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

In the Matter of:

DERON BAKER ELLIOTT,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No. 6230891.

 

Commission No.  09 CH 68

FILED -  August 19, 2009

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Robert J. Verrando, pursuant to Supreme Court Rules 753(b) and 761(d), complains of Respondent, Deron Baker Elliott, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on May 9, 1996, 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
(Criminal Conviction, assault on police officers in Morristown, NJ)

1. On February 10, 2008, while in a public park in Morristown, New Jersey, Respondent, who is Caucasian, approached three African-American women and shouted racial epithets at them. Respondent's conduct was witnessed by others in the area, who alerted police.

2. On February 10, 2008, shortly after the incident described in paragraph one, above, Morristown police officer Scott Weaver ("Officer Weaver") approached Respondent in the same park and began to question him. In response, Respondent told Officer Weaver, "I don't talk to fucking Jews" and began to walk away.

3. Officer Weaver instructed Respondent to return, and Respondent stated, "I don't talk to you fucking people," clenched his hands into fists and ran toward Officer Weaver. Officer Weaver responded by discharging pepper spray toward Respondent. Respondent then threw a cup of hot coffee at Officer Weaver, struck him, grasped his neck and attempted to throw him to the ground. When Officer Weaver broke Respondent's hold, Respondent ran away.

4. Shortly after the incidents described in paragraphs two and three, above, other police officers arrived at the park to assist officer Weaver and to arrest Respondent. Respondent attempted to strike them and to escape from their custody. When questioned by the other officers, Respondent stated of Officer Weaver, "I don't have to listen to that bald-headed Jew."

5. On February 10, 2008, after the events described in paragraphs one through four, above, the officers handcuffed Respondent, placed him under arrest and took him to their station. After arriving at the station, Respondent referred to an Asian police officer he saw there as "Detective Chinaman."

6. On April 8, 2008, a grand jury of the Superior Court of New Jersey issued an indictment charging Respondent with the criminal offense of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer in violation of New Jersey Statutes 2C:12-1b(5)(a) and resisting arrest in violation of New Jersey Statutes 2C:29-2a(3)(a). On that date, the Morris County Prosecutor's Office filed the indictment in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Morris County. The clerk of the court docketed the matter as The State of New Jersey v. Deron B. Elliott and assigned it case number 08-0337. A copy of the indictment is attached hereto as Exhibit 1.

7. Between February 10, 2008 and September 15, 2008, Respondent remained incarcerated in the Morris County jail and was represented in case number 08-0337 by a public defender.

8. On September 15, 2008, Respondent entered a plea of guilty in case number 08-0337 to a reduced charge of Simple Assault, and the Hon. Thomas Manahan, a judge of the Superior Court, entered a judgment of conviction and sentenced Respondent to the 219 days he had already served in the county jail. A copy of the judgment of conviction and sentencing is attached hereto as Exhibit 2.

9. At no time did Respondent notify the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of his conviction, as is required by Supreme Court Rule 761(a).

10. 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 in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, including adverse discriminatory treatment of others based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5);

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

  4. 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.

COUNT II
(Offensive and threatening statements to bar admissions personnel)

11. On March 20, 2009, Respondent telephoned the office of Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar ("the Board"), spoke with the Board's Deputy Director of Administration, Larie Leskera ("Leskera"), and asked Leskera to reveal his February 1996 Multistate Bar Examination ("MBE") score.

12. On March 20, 2009, during the telephone conference described in paragraph 11, above, Leskera refused to reveal Respondent's MBE score and informed him that the Board's policy was to maintain the confidentiality of such scores. Respondent argued that he was entitled to his score because his ancestors had arrived on the Mayflower. Respondent then told Leskera that he was living in Vermont and asked whether she would agree to inform Vermont bar officials of his MBE score. Leskera asked Respondent to submit a written request for the information he wanted, and Respondent terminated the call.

13. On March 23, 2009, Respondent telephoned the office of the Board, spoke with receptionist Linda Giger ("Giger"), and again asked for his MBE scores. Giger informed Respondent that the Board could not reveal his MBE score to him. In response to Giger's statement, Respondent stated "Don't give me that shit. Do you know who you're talking to?" Respondent then stated that the Board was "going to get your fucking asses sued off," that the Board was "a bunch of fucking criminals," and told Giger to "just do what you're fucking told to do." Respondent also told Giger that he was descended from the pilgrims and told her, "you don't want to mess with a pilgrim."

14. On March 23, 2009, Respondent sent a handwritten letter to Board in which he asked that his MBE score be sent to the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners. In his letter, Respondent described the Board's examination score policy as "illegal." Leskera received Respondent's letter shortly after it was sent.

15. On March 31, 2009, Respondent again telephoned Leskera and asked whether the Board had sent his MBE scores to Vermont, as he had asked in his March 23, 2009 letter. Leskera informed Respondent that she had done so, but that she had asked the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners not to reveal Respondent's scores to him. In response, Respondent stated, "I get what I want regardless of my behavior. I don't intimidate easily. It's a man's world. Sorry."

16. On April 9, 2009, sometime before 9 a.m., Respondent telephoned Martha Hicks-Robinson ("Hicks-Robinson"), Bar Admissions Administrator of the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners, and left a voice mail message in an angry tone of voice in which he stated that he was on his way to her office, that his MBE score was his property, that he had a right to it and that if Hicks-Robinson did not "hand over" the score, Respondent would call the police and have Hicks-Robinson arrested and charged with obstruction of justice and theft.

17. Respondent's statements, described in paragraph 16, above, caused Hicks-Robinson to alert her building's security service, which informed the municipal police department and requested the posting of a sheriff's deputy at Hicks-Robinson's office for the day.

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

  1. threatening to present criminal charges to obtain an advantage in a civil matter in violation of Rule 1.2(e) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice including adverse discriminatory treatment of others based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5); and

  3. 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.

COUNT III
(Offensive and threatening statements to ARDC personnel
and failure to respond to ARDC requests for information
)

19. The Administrator realleges paragraphs 11 through 17 of Count II, above.

20. On April 1, 2009, Leskera reported Respondent's abusive and threatening conduct to the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. The Administrator initiated an investigation and docketed the matter as Investigation No. 09 CI 1396.

21. On April 13, 2009, counsel for the Administrator sent Respondent a letter asking him to provide the material facts relating to his interaction with the Board. Respondent received the letter shortly after it was sent.

22. On June 9, 2009, Respondent telephoned the office of the Administrator, spoke with secretary Vicki J. Andrzejewski ("Andrzejewski") and began to criticize the Leskera and the Administrator of the ARDC. Andrzejewski asked Respondent whether he required additional time to respond to counsel's April 13, 2009 letter. In response, Respondent stated, "I plan on responding, sweetie." When Andrzejewski asked Respondent to converse in a more professional manner, he responded, "Go fuck yourself." Andrzejewski then terminated the call.

23. As of the date a complaint was voted in this matter, Respondent had not responded to counsel's April 13, 2009 letter or provided any information regarding investigation number 09 CI 1396.

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

  1. failure to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority in violation of Rule 8.1(a)(1) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

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

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

Robert J. Verrando
Counsel for the Administrator
130 East Randolph Drive, #1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Telephone: 312-565-2600
Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:   Robert J. Verrando