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

In the Matter of:

JORGE ANTONIO RODRIGUEZ,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No.  6302234.

 

Commission No.  2012PR00153

FILED -  December 3, 2012

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Scott A. Kozlov, pursuant to Supreme Court Rules 753(b) and 761, complains of Respondent, Jorge Antonio Rodriguez, who was licensed to practice law in Illinois on November 23, 2010, 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
(Misleading Advertisements)

1. At all times alleged in this complaint, Respondent was a sole practitioner operating under the auspices of an entity known as "The Law Offices of Jorge A. Rodriguez, P.C., Inc.", which was located on North Street in Mundelein. Between approximately January 2012 and April 2012, Respondent also maintained a law office at 1248 East Dundee Road in Palatine ("the Palatine office").

2. In late 2011, Respondent met Guillermo Ruiz ("Ruiz"), a Spanish speaking non-attorney, who agreed to work for Respondent as a paralegal at the Palatine law office and to assist Respondent in generating business in the Spanish-speaking community. Respondent learned that Ruiz had received a two-year degree in Peruvian law in 1978 from Instituto Superior de Administracion y Technologia in Peru, but Respondent had no reason to believe that Ruiz had received any legal training in the United States, or that Ruiz was authorized to practice law or to hold himself out as an attorney in the United States. Ruiz had not registered as a Foreign Legal Consultant authorized to provide limited services under the auspices of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 712, and Respondent did not have any reason to believe that Ruiz had done so.

3. Between approximately January 2012 and April 2012, Ruiz worked for Respondent as a paralegal at Respondent's Palatine law office.

4. In or about February 2012, Respondent placed an advertisement in Reclama, a newspaper of general circulation in the Spanish-speaking community. The advertisement was published weekly in February 2012. The advertisement stated, in part:

The Law Office of Attorney Jorge Antonio Rodriguez, PC, Inc and Associates

(Photo Omitted)                 (Photo Omitted)
Jorge Antonio Rodriguez, JD    Guillermo Ruiz, JD

Obtain Legal Advice
We Watch Over Your Rights

We Help You In these Cases:
*Immigration
*Criminal Cases Related to Immigration
*Bankruptcies
*Divorces
*DUI/Traffic Violations
*Social Security Cases

Call Us Today!!
224-600-6969

Ask for Guillermo Ruiz, JD.
1248 E. Dundee Road, Palatine, IL 60074
(emphasis added)

5. The advertisement set forth in paragraph four, above, was false and misleading where it stated that Respondent had "associates." At no time during the period in which that advertisement was published did Respondent have any attorneys in his employ.

6. The advertisement set forth in paragraph four, above, was misleading where it stated "Guillermo Ruiz, JD" in two different locations. By placing the names and photographs of Respondent and Ruiz beside each other, with the same credentials, Respondent intended the advertisement to lead others to believe that Ruiz was a licensed Illinois attorney, who had received a law degree from an accredited school in the United States. At no time had Ruiz been licensed to practice in Illinois, and at no time had he received a juris doctor degree relating to the laws of any United States jurisdiction.

7. By reason of the conduct set forth above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. making a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services that contains a material misrepresentation of fact, in violation of Rule 7.1 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. 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

  3. conduct that involves fraud, dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

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

COUNT II
(Misleading Office Sign)

8. The Administrator realleges paragraphs one through six of Count I, above.

9. Between approximately February 2012 and April 2012, Respondent had a sign on his office window at the Palatine law office which read:

Law Offices
Of
Jorge A. Rodriguez
 

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Attorney at Law

Guillermo Ruiz, JD

(emphasis added)

10. The office sign set forth in paragraph nine, above, was false and misleading where it stated that Ruiz was an "Attorney at Law" and held Ruiz out as having receiving a juris doctor degree. At no time during the period that the sign was displayed had Ruiz been licensed to practice in Illinois, and at no time had he received a juris doctor degree relating to the laws of any United States jurisdiction.

11. By reason of the conduct set forth above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. making a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services that contains a material misrepresentation of fact, in violation of Rule 7.1 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. 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

  3. conduct that involves fraud, dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

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

COUNT III
(Criminal conviction in Virginia for violation of an order of protection)

12. At all times alleged in this complaint, Virginia law, at VA ST section 16.1-279.1, provided, in part, that it is a misdemeanor for any person to knowingly violate a condition of an order of protection.

13. On December 10, 2010, Monika Rodriguez ("Monika"), Respondent's wife, obtained a plenary order of protection against Respondent in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for the City of Alexandria, Virginia, case number JA018259. That order of protection required Respondent to avoid contact with Monika.

14. On February 6, 2011, Monika filed a criminal complaint against Respondent in the Commonwealth of Virginia for the alleged violation of the order of protection issued December 10, 2010. Monika alleged that between February 1, 2011, and February 6, 2011, Respondent had contacted her once by electronic mail and several times by telephone. Her complaint further stated, "…I am afraid of him coming and taking my son out of state and attempting to visit me." The clerk of the Virginia court then docketed the matter as case number A-18259-02-00.

15. On May 27, 2011, following a bench trial, the court in case number A-18259-02-00 found Respondent guilty of one misdemeanor court of violating an order of protection. The court then sentenced Respondent to 30 days in jail, with 29 days stayed, by a one-year period of probation, and fines and costs totaling $91.

16. At all times alleged in this complaint, Illinois Supreme Court Rule 761(a) required Respondent to report any misdemeanor convictions to the Administrator within 30 days of the entry of the judgment of conviction.

17. At no time prior to June 23, 2011, did Respondent report to the Administrator his May 27, 2011 convictions in Alexandria, Virginia in case number A-18259-02-00.

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

  1. failure to report a conviction to the Administrator within 30 days of the entry of the judgment of conviction, in violation of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 761(a);

  2. 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;

  3. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(d) 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.

COUNT IV
(Criminal conviction for Possession of Marijuana)

19. At all times alleged in this complaint, United States federal law, at 41 CFR 102-74.400, provided:

Except in cases where the drug is being used as prescribed for a patient by a licensed physician, all persons entering in or on Federal property are prohibited from—

(a) Being under the influence, using or possessing any narcotic drugs, hallucinogens, marijuana, barbiturates, or amphetamines; or

(b) Operating a motor vehicle on the property while under the influence of alcoholic beverages, narcotic drugs, hallucinogens, marijuana, barbiturates, or amphetamines.

20. On February 7, 2011, Respondent entered a federal building at 101 W. Congress in Chicago to handle an immigration matter. At that time, he submitted to a routine security search to enter the facility and had in his possession two grams of marijuana. Federal Protective Service officers discovered that Respondent had the marijuana and detained him. The officers then cited Respondent with violation of 41 CFR 102-74.400 and released him. The matter of Respondent's violation of 41 CFR 102-74.400 was docketed by the Clerk of Court for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois as case number H5036487.

21. On May 9, 2011, Respondent pled guilty to violation of 41 CFR 102-74.400 in case number H5036487, and Magistrate Sidney Schenkier sentenced him to a fine of $175, plus payment of $25 in court costs.

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;

  2. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and

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

Count V
(Misrepresentation to the Administrator)

23. On September 19, 2012, Respondent appeared at the Chicago office of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission pursuant to subpoena for his sworn statement in connection with the Administrator's investigation into his conviction for violation of an order of protection in Virginia, as referenced in Count III, above.

24. At that time, while testifying under oath, Respondent was asked the following questions and gave the following answers:

Question: *** [H]ave you had any other criminal actions pending against you at any time?

Answer: I've had traffic violations.

Question: In addition to the traffic violations, anything else?

Answer: I had -- back in -- it was in February. I want to say, of 2011 for disobeying the sign in a government building.

Question: A sign prohibiting what?

Answer: Prohibiting possession of -- it was a pocketknife, but that was - I paid a fine.

* * *

Question: And how did that happen to occur? Tell me the circumstances of the arrest or the offense.

Answer: I went into a building, and I had a little pocketknife in my --

Question: What building?

Answer: The Immigration one on - it's on Congress.

25. Respondent's statement that he had been cited in February 2011 for entering a federal building with a pocketknife, as described in paragraph 24, above, was false and Respondent knew that it was false. Respondent had not been cited for possession of a pocketknife, but he had been cited for possession of marijuana. Respondent misled the Administrator because he feared that the Administrator would view Respondent's possession of a controlled substance as more serious than possession of a pocketknife.

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

  1. making a statement of material fact known by the lawyer to be false, in connection with a lawyer disciplinary matter, in violation of Rule 8.1(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

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

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

WHEREFORE, the Administrator respectfully 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.

Scott A. Kozlov
Counsel for the Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Telephone: (312) 565-2600
Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:  Scott A. Kozlov