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

In the Matter of:

RON L. RICHARDS II,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No. 6284474.

 

Commission No.  2010PR00095 

 

 JOINT STIPULATION AND RECOMMENDATION FOR
A REPRIMAND BY THE HEARING BOARD

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Tracy L. Kepler, and Ron L. Richards II, Respondent, jointly stipulate that Respondent violated Rules 4.4(a), 8.4(a)(3) and 8.4(a)(5) of the 1990 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct and, as discipline, recommend that he be administered a reprimand by the Hearing Board and be required to attend the ARDC Professionalism Seminar within one year of the entry of the Hearing Board's order, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 770(h) and Commission Rule 282.  The Administrator and Respondent stipulate as follows:

Stipulated Findings of Fact

1. The Administrator and Respondent jointly stipulate that the evidence would establish the following facts:  During the course of Respondent's representation of Anthony Funderburk ("Anthony") in his domestic relations matter, Respondent had knowledge of an emergency order of protection against Anthony which prohibited his or any 3rd party contact with his wife, Karen Funderburk ("Karen").  On September 3, 2009, after Respondent received a call from Anthony requesting that Respondent drive by the martial residence to determine whether

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Karen was moving Anthony's belongings from the home, Respondent arrived at the martial residence, parked his car so that it blocked two other cars in the driveway, took pictures of Karen's actions to be used as evidence at the hearing on the order of protection scheduled for September 4, 2009, and refused to leave the marital residence after a request made by Karen and her friend, Bonnie Gardner.  After the police were called, Respondent was arrested, and on September 18, 2009, the Lake County State's Attorney charged Respondent with one count of Criminal Trespass - Remain on Land, a Class B misdemeanor, in violation of 720 ILCS 5/21-3(A)(3).  On January 15, 2010, pursuant to a negotiated plea of guilty, the Court sentenced Respondent to a six moth period of supervision and payment of fines and costs.

2. In connection with the representation of Anthony, Respondent continued to represent Anthony in his domestic relations and dissolution of marriage matter following a September 9, 2009 court order directing Respondent to withdraw his participation as counsel due to the possible conflict of interest.

Factors in Mitigation

3. At the time of the misconduct, Respondent had only been licensed to practice law in Illinois for five years.  Respondent has no prior disciplinary history and has fully cooperated with the Administrator during the course of these proceedings.  Respondent's judgment was influenced by his personal friendship with his client and the misconduct was not motivated by dishonest motive or personal gain.  Respondent understands the seriousness of his misconduct and has expressed remorse and has successfully completed the period of supervision and paid all court costs and fines.

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4. In 2002, Respondent left a lucrative career as an operations manager at a multi-national corporation to enter the practice of law.  Since 2005, he has devoted his solo practice to criminal defense, primarily serving indigent clients on a pro bono or sliding scale basis.

5. If this matter proceeded to a hearing, a lawyer, law professor and several clients would testify to Respondent's excellent reputation for truth and veracity.

Recommended Discipline and Legal Discussion

6. The Administrator and Respondent agree and jointly recommend that a reprimand be administered by the Hearing Board pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 770(h) and Commission Rule 282, as the appropriate discipline in this matter.

7. In In re Berkel, 97 SH 115 (reprimand delivered March 24, 1999), the attorney, a young county prosecutor, improperly tried to gather information for use in a friend's contemplated divorce hearing by sending a letter on State's Attorney letterhead to the Secretary of State falsely stating that the office was investigating the friend's husband.  The attorney also called the Madison County recorder's office for information without disclosing that the request was not related to official duties.  Like the instant matter, the attorney's judgment was influenced by the personal relationship with the client and both were new attorneys at the time of the misconduct.

8. Further, in other matters where the Hearing Board has reprimanded a Respondent, it has added the requirement of completion of the ARDC Professionalism Seminar to benefit the attorney and to help ensure that the attorney will avoid unprofessional conduct in the future.  See, e.g., In re Braun, 09 CH 34 (Dec. 4, 2009); In re Hoffman, 07 CH 88 (Aug. 21, 2008); In re Voci, 06 CH 53 (Feb. 19, 2008).

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9. Under the circumstances of this case, a reprimand and the requirement to attend the ARDC Professionalism Seminar within one year of the entry of the Hearing Board's order is consistent with prior hearing panel decisions and is appropriate under the facts and circumstances of this case.

WHEREFORE, the Administrator and Respondent jointly recommend that the Hearing Board issue a reprimand, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 770(h) and Commission Rule 282.                                                                                                                            

Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:  Tracy L. Kepler
Counsel for the Administrator
130 E. Randolph Dr., Suite 1500
Chicago, IL  60601
Telephone: (312) 565-2600

 

Ron L. Richards II



By: Ron L. Richards II
Respondent
Law Office of Ron L. Richards
103 N. Milwaukee Ave., Ste B21
L
ake Villa, IL  60046-8905
Telephone: (847) 707-0383

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

In the Matter of:

RON L. RICHARDS II,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No. 6284474.

 

Commission No.  2010PR00095 

FILED -  January 10, 2011

REPRIMAND

Based upon the agreement and stipulations of the parties, the panel of the Hearing Board hereby makes findings, and reprimands and admonishes you, Ron L. Richards II, as follows:

1. During the course of your representation of Anthony Funderburk in his domestic relations matter, you knew that the Court had entered an emergency order of protection against your client which prohibited his, or any 3rd party, contact with his wife, Karen Funderburk. However, on September 3, 2009, after receiving a call from your client requesting that you drive by the martial residence to determine whether Karen was moving your client's belongings from the home, you drove to the martial residence, parked your car in front of the driveway, blocked the exit for two other cars, took pictures of Karen's actions to be used as evidence at the hearing on the order of protection scheduled for September 4, 2009, and refused to leave the marital residence after a request made by Karen Funderburk and her friend, Bonnie Gardner. After the police were called, you were arrested, and on September 18, 2009, you were charged with one count of Criminal Trespass - Remain on Land. On January 15, 2010, pursuant to a negotiated plea of guilty, the Court sentenced you to a six-month period of supervision and payment of fines and costs. Further, in connection with the representation of Anthony Funderburk, you continued to represent him in his domestic relations and dissolution of marriage matter following a September 9, 2009 court order directing you to withdraw your participation as counsel due to a

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possible conflict of interest. In so doing, you used methods of obtaining evidence that violated the legal rights of another person in violation of Rule 4.4(a), engaged in criminal conduct in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the 1990 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.

2. In determining that a reprimand is an appropriate sanction in this case, we have considered the nature of your misconduct, your age and legal experience, that you were not motivated by personal gain, that your judgment appears to have been influenced by your friendship with your client. You have successfully completed your period of supervision and have paid all costs and fines imposed, and you have expressed remorse for your actions. We also have considered your record of pro bono service and that there would be testimony of your excellent character and reputation for truth and veracity.

WHEREFORE, Ron L. Richards II, you are hereby REPRIMANDED and are required to attend the ARDC Professionalism Seminar within one year of the entry of the Hearing Board's order. You are admonished not to engage in such misconduct in the future and to strictly comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct. You are further admonished that this disciplinary action is of public record and will be considered in the event of any future disciplinary proceedings relating to you.

  Kenn Brotman, Chair
of the Hearing Panel

Thomas P. Young, Member
of the Hearing Panel

Darryl H. Armstrong, Member
of the Hearing Panel