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

In the Matter of:

SAMUEL J. CAHNMANN,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No. 3121596.

 

Commission No.  2009PR00118

FILED -  December 8, 2009

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorneys, Deborah Barnes and Gary S. Rapaport, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent, Samuel J. Cahnmann, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on November 3, 1978, 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
(False statement to a tribunal)

1. On October 19, 2007, David Samuel contacted Respondent and asked him to represent Samuel in an effort to ask the court hearing child support matters in his divorce case to consider a motion to reduce child support that had been filed on January 8, 2004 by his previous attorney. Samuel told Respondent that after his previous attorney withdrew from the case, Samuel had scheduled the motion himself for a hearing before Judge Charles Gramlich on March 1, 2007, by talking to the court's receptionist. He further told Respondent that the attorney for his ex-wife had canceled the hearing, and that on September 17, 2007, he had asked the court to hear the matter, but that the court told him that proper notice had not been given, and that he needed to follow appropriate rules to set the matter for hearing.

2. On October 19, 2007, Respondent told Samuel that he would investigate the matter and call Samuel back.

3. On a date between October 19, 2007 and November 1, 2007, Respondent went to the desk of Shirley Vinson, the receptionist/secretary for Judge Gramlich and other judges whose offices were located on the fifth floor of the Sangamon County Building. Her desk sat in an anteroom outside the judges' chambers; the anteroom is not generally accessible to the public. Access is gained to the anteroom either by buzzing a door to be admitted from the hallway, or by going through doors located behind the bench in the courtrooms on the fifth floor.

4. Vinson was not present when Respondent approached her desk. He looked at Judge Gramlich's calendar, which Vinson kept on top of her desk. The calendar was not a public document. Vinson kept Judge Gramlich's personal appointments as well as court matters on the calendar.

5. Respondent paged through the calendar to the page dated March 1, 2007. Respondent saw that the page reflected an entry at the 11:45 a.m. time slot written as "93D554 - Samuel." The written entry had a line drawn through it.

6. Respondent picked up the calendar, went to the copier located several feet behind Vinson's desk, and made a copy of the March 1, 2007 calendar page. He then returned the calendar to the top of Vinson's desk.

7. On November 1, 2007, Respondent told Samuel he would represent him.

8. On July 11, 2008, Respondent filed a "Motion to Vacate or Modify Non-Final Orders Entered February 7, 2007 and September 17, 2007." The motion alleged that the orders related to the child support arrearage should be vacated, inter alia, because Samuel had scheduled a hearing on the matter pursuant to the judge's instructions and opposing counsel had canceled the date. In an effort to prove that his client had scheduled the hearing, Respondent attached a copy of the March 1, 2007 calendar page as an exhibit to his motion.

9. On July 17, 2008, Respondent appeared before Judge Gramlich on behalf of Samuel to argue the motion he had filed on July 11, 2008.

10. Judge Gramlich asked Respondent where he had obtained a copy of Judge Gramlich's personal calendar. Respondent told Judge Gramlich that Vinson had given him a copy of the March 1, 2007 calendar page.

11. Respondent's statement that Vinson had given him the copy of the calendar page was false.

12. Respondent knew that his statement to Judge Gramlich, described in paragraph 10, was false. At no time did Vinson give Respondent a copy of Judge Gramlich's personal calendar.

13. On August 15, 2008, following a hearing, Judge Gramlich found Respondent in contempt of court and fined him $100, finding that Respondent lied to the court about how he had obtained a copy of the page from the judge's personal calendar.

14. On September 16, 2009, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the finding of contempt.

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

  1. appearing in a professional capacity before a tribunal and making a statement of material fact which the lawyer knows is false, in violation of Rule 3.3(a)(1) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

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

  3. 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. 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
(Solicitation of a sexual act)

16. On August 9, 2009, Springfield police officers Jennifer Howard and Rikki Castles were assigned to an undercover drug and prostitution detail in the Springfield downtown area.

17. At approximately 1:30 a.m. on that date, Howard and Castles were in a bar called "Oasis," located at 411 E. Washington in Springfield. Respondent also was there.

18. Respondent introduced himself by name to Howard and Castles and told them that he was a lawyer and an alderman for the City of Springfield. He gave them a piece of notepaper that had "Sam Cahnman [sic] - Alderman" printed on it.

19. Howard asked Respondent if he knew where she and Castles could "score some powder," and Respondent told her he did not do illegal drugs.

20. Respondent told Howard that he lived nearby and that he had beer and wine at his apartment. He suggested that the three could have a drink at his apartment.

21. Howard told Respondent that when she and Castles visited Springfield, they came to "make money." She asked if they could "make money" at his apartment.

22. Respondent asked Howard what the two women would do to "make money." Howard told him that she and Castles would give him a "blow job" for $40 each. Respondent agreed to pay them for the sexual acts.

23. Howard and Castles told Respondent that they had to leave the Oasis to go to another bar called "Catch 22" and meet Castles' sister, and that they would return to the Oasis with Castles' sister.

24. Respondent told Castles that he would also pay her sister $40 for oral sex, if all three women met him at his apartment.

25. Castles remarked that paying all three of the women would cost him $120. Respondent told Castles and Howard that he had enough money to pay all three women. He took a roll of bills out of his pocket and displayed it to Howard and Castles.

26. Respondent wrote his telephone number on the piece of the notepaper he had previously given Howard. The two officers then left the Oasis. As they left, Respondent followed them and reached for Howard's cell phone. He told her he wanted to call his cell phone with her phone so that he would have her phone number. Howard declined to give him her cell phone.

27. Respondent asked to accompany Howard and Castles to Catch 22. Howard asked him not to accompany them.

28. After Howard and Castles left the Oasis, Springfield Police Sgt. Matt Fricke placed Respondent under arrest for solicitation of a sexual act.

29. Section 5/11-14.1(a) of the Illinois Criminal Code, titled "solicitation of a sexual act," prohibits any person from offering a person not his or her spouse money to perform fellatio or any touching or fondling of the sex organs for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.

30. On August 10, 2009, the Sangamon County State's Attorney charged Respondent in a criminal complaint with violating 720 ILCS 5/11-14.1(a). The matter was docketed as People v. Samuel J. Cahnman [sic], No. 09 CM 1240.

31. 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, to wit, solicitation of a sexual act, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

  2. 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
(Conduct which brings the legal profession into disrepute)

32. In November, 2002, Respondent represented Stephany Miller in a domestic relations matter related to visitation of her son. Miller was being held in the Sangamon County Correctional Facility as "Stephany Whicker" on drug charges docketed as People v. Stephany Whicker, No. 01 CF 203 (Sangamon County).

33. On November 6, 2002, Respondent entered the Sangamon County Correctional Facility and asked to meet with Miller.

34. Standard operating procedures in the Sangamon County Correctional Facility required all visitors to sign a log-in book at the control room and identify the purpose of the visit in the log-in book. Friends and family members were required to speak to inmates via telephone in a visitation booth which had a glass barrier preventing personal contact. Attorneys representing inmates were permitted to meet their clients in interview rooms, which did not have such barriers.

35. At all times relevant to this complaint, Respondent knew of the jail procedures described in paragraph 34.

36. On November 6, 2002, Correctional Officer Wendy Smysor operated the control room at the Sangamon County Correctional Facility. She asked Respondent to sign the log-in book. Respondent signed the log sheet as "atty."

37. Correctional Officer Melissa Pettus escorted Miller to an interview room. Respondent insisted to Pettus that the door to the interview room be closed, telling her that leaving the door open would violate the attorney-client privilege. Pettus, after consulting with supervisors, complied with the request and closed the door to the interview room.

38. Correctional Officer Jay Hawks entered an observation room which was adjacent to the interview room; the observation room permitted a person standing in it to view the occupants of the adjacent interview room through a two-way glass partition.

39. In the interview room, Respondent began kissing and embracing Miller. At one point he rubbed her back, and at another point he grasped her buttocks.

40. Hawks observed the above-described behavior from the observation room. As the intimate behavior continued, Correctional Corporal Tammy Powell entered the observation room. When she observed the conduct between Respondent and Miller, she entered the interview room and told Respondent that the visit was over.

41. Respondent used his status as Miller's attorney to obtain access to Miller for the purpose of having personal physical contact with her.

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

  1. 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

  2. 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 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.

Deborah Barnes
Gary S. Rapaport
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission
One North Old Capitol Plaza, Suite 333
Springfield, Illinois 62701
Telephone: (217) 522-6838
Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:  Deborah Barnes
Counsel for the Administrator