BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
In the Matter of:
Commission No. 2009PR000119
FILED - December 11, 2009
Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Gary S. Rapaport, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent, Judith Anne Toohill, who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois on May 20, 1975, 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:
Communications with party represented by counsel and misrepresentation.
1. In Fulton County, Illinois, the Spoon River formed the boundary line between a parcel of land owned by the Chatterton Family Trust ("the Chatterton Trust") on the west side of the river and adjoining parcels of land owned by the Estate of Wilhelmina E. Morey and the Wilhelmina E. Morey Testamentary Trust (collectively "the Morey Estate") and the N. Grace Johnson Trust ("the Johnson Trust") on the east side of the river.
2. As of 2005, the above-described portion of the Spoon River had shifted its channel eastward.
3. As a result of the Spoon River shifting its course, a dispute arose as to the boundary line between the property of the Chatterton Trust and the properties of the Morey Estate and the Johnson Trust. In or about October, 2005, Respondent agreed with Marilyn G. Riley, who was the executor and the trustee for the testamentary trust of the Morey Estate, and Judith A. Montgomery, who was the trustee for the Johnson Trust, to jointly represent the Morey Estate and the Johnson Trust in attempting to resolve the dispute. At or about that time, Respondent learned that attorney Andrewe W. Johnson represented the Chatterton Trust and its trustees, including Greg Chatterton, in the matter.
4. On November 18, 2005, Respondent sent a letter on the subject of the boundary line issue to Greg Chatterton at his home address. In the letter, Respondent proposed changes to the legal description of the Chatterton Trust's parcel, and she enclosed a survey and other material. Respondent also sent a copy of the letter to Johnson.
5. At no time did Respondent obtain the prior consent of Johnson to communicate with Greg Chatterton or any trustee of the Chatterton Family Trust on the subject of the boundary line issue.
6. On November 22, 2005, after he received the copy of Respondent's above-described letter, Johnson sent a letter to Respondent. Respondent received the letter shortly after it was sent. In the letter, Johnson directed Respondent's attention to Rule 4.2 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct and instructed her not to "ever again contact one of my clients directly with regard to a matter upon which I represent themů.You do not have my permission to contact my clients directly."
7. As of September 12, 2008, the boundary line dispute had not been resolved. On that date, Respondent faxed a letter to Johnson in which she outlined a proposed settlement and options.
8. On September 12, 2008, after receiving Respondent's fax, Johnson telephoned Respondent's office. Johnson left a message in which he requested that Respondent send him the plat and the surveyor's invoice, which were items that Respondent had discussed in her letter. Respondent received Johnson's message.
9. On September 18, 2008, Respondent sent Johnson the surveyor's invoice and portions of the plat.
10. On October 9, 2008, Respondent sent a two-page letter to Greg Chatterton at his home address. Respondent addressed the letter to the "Chatterton Family Trust, c/o Greg Chatterton," and she began the letter, "Dear Greg and Chatterton Trustees." In the letter, Respondent set forth details and conditions of a settlement proposal for the boundary line matter. Respondent also sent a copy of the letter to Johnson.
11. At no time had Respondent obtained Johnson's consent to communicate with Greg Chatterton prior to sending the above-described letter.
12. At the conclusion of her letter to Chatterton and the Chatterton Family Trust, Respondent wrote, "Andrewe Johnson has never responded to my earlier correspondence but as a professional courtesy, I am sending him a copy of this letter."
13. Respondent's representation that Johnson had never responded to her earlier correspondence was false. Johnson had called Respondent and requested certain documentation in response to her letter of September 12, 2008, and Respondent had provided the documentation, as set forth in paragraphs 8 and 9, above.
14. Respondent knew that her representation to Johnson's clients that Johnson had never responded to her earlier correspondence was false.
15. By reason of the conduct outlined above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:
in the course of representing a client, making a statement of material fact or law to a third person which statement the lawyer knows is false, in violation of Rule 4.1(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990);
during the course of representing a client, communicating on the subject of the representation with a party the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in that matter without the prior consent of the lawyer representing such other party, in violation of Rule 4.2 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990);
conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (1990); and
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.
|Gary S. Rapaport
Attorney Registration and
One North Old Capitol Plaza, Suite 333
Springfield, Illinois 62701
Telephone: (217) 522-6838