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

In the Matter of:

STEVEN R. ROBERTSON,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No.  6182196.

 

Commission No.  09 CH 61

FILED -  August 17, 2009

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, Steven R. Robertson, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on May 3, 1982, 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:

COUNT I
(Conviction for domestic battery)

1. On or about June 7, 1997, Respondent got into an argument with his wife, Teresa Robertson, while in a Batavia, Illinois, restaurant, El Taco Grande. Respondent was intoxicated. Respondent slapped Teresa with an open hand on the right side of her face, causing redness and swelling.

2. Batavia police officers were called to the scene, and Teresa signed a complaint prepared by the officers.

3. By the actions described in paragraph 1, Respondent knowingly, and without legal justification, caused bodily harm to Teresa Robertson.

4. At all times alleged in this complaint there was a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(1), which outlaws domestic battery.

5. On June 16, 1997, the State's Attorney of Kane County filed the complaint prepared by the officers at the scene against Respondent based upon the incident referred to in paragraph one, above. The matter was docketed as People of the State of Illinois v. Steven R. Robertson, No. 97 CM 3685, in the Circuit Court of Kane County, Illinois. The complaint charged Respondent with committing the offense of domestic battery in violation of Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 720, Act 5, Section 12-3.2(a)(1), in that he slapped Teresa Robertson, causing injury to her face.

6. On July 31, 1997, Respondent pleaded guilty to domestic battery in connection with People v. Steven R. Robertson, No. 97 CM 3685. Respondent was ordered to pay a fine to the clerk of the Circuit Court of Kane County in the amount of $200.

7. Since July 31, 1997, Illinois Supreme Court Rule 761(a) has required that Respondent report his conviction to the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission in writing.

8. At no time between July 31, 1997, and the present, did Respondent notify the Administrator of his conviction in writing.

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

  1. committing a criminal act, to wit, domestic battery, in violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(1), 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;

  2. failing to notify the Administrator in writing within 30 days of the entry of a judgment of conviction, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 761(a);

  3. 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

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

COUNT II
(Criminal conduct)

10. On or about February 13, 2007, Respondent got into an argument with his 17-year-old daughter, Rebecca, while at their home on Westchester Court in Aurora, Illinois.

11. Respondent squirted his daughter with a water bottle and in the ensuing struggle, when his daughter attempted to wrest the bottle from Respondent, Respondent slapped his daughter and scratched her neck.

12. Respondent's wife Teresa pulled Respondent from Rebecca and Rebecca stated that she would telephone the police. Respondent threatened to "beat the shit out of" Rebecca if she called the police. Rebecca then telephoned the police.

On February 13, 2007, after the police arrived, Rebecca signed a sworn statement attesting to the facts of the incident set forth in paragraphs 10-12 above.

14. On February 13, 2007, Aurora police officer Nancy Stefanski prepared and signed a complaint against Respondent, placed him under arrest and transported Respondent to the Aurora Police Department, where he was held overnight.

15. By the actions described in paragraphs 10 and 11, Respondent knowingly, and without legal justification, caused bodily harm to his daughter Rebecca.

16. At all times alleged in this complaint there was a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(1), which outlaws domestic battery, and 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(2), which outlaws making contact of an insulting or provoking nature.

17. On February 14, 2007, the State's Attorney of Kane County filed a two-count complaint against Respondent based upon the incident described in paragraphs 10-12 above. The matter was docketed as People of the State of Illinois v. Steven R. Robertson, No. 07 CM 746, in the Circuit Court of Kane County, Illinois. The complaint charged Respondent with committing the offense of domestic battery/bodily harm in violation of Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 720, Act 5, Section 12-3.2(a)(1), in that Respondent struck and/or scratched and/or sprayed Rebecca Robertson on or about her body, and domestic battery/physical contact in violation of Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 720, Act 5, Section 12-3.2(a)(2), in that Respondent knowingly made contact of an insulting or provoking nature in that Respondent struck and/or scratched and/or sprayed Rebecca Robertson on or about her body.

18. Rebecca Robertson declined to cooperate with the Office of the Kane County State's Attorney and on August 16, 2007, the State dismissed case number 07 CM 746 nolle prosequi as a result.

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

  1. committing a criminal act, to wit, domestic battery, in violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(1) and 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(2), 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;

  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 to bring the legal profession into disrepute, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.

COUNT III
(Neglect - Estate of Fred Scott)

20. Prior to September 1, 2004, Respondent agreed to represent Sheena Marsh in matters relating to the administration of the estate of her stepfather, Fred H. Scott.

21. On or about September 1, 2004, Respondent filed a Petition for Probate of Will and for Letters of Administration with Will Annexed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, in the matter docketed as In re the Estate of Fred H. Scott, case no. 04 P 4286. Respondent listed the approximate value of the estate as $111,000. Respondent attached an exhibit to the Petition indicating that there were eight living heirs and that the addresses for two of those heirs were unknown.

22. Between September 1, 2004, and January 4, 2006, Respondent and Marsh, in her capacity as independent representative of the Estate of Fred Scott, sold Scott's real estate, filed an order declaring heirship limiting the heirs to Scott's six sisters, satisfied the claims of creditors and disbursed the funds to the heirs.

23. In February 2005, at the closing of the sale of Scott's real estate, Respondent received $1,950 to serve as his total legal fees for his representation of Marsh.

24. At all times alleged in this complaint, 755 ILCS 5/28-11(b) required that a verified report be filed with the probate court to conclude a probate matter.

25. At no time did Respondent file a verified report in the Estate of Fred Scott.

26. In or about February 2005, at the direction of Respondent, Marsh obtained a surety bond in connection with the sale of Scott's real estate as described in Paragraph 22 above. Between 2005 and 2007, DiDomenico Agency, the insurance agency that issued the surety insurance coverage, mailed the surety bond premium statements to Respondent. Respondent received the statements, but neither paid the invoice nor advised Marsh of his receipt of the statements.

27. On or about May 17, 2007, DiDomenico Agency filed a complaint against Marsh demanding payment for the prior two years for the surety bond relating to Scott's real estate in a case captioned Deedee's of Illinois, Inc., an Illinois corporation d/b/a DiDomenico Agency v. Sheena Bradley Marsh, 07-M1-149405, in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

28. In or about July 2007, Marsh paid DiDomenico Agency $2,087, the amount owed for the surety bond.

29. Between July 2007 and March 2009, Marsh called Respondent on at least three occasions to inquire about the status of the estate. On each occasion Marsh left a message advising Respondent that she would have to continue to pay the surety bond until the estate was closed, and requesting that Respondent call her. Respondent received the messages, but he did not return Marsh's telephone calls.

30. As of July 8, 2009, the date a panel of the Inquiry Board voted that a complaint be filed in this matter, Respondent had not filed the verified report or concluded the administration of the Estate of Fred Scott. Marsh has continued to pay the for the surety bond every year.

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

  1. failure to provide competent representation in representing a client in violation Rule 1.1 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client in violation of Rule 1.3 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  3. failure to keep a client reasonably informed as to the status of a matter or comply with reasonable requests for information in violation of Rule 1.4(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

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

  5. conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the 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 the Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601-6219
Telephone: (312) 565-2600
Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:   Marita C. Sullivan