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

In the Matter of:

J. W. PIERCEALL,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No. 6275700.

 

Commission No. 2012PR00032

FILED - April 24, 2012

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Sharon D. Opryszek, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent, J. W. Pierceall, who was licensed to practice law in Illinois on November 8, 2001, 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 and which subjects Respondent to discipline pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 770:

COUNT I

(Criminal Conduct - violation of 720 ILCS 5/33-3)

1. Between January 20, 2011 and January 9, 2012, Respondent was employed as an Assistant State's Attorney with the Christian County State's Attorney's Office located in Taylorville, Illinois.

2. Illinois statutes define "public employee" as "a person, other than a public officer, who is authorized to perform any official function on behalf of, and is paid by, the State or any of its political subdivisions". 720 ILCS 5/2-17.

3. At all times during his employment with the Christian County State's Attorney's Office, Respondent was a "public employee" as defined by 720 ILCS 5/2-17. 4. At all time alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a statute in Illinois, 725 ILCS 5/110-5(a), which described factors to be considered by the court in determining the amount of bail and conditions of release of defendants.

5. At all time alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a criminal statute in Illinois, 720 ILCS 5/33-3(b), which provided that a public officer or employee who, when in his official capacity, knowingly performs an act which he knows he is forbidden by law to perform, that public officer or employee commits official misconduct.

6. At all time alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a statute in Illinois, 730 ILCS 5/5-1-19, which defined "sentence" as "the disposition imposed by the court on a convicted defendant".

7. At all time alleged in this complaint, there was in effect a statute in Illinois, 730 ILCS 5/5-7-1(a), which defined a "sentence of periodic imprisonment" as "a sentence of imprisonment during which the committed person may be released for periods of time during the day or night or for periods of days, or both committed to any county, municipal, or regional correctional or detention institution or facility in this State for such periods of time as the court may direct. Unless the court orders otherwise, the particular times and conditions of release shall be determined by the Department of Corrections, the sheriff, or the Superintendent of the house of corrections, who is administering the program."

8. In his position as an Assistant State's Attorney in Christian County, Respondent's duties included intermittent weekend assignment as the "on call prosecutor".

9. One of the responsibilities of the Christian County "on call prosecutor" was to respond to calls from Christian County Correctional Officers in regard to the Officers' requests to determine bail for new detainees and to address issues related to current Christian County jail inmates.

10. Pursuant to the weekend bail-setting policy of the Christian County State's Attorney's Office, the "on call prosecutor" would receive a call or page from the Christian County Correctional Officers; the Officers would advise the "on call prosecutor" of an individual arrestee's name, criminal charge and facts of the offense; the "on call prosecutor" would contact the "on call Judge", advise him of the arrestee's name, criminal charge and facts of the offense; the "on call Judge" would set bail and condition and any conditions of bail; the "on call prosecutor" would notify the correctional officer of the bail and any conditions of bail as ordered by the "on call Judge".

11. On March 18, 2011, Respondent was on duty as the Christian County "on call prosecutor" and was contacted, via telephone, by Christian County Correctional Officer Hogan. Officer Hogan advised Respondent that periodic imprisonment inmate R.F. appeared to have overdosed on medication. Respondent directed Officer Hogan to release R.F. from his sentence of periodic imprisonment, without consulting with a Judge to modify the existing sentencing order.

12. On May 6, 2011, Respondent was on duty as the Christian County "on call prosecutor" and was contacted, via telephone, by Christian County Correctional Officer Tucker. Officer Tucker advised Respondent that periodic imprisonment inmate D.O. had recent oral surgery. Respondent ordered Officer Tucker to release D.O. from his sentence of periodic imprisonment, without consulting with a Judge to modify the existing sentencing order.

13. On May 8, 2011, Respondent was on duty as the Christian County "on call prosecutor" and was contacted, via telephone, by Christian County Correctional Officer Tucker and advised that bail needed to be set on two individuals arrested and charged with domestic battery, J.T. and R.C., who had been arrested on Friday, May 6, 2011.

14. Without contacting a Judge or other judicial officer, Respondent told the Officer that bail had been set at $1000.00 with 10% down, and a special condition of no contact, for both arrestees J.T. and R.C.

15. On December 23, 2011, Respondent was on duty as the Christian County "on call prosecutor" and was contacted, via telephone, by Christian County Correctional Officer Bedinger. Officer Bedinger advised Respondent that periodic imprisonment inmate K.H. appeared ill. Respondent ordered Officer Bedinger to release K.H. from his sentence of periodic imprisonment, without consulting with a Judge to modify the existing sentencing order.

16. On January 8, 2012, Respondent was on duty as the Christian County "on call prosecutor" and was contacted, via telephone, by Christian County Correctional Officer McAvoy. Officer McAvoy advised Respondent that periodic imprisonment inmate D.C. had suffered a seizure and been taken to a hospital. The Officer further advised Respondent that bail needed to be set on two individuals arrested and charged with domestic battery, D.B. and D.T., on Friday, January 7, 2012.

17. Without contacting a Judge, Respondent ordered Officer McAvoy to release inmate D.C. from her sentence of periodic imprisonment, subsequent to her hospital visit, without consulting with a Judge to modify the existing sentencing order.

18. Without contacting a Judge or other judicial officer, Respondent told the Officer that bail had been set at $3000.00 with 10% down for arrestee D.T.

19. Without contacting a Judge or other judicial officer, Respondent told the Officer that bail had been set at $3000.00 with 10% down, with special conditions of bond, for arrestee D.B.

20. At all times alleged in the complaint, Respondent did not have the authority to direct that inmates be released.

21. At all times alleged in the complaint, Respondent's statements about bail were unauthorized and false.

22. 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(b) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, by setting the amount of bail and condition of release of defendants in violation of 725 ILCS 5/110-5(a), releasing defendants from their sentences of period imprisonment in violation of 730 ILCS 5/5-7-1(a) and thereby committing the offense of official misconduct in violation of 720 ILCS 5/33-3(b);

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

  3. conduct which is prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct and

  4. engaged in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.

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.

Sharon D. Opryszek
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:  Sharon D. Opryszek