you."

15. At some time after January 7, 2003, Respondent cornered Rachel while she was on her way to the office restroom. Respondent then forced Rachel into a stairwell where he attempted to kiss her. Respondent grabbed Rachel's breasts, touched her vagina over her clothing and attempted to put his hand down her pants. When Rachel resisted Respondent's advances, Respondent exposed himself and masturbated until he ejaculated on the stairwell wall. During this incident, Rachel repeatedly requested that he release her and stop what he was doing.

16. As a result of the conduct set forth 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, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, by committing battery in violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-3, assault in violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-1; unlawful restraint in violation of 720 ILCS 5/10-3 and telephone harassment in violation of 720 ILCS 135/1-1;

  2. conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  3. 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.

COUNT II-Tanja Samardzija
Assault and Battery

1. At all times alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 5/12-3, which provides, "Battery. (a) A person commits battery if he intentionally or knowingly without legal justification and by any means, (1) causes harm to an individual or (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual."

2. At all times alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 5/12-1, which provides, "Assault. (a) A person commits an assault when, without lawful authority, he engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery."

3. In 2002, Tanja Samardzija ("Tanja") began her employment as an associate attorney at the law firm, Freed & Weiss, LLC (hereinafter "the firm") where Respondent is a named partner.

4. During the period of her employment at the firm, Respondent made comments of a lewd or sexual nature to Tanja.

5. In August 2002, Respondent approached Tanja in a copy room and asked her if she had a boyfriend. She replied not really. He then asked if she believed in "sex between friends." Respondent asked Tanja if he could feel her calf muscle and when Tanja did not reply, Respondent reached down and felt her muscle, saying, "I bet you'd be a lot of fun. You've gotten a lot better looking in the past year." Respondent then said, "I'm not harassing you, am I?" Tanya looked at Respondent warning him that she wanted him to stop.

6. On September 12, 2002, Respondent went into Tanja's office to discuss her draft responses of motions to dismiss. Tanja was wearing an ankle-length skirt with a slit in the front and was seated. During a discussion about a legal matter, Tanja crossed her legs, briefly exposing her right calf. Respondent reached over to Tanja to touch her right calf. She quickly uncrossed her legs and held the slit in her skirt closed to get Respondent to stop. Tanya then asked Respondent about the edits to divert his attention back to work and so he would leave her alone.

7. On September 13, 2002, Respondent entered Tanja's office to discuss a legal matter. Respondent then interjected, "You know, you need to start coming in her wearing some low-cut shit…because sex sells." Tanja replied with disgust, that sex had nothing to do with work. Respondent left her office.

8. On September 23, 2002, Tanya met with Respondent and his partner, Eric Freed. Among other things, she told them that she wanted the sexual harassment to stop.

9. On December 12 and 21, 2002, Tanya and Rachel had conversations during which they discussed some of Respondent's inappropriate conduct towards them.

10. On December 30, 2002, Respondent's firm terminated Tanya Samardzija's employment by leaving a voice mail message for her when she was out of the office.

11. As a result of the conduct set forth 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, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, by committing battery in violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-3, and assault in violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-1;

  2. conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  3. 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.

COUNT III-Krystle White
Assault and Battery

1. At all times alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 5/12-3, which provides, "Battery. (a) A person commits battery if he intentionally or knowingly without legal justification and by any means, (1) causes harm to an individual or (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual."

2. At all times relevant to the events alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 5/12-1, which provides, "Assault. (a) A person commits an assault when, without lawful authority, he engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery."

3. In the summer of 2003, Krystle White ("Krystle") began her employment as a hourly employee at Respondent's law firm, Freed & Weiss, LLC (hereinafter "the firm"). Her job responsibilities included answering phones and filing. Krystle's birthday is June 29, 1985.

4. During the period of her employment at the firm, Krystle was walking down the hall dressed in a khaki skirt and black shirt. Respondent came up behind her, said "you look great," and then grabbed her buttocks and said, "I just wanted you to know that."

5. Krystle was very upset by Respondent's touching her body. Her half-sister, Rachel Barker was also employed at the firm. Krystle, still shaking, went and told Rachel about what Respondent had done. Rachel and Krystle went to talk to Respondent. Rachel asked Respondent, "Did you just touch my sister's butt?" Respondent denied the same. Krystle left Respondent's employ shortly thereafter.

6. As a result of the conduct set forth 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, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, by committing battery in violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-3, and assault in violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-1;

  2. conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  3. 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.

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

Wendy J. Muchman
Counsel for the Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, #1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
(312) 565-2600
Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:   Wendy J. Muchman