BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD

OF THE

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION

AND

DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION

In the Matter of:

ERNEST EUGENE WILEY JR.,

Attorney-Respondent,

No. 6208533.

Commission No. 2016PR00062

FILED --- June 24, 2016

 

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Gina M. Abbatemarco, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent, Ernest Eugene Wiley Jr., who was licensed to practice law in Illinois on January 7, 1992, and alleges that Respondent has engaged in the following conduct which subjects Respondent to discipline pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 770: 

ALLEGATIONS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

1. Respondent was admitted to practice law on January 7, 1992.

2. At all times alleged in this complaint, Supreme Court Rule 756(a) required that every attorney admitted to practice law in Illinois, with stated exceptions that do not apply to Respondent, register and pay an annual registration fee to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission ("the Commission") on or before the first day of January of each year. 3. At all times alleged in this complaint, Supreme Court Rule 756(h) provided that the Administrator, on or after February 1 of each year, remove from the master roll of attorneys authorized to practice law in Illinois the name of any attorney who had not registered for that year, as required by Supreme Court Rule 756(a). Rule 756(h) further stated that any person whose name was not on the master roll and who practiced law or held himself out as being authorized to practice law pursuant to an Illinois license, had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

4. Between 2003 and 2011, Respondent had not registered with the Commission by January 1st of each year in the years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2011, and had been removed from the master roll for a period of time during those years. Sometime after receiving notice from the ARDC of his removal, Respondent registered and paid whatever fees and penalties were due and was restored to active status.

5. As of March 10, 2015, Respondent had not registered with the Commission or paid the annual fee that had been due since January 1, 2015, and on that date the Administrator removed Respondent's name from the master roll of attorneys authorized to practice law pursuant to an Illinois license.

6. Shortly after March 10, 2015, the Administrator sent Respondent a notice of removal from the master roll as a result of Respondent's failure to register and pay his registration fees. Respondent received the notice shortly after it was sent.

7. At no time between March 10, 2015 and October 1, 2015 (the date Respondent registered and paid his past-due registration fees and penalties for his 2015 registration), did Respondent register and pay any past-due annual registration fees or penalties to the Commission. During that period, pursuant to Rule 756(h), Respondent was not authorized to practice law pursuant to an Illinois license or to hold himself out as so authorized.

COUNT I
(Unauthorized practice of law and dishonesty in Mahoney Home Home Health Care matter)

8. In July 2014, Respondent and Mahoney Home Health Care Services, Inc. ("Mahoney") agreed that Respondent would represent Mahoney in matters related to a breach of contract claim filed against Mahoney pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County and which was docketed as Advanced Therapy Providers, Inc., v. Mahoney Home Health Care Services, Inc., case number 14 M5 0548 ("Advanced Therapy matter"). On August 25, 2014, Respondent filed an appearance in the Advanced Therapy matter on behalf of Mahoney.

9. On May 4, 2015, approximately two months after his removal from the master roll, Respondent filed a motion to withdraw in the Advanced Therapy matter, in which he sought the court's permission to withdraw due to his client's alleged failure to cooperate with him. Respondent set the motion on the court's docket for hearing on May 13, 2015. Respondent, in his motion, did not inform the court that he was not then authorized to practice law pursuant to an Illinois license or that he could no longer represent Mahoney for that reason.

10. Respondent's statement in paragraph 9, above, that he was withdrawing due to his client's alleged failure to cooperate with him was false because Respondent was not authorized to practice law pursuant to an Illinois license, he could not continue to represent Mahoney and he had to withdraw because he was not so authorized.

11. At the time Respondent filed a motion to withdraw referred to in paragraph 9, above, he knew his statement was false because he was not authorized to practice law pursuant to an Illinois license.

12. On or about May 13, 2015, Respondent appeared in court on behalf of Mahoney in case number 14 M5 0548. At that time, Respondent participated in the hearing by, among other things, withdrawing his previously-filed motion to withdraw and informing the court, with Advanced Therapy's counsel, Arthur Data ("Data"), that the parties would engage in settlement negotiations.

13. At no time between March 11, 2015 and October 1, 2015 (the date Respondent registered and paid his past-due registration fees and penalties for his 2015 registration), did Respondent notify Mahoney, Data or the court that he was not authorized to practice law in Illinois.

14. Respondent's actions in appearing in court and failing to inform the court, Data or Mahoney that he could no longer represent Mahoney that after March 10, 2015, he was not authorized to practice law pursuant to an Illinois license and holding himself out to Mahoney as continuing to represent it in the case when Respondent knew he was not so authorized, constitutes dishonest conduct.

15. At the time Respondent represented Mahoney and appeared in court on May 13, 2015, he knew he was not authorized to practice law pursuant to an Illinois license and that he could not continue to represent Mahoney because he was not so authorized.

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

  1. failing to consult with the a client about a relevant limitation on his conduct, when he knew the client expected assistance not permitted by the Rules, by conduct including failing to tell Mahoney Home Health Care that after March 11, 2015, he could not pursue litigation and appear in court with respect to the matter due to his removal from the master roll, in violation of Rule 1.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010);

  2. practicing law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, by appearing in court and presenting pleadings in the Mahoney Home Health Care matter while his name had been removed from the roll of attorneys, and he was therefore not authorized to practice law, in violation of Rule 5.5(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010);

  3. conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, by requesting to withdraw from the case and not informing the court that the reasons for the withdrawal was that he was no longer authorized to practice law and representing to the court and opposing counsel (Arthur Data) on May 13th by appearing on behalf of participating as an attorney for Mahoney Home Health Care in the proceedings that he was authorized to practice law when Respondent knew he was not authorized to practice law and could not represent Mahoney Home Health Care, in violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010); and

  4. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, by holding himself out as authorized to practice law to the court, opposing counsel (Arthur Data) and a client when he was not so authorized, in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).

COUNT II
(Unauthorized practice of law and dishonesty in Pope divorce matter)

17. In June 2014, Respondent and Tawana Pope ("Pope") agreed that Respondent would represent Pope in matters related to her domestic relations case in which Pope had previously represented herself. At the time he agreed to represent Pope, Pope's domestic relations matter was pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County and docketed as In re the Marriage of Baker and Pope, case number 14 D 430183 ("domestic relations case"). On June 30, 2014, Respondent filed an an appearance in the domestic relations case on behalf of Pope.

18. On May 12, 2015, July 14, 2015, and August 31, 2015, (respectively two months, four months and five and one half months after his removal from the master roll), Respondent appeared in court on behalf of Pope in the domestic relations case. At that time, Respondent participated in the court hearings by, among other things, drafting court orders, presenting those orders to the court, consulting with Pope about the case and informing the court that he would conduct a phone conference with the petitioner (Baker) who was appearing pro se, and Respondent's client (Pope) to prepare a marital settlement agreement.

19. At no time between March 11, 2015 and October 1, 2015 (the date Respondent registered and paid his past-due registration fees and penalties for his 2015 registration), did Respondent notify Pope, Baker or the court that he was not authorized to practice law in Illinois pursuant to an Illinois license.

20. Respondent's actions in appearing in court, failing to inform Pope, Baker and the court that after March 10, 2015, he was not authorized to practice law pursuant to an Illinois license and holding himself out to Pope as continuing to represent her in the domestic relations case when Respondent was not so authorized, constitutes dishonest conduct.

21. At the time Respondent represented Pope in her domestic relations matter and appeared in court, he knew he was not authorized to practice law pursuant to an Illinois license and that he could not continue to represent Pope because he was not so authorized.

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

  1. failing to consult with the a client about a relevant limitation on his conduct, when he knew the client expected assistance not permitted by the Rules, by conduct including failing to tell Pope that he could not pursue litigation and appear in court with respect to the matter due to his removal from the master roll, in violation of Rule 1.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010);

  2. practicing law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, by consulting with Pope, appearing in court on May 12, 2015, July 14, 2015, and August 31, 2015 on behalf of Pope in her domestic relations case while his name had been removed from the roll of attorneys, and he was therefore not authorized to practice law, in violation of Rule 5.5(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010);

  3. conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, by knowingly representing to the court on May 12, 2015, July 14, 2015, and August 31, 2015, through his appearing in court on behalf of Pope, and stating to the court he would conduct a phone conference with the parties to prepare a marital settlement agreement, that he was authorized to practice law when Respondent knew he was not authorized to practice law and could not represent Pope or conduct a conference or work on a marital settlement agreement, in violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010); and

  4. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, by holding himself out as authorized to practice law to the court, opposing party (Baker) and a client when he was not so authorized, in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).

COUNT III
(Unauthorized practice of law and dishonesty in Brandon estate matter)

23. On August 1, 2015, Respondent agreed to represent Toyia O'Quinn ("O'Quinn") in matters related to a pending probate estate matter in the Circuit Court of Cook County and docketed as In re James and Clara Brandon, consolidated case numbers 15 P 4501 and 15 P 4502 ("Brandon matter"). O'Quinn was the Brandons' niece and was in possession of the Brandons' automobile.

24. At the time Respondent agreed to represent O'Quinn, the court had appointed Cook County Public Guardian Alison Tobias ("Tobias") to serve as the temporary guardian of the estate and person for James and Clara Brandon.

25. Between August 1, 2015 and August 11, 2015, Respondent engaged in at least one telephone discussion with Tobias regarding O'Quinn turning over the Brandons' automobile to the estate and for the estate to reimburse O'Quinn for expenses she had incurred for the Brandons' benefit. During those discussions, Respondent told Tobias that he was acting as O'Quinn's attorney and that he was providing legal advice to O'Quinn regarding the Brandon matter.

26. On August 11, 2015, Respondent sent Tobias a letter regarding their discussions described in paragraph 25, above. In his letter to Tobias, Respondent stated in the letterhead that he was an "attorney at law." Respondent also stated that he represented O'Quinn and that he had been "counseling" and "advising" her with respect to the Brandon matter.

27. At no time between March 11, 2015 and October 1, 2015 (the date Respondent registered and paid his past-due registration fees and penalties for his 2015 registration), did Respondent notify Tobias or O'Quinn that he was not authorized to practice law in Illinois pursuant to an Illinois license.

28. Respondent's actions in failing to inform O'Quinn and Tobias that after March 10, 2015, he was not authorized to practice law pursuant to an Illinois license, his statements to Tobias set forth in paragraphs 25 and 26 above, and holding himself out to O'Quinn as continuing to represent her in the Brandon matter when Respondent was not so authorized, constitutes dishonest conduct.

29. At the time he made the statements to Tobias set forth in paragraphs 25 and 26, above, Respondent knew he was not authorized to practice law pursuant to an Illinois license and that he could not represent O'Quinn because he was not so authorized.

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

  1. failing to consult with the a client about a relevant limitation on his conduct, when he knew the client expected assistance not permitted by the Rules, by conduct including failing to tell O'Quinn that he could not provide legal advice to her in the Brandon matter due to his removal from the master roll, in violation of Rule 1.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010);

  2. practicing law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, by providing legal advice to O'Quinn and holding himself out to Tobias as representing O'Quinn while his name had been removed from the roll of attorneys, and he was therefore not authorized to practice law, in violation of Rule 5.5(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010);

  3. conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, by knowingly providing legal advice to O'Quinn and holding himself out to Tobias as representing O'Quinn, engaging in negotiations surrounding the Brandons' automobile and reimbursement of expenses and stating that he was authorized to practice law when Respondent knew he was not authorized to practice law and could not represent O'Quinn, in violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010); and

  4. conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, by holding himself out as authorized to practice law to Tobias and a client when he was not so authorized, in violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).

WHEREFORE, the Administrator requests that this matter be referred to a panel of the Hearing Board of the Commission, that a hearing be conducted, and that the Hearing Panel make findings of fact, conclusions of fact and law, and a recommendation for such discipline as is warranted.

Gina M. Abbatemarco
Counsel for the Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Telephone: (312) 565-2600
GAbbatemarco@iardc.org

Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:  Gina M. Abbatemarco