Filed August 16, 2017

In re Laura Lee Robinson
Attorney-Respondent

Commission No. 2016PR00126

Synopsis of Hearing Board Report and Recommendation
(August 2017)

The Administrator filed a one-count Complaint against Respondent on December 14, 2016. The Complaint charged that Respondent improperly entered into an agreement with a client that limited or purported to limit the right of the client to file or pursue any complaint before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission; and that Respondent filed with a circuit court an response to her client's motion to dismiss her as counsel in which she improperly revealed information relating to the representation without the client's informed consent.

The Hearing Board found that both charges of misconduct were proved and recommended that Respondent be suspended for thirty days, stayed in its entirety by a sixty day term of probation, with the condition that Respondent successfully complete the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Professionalism Seminar.

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

In the Matter of:

LAURA LEE ROBINSON,

Attorney-Respondent,

No. 6216755

Commission No. 2016PR00126

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE HEARING BOARD

SUMMARY OF THE REPORT

We find that the Administrator proved the misconduct charged. Specifically, we find that Respondent improperly entered into an agreement with a client that limited or purported to limit the right of the client to file or pursue a complaint before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission; and that Respondent filed with a circuit court a response to her client's motion to dismiss counsel in which she improperly revealed information relating to the representation without the client's informed consent.

After considering the nature and seriousness of the misconduct, along with the aggravating and mitigating factors, we recommend that Respondent be suspended for thirty days, stayed in its entirety by a sixty day term of probation, with the condition that Respondent successfully complete the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Professionalism Seminar.

INTRODUCTION

The hearing in this matter was held on May 9, 2017, at the Springfield offices of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, before a Panel of the Hearing Board

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consisting of Richard W. Zuckerman, Chair, Donald R. Jackson, and Ted Eilerman. Peter L. Rotskoff appeared on behalf of the Administrator. The Respondent appeared pro se.

PLEADINGS

The Administrator filed a one-count Complaint against the Respondent on December 14, 2016. The Complaint alleges that Respondent improperly entered into a written representation agreement with a client, John Quincy Adams IV, which required the client to refrain from reporting any phase of the representation to any external agency, including the ARDC. The Complaint also alleges that Respondent improperly revealed information regarding the representation without the informed consent of Adams by filing a letter in the circuit court, as a matter of public record, stating that Adams had a "horrible criminal past;" had been "arrested and/or convicted in Missouri at least fourteen times;" "wanted to bribe the court in some manner;" was "paranoid and [a] miserable con man who tries to blame everyone else for YOUR misdeeds TO WHICH YOU CONFESSED;" and was in "constant breach of the 'Non-Disclosure' provision of your contract with me."

Respondent filed an Answer to Complaint on January 12, 2017, in which she admitted many of factual allegations and that she engaged in misconduct in regard to the non-disclosure provision in the representation agreement. She denied that she improperly revealed information relating to the representation.

ALLEGED MISCONDUCT

The Complaint alleges that Respondent: 1) entered into an agreement with a client or former client limiting or purporting to limit the right of the client or former client to file or pursue any complaint before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission; and 2) revealed information relating to the representation of a client without the client's informed

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consent, in violation of Rules 8.4(h) and 1.6(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).

EVIDENCE

The Administrator presented the testimony of John Quincy Adams IV and the Respondent as an adverse witness. The Administrator's Exhibits 1 and 2 were received into evidence. (Tr. 6). The Respondent testified on her own behalf.

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

In attorney disciplinary proceedings, the Administrator has the burden of proving the charges of misconduct by clear and convincing evidence. See Supreme Court Rule 753(c)(6); In re Edmonds, 2014 IL 117696, par. 35. This standard of proof requires a high level of certainty, which is greater than a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more probably true than not true) but not as great as proof beyond a reasonable doubt. See In re D.T., 212 Ill. 2d 347, 362, 818 N.E.2d 1214 (2004); Bangaly v. Baggiani, 2014 IL App (1st) 123760, par. 206. In determining whether the burden of proof has been satisfied, the Hearing Panel is to assess the credibility and believability of the witnesses, weigh conflicting testimony, draw reasonable inferences from the evidence, and make factual findings based upon all of the evidence. See In re Howard, 188 Ill. 2d 423, 435, 721 N.E.2d 1126 (1999); In re Timpone, 208 Ill. 2d 371, 380, 804 N.E.2d 560 (2004). A Hearing Panel is not required to be "naive or impractical in appraising an attorney's conduct," or "be blind to the intent apparent from the evidence." In re Discipio, 163 Ill. 2d 515, 524, 645 N.E.2d 906 (1994); In re Holz, 125 Ill. 2d 546, 555, 533 N.E.2d 818 (1988); In re Morask, 2010PR00136, M.R. 26061 (Sept. 25, 2013) (Review Bd. at 14).

An admission in a pleading is a formal judicial admission that is binding on the party making it and dispenses with the need for any proof of that fact. Thus, when a respondent in a

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disciplinary matter admits in his or her answer some or all of the allegations in the complaint, it is unnecessary for the Administrator to present evidence to prove the allegations so admitted. See In re Walker, 2014PR00132, M.R. 28453 (Mar. 20, 2017) (Hearing Bd. at 3); In re Duebbert, 2013PR00127, M.R. 27475 (Sept. 12, 2015) (Hearing Bd. at 5).

I.    Respondent is charged with entering into an agreement with a client or former client limiting or purporting to limit the right of the client or former client to file or pursue any complaint before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission

A. Summary of Charge I

We find that the Administrator proved Respondent engaged in the above charged misconduct.

B. Admitted Facts and Evidence Considered

Answer to Complaint

The following facts were admitted by Respondent in her Answer to the Complaint.

In May 2015, Respondent and John Quincy Adams IV agreed that Respondent would represent him in certain criminal and traffic matters in Monroe County. The cases were docketed as People v. Adams, Nos. 2015 CF 52, 2015 DT 50, and 2015 TR 1255. Adams was charged with unlawful possession of less than five grams of methamphetamine, driving under the influence, and illegal transportation of alcohol.

On May 24, 2015, Respondent and Adams entered into and signed a retainer agreement. The retainer agreement was prepared and presented to Adams by Respondent. The retainer agreement included the following provision:

Client agrees to make all matters of said representation confidential between client(s), his/her agents, assigns and principals and to refrain from reporting any phase of said representation to any external agency, including but not limited to the Missouri Bar, ARDC etc.

(Adm. Ex. 1)

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On March 2, 2016, Adams wrote to the Monroe County Circuit Court and indicated he wished to terminate Respondent as his attorney in the three cases set out above. The court treated Adam's letter as a motion to dismiss counsel. On March 9, 2016, Respondent filed a response to which she attached a letter that included the statement that Adams was in "constant breach of the 'Non-Disclosure' provision of your contract with me."

Respondent also admitted in her Answer to the Complaint that she violated Rule 8.4(h) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010) by entering into an agreement with a client limiting or purporting to limit the right of the client to file or pursue any complaint before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. (Ans. at par. 8a).

We also considered the following testimony and Administrator Exhibits.

John Quincy Adams IV

Mr. Adams testified that in May 2016, he was the subject of three cases in Monroe County. He was charged with unlawful possession of less than five grams of Methamphetamine, driving under the influence, and illegal transportation of alcohol. (Case Nos. 2015 CF 52, 2015 DT 50, and 2015 TR 1255). He retained Respondent to represent him, paid her $7,500, and signed a retainer agreement with her. He identified Administrator's Exhibit 1 as the retainer agreement he and Respondent signed. (Tr. 22).

Mr. Adams was asked if it was true that he never filed a complaint against Respondent prior to filing his letter on March 2, 2016. He responded "[i]t's true because my contract stated I could not." (Tr. 38-39).

Respondent

Respondent testified that she represented John Quincy Adams IV in regard to charges against him in Monroe County, Illinois. Adams was charged with unlawful possession of less than 5 grams of Methamphetamine, driving under the influence, and illegal transportation of

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alcohol. (People v. Adams, Nos. 2015 CF 52, 2015 DT 50, 2015 TR 1255). She also filed a replevin action for the return of money seized from Adams at the time of his arrest (2015 MR 23). The replevin was successful and the money was refunded to Adams. (Tr. 50, 98, 101; Adm. Ex. 2 at 6).

Respondent said that she did a "lot of work" for Adams before she and Adams signed a retainer agreement (Adm. Ex. 1). They backdated the retainer agreement to May 24, 2015, which was when she was first contacted by Adams. (Tr. 52). She acknowledged that her retainer agreement with Adams contained a non-disclosure provision whereby Adams was to refrain from reporting any phase of the representation to any external agency, including the ARDC. (Tr. 49-50; Adm. Ex. 1. at par. 2). When she was asked by Administrator's counsel why she had included the non-disclosure provision in the retainer agreement, Respondent provided the following explanations:

I got this contract just specifically for this [Adams] case . . . [and] put this together by the time Mr. Adams was referred to me by someone that I had done a lot of stuff, favors for, his friend and employee, and it came to the situation where after [Adams] received the replevin, and I had spoken to him, and . . . I found out that he would even go and say all . . . about his case.

(Tr. 50).

The main reason was it was kind of a cry for help. I've had similar situations . . [where] I would basically do all the work for them, and most of it not compensated for, and then at the end they come, and like Mr. Adams, they'd want another attorney to get credit for it - - and then they just left.

(Tr. 51).

I believe it [the non-disclosure provision] was appropriate just in situations like - in my gut, I know it's wrong, but . . . where clients, they want all my work . . and then I hand it over to them, and then another lawyer just puts their name on it and trys to get credit, just what Mr. Adams said he was going to do to me, which he did.

(Tr. 53).

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I knew this was wrong, but it was a cry for help, because after you lose millions of dollars that I have lost where I get to the end, do all the work, file all the motions, I spend . . . no less than 100 to 200 hours on every single case, and then they had it over.

(Tr. 53).

Respondent acknowledged that, in regard to her representation of Adams, he paid her the entire fee that she had requested. (Tr. 55).

Administrator's Exhibit 1

Administrator's Exhibit 1 is a copy of a retainer agreement. At the top is the name of LAURA LEE ROBINSON. The retainer agreement is between John Quincy Adams IV, referred to as "client," and Respondent for Respondent to represent Adams as to the charges in Monroe County for a fee of $7,500. Paragraph 2 of the retainer agreement states, in part:

Client agrees to make all matters of said representation confidential between client(s), his/her agents, assigns and principals and to refrain from reporting any phase of said representation to any external agency, including but not limited to the Missouri Bar, ARDC etc.

The retainer agreement states that it was entered into on May 24, 2015, and contains the signatures of Respondent and Adams.

Administrator's Exhibit 2

Administrator's Exhibit 2 contains a copy of a letter Respondent wrote to Adams on March 2, 2016, in which she stated that Adams had agreed to refrain from reporting any phase of her representation of Adams to the ARDC and referred to Adams' "constant breach of the 'Non-Disclosure' provisions of your contract with me." (Adm. Ex. 2 at 37-38).

C. Analysis and Conclusions

The Administrator charges that Respondent violated Rule 8.4(h) by entering into a retainer agreement with her client John Quincy Adams IV that limited or purported to limit Adams' right to file or pursue a complaint before the ARDC. (Compl. at par. 8a).

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Rule 8.4(h) of the of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010) states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to "enter into an agreement with a client or former client limiting or purporting to limit the right of the client or former client to file or pursue any complaint before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission."

As set out above, Respondent prepared and entered into a retainer agreement with her client John Quincy Adams IV that expressly prohibited Adams from reporting any phase of Respondent's representation to the ARDC. The express language in the retainer agreement clearly shows that Respondent intended to prevent Adams from reporting anything regarding her representation of him to the ARDC.

Additionally, Adams' testimony showed that he believed the above provision in the retainer agreement did in fact prohibit him from filing a complaint regarding Respondent with the ARDC. Adams was asked by Respondent on cross-examination "[i]sn't it true that you never filed a complaint against me?" Adams responded "[i]t's true because my contract stated that I could not." (Tr. 38-39). Respondent's testimony also showed that she knew, and expected, the non-disclosure provision in the retainer agreement to prohibit Adams from reporting any phase of the representation to the ARDC. (Tr. 49-50). Further, Respondent accused Adams in a letter of engaging in a "constant breach of the 'Non-Disclosure' provision of your contract with me." (Adm. Ex. 2 at 38).

We find that pursuant to Rule 8.4(h) a client or former client has a "right" to file a complaint against a lawyer with the ARDC, and that a lawyer may not enter into any agreement with a client or former client that would limit such right or make the client or former client believe that he or she could not file a complaint with the ARDC.

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For example, in the following cases the respondents violated or attempted to violate Rule 8.4(h) of the 2010 Rules or Rule 1.8(h) of the 1990 Rules, which prohibited the same misconduct.

In In re Kirby, 07 CH 97, M.R. 24715 (Nov. 22, 2011), the respondent and a former client (Warren) in a bankruptcy case entered into a written settlement and release agreement in 2007. Under the terms of the agreement, respondent agreed to pay $8,784 to the bankruptcy trustee and to pay $6,000 for fees to Warren's current bankruptcy attorney. The agreement further provided that, upon the foregoing payments being made, "Warren will withdraw her complaint with the ARDC" by sending a letter to the ARDC. The Hearing Board found that respondent violated Rule 1.8(h) of the 1990 Rules which "prohibits an attorney from entering into an agreement with a client or former client limiting the right of the client or former client to file or pursue any complaint before the ARDC. (Hearing Bd. at 4-6, 16-17; Review Bd. at 6, 9-11).

In In re Travis, 91 CH 363, M.R. 10230 (Sept. 23, 1994), the respondent violated Rule 1.8(h) of the 1990 Rules. While a disciplinary matter was pending before the ARDC, respondent made restitution of $744 by check to a former client. On the back of the check was written "release/satisfaction of ARDC claim, return of retainer." (Hearing Bd. at 2-3).

In In re Kuhn, 01 CH 102, M.R. 18176 (Sept. 19, 2002), the respondent violated Rule 8.4(h) of the 2010 Rules by entering into an agreement to pay a former client $12,000 and in exchange the former client agreed to rescind the request for investigation he had filed with the ARDC. (Petition to Impose Discipline on Consent Allowed).

In In re Banks, 2011PR00008, M.R. 25136 (Mar. 19, 2012), the respondent's former client (Falbo) filed a request for investigation of respondent with the ARDC. In June 2010,

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Respondent sent Falbo a letter in which he offered to refund $1,500 of the fees paid to him "in consideration of the dropping of the matter before the ARDC Commission." Falbo did not respond to the letter. The Hearing Board pointed out that Rule 8.4(h) prohibits a lawyer from entering into an agreement with a client or former client limiting or purporting to limit the right of the client or former client to file a complaint with the ARDC. Because the respondent did not "enter into an agreement" with his former client, he did not violate Rule 8.4(h). However, the respondent did attempt to violate Rule 8.4(h) by sending the above letter and, thus, violated Rule 8.4(a) that provides that it is professional misconduct to attempt to violate any Rule of Professional Conduct. (Hearing Bd. at 9, 23). See also In re Makin, 01 CH 91, M.R. 18530 (Jan. 24, 2003).

In addition to the above, Respondent admitted in her Answer that she violated Rule 8.4(h) by entering into an agreement with a client limiting or purporting to limit the right of the client to file or pursue any complaint before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. (Ans. at par. 8a).

Based upon the above, we find the Administrator proved by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent entered into an agreement with a client or former client limiting or purporting to limit the right of the client or former client to file or pursue any complaint before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission; in violation of Rule 8.4(h) of the Illinois Rules Professional Conduct (2010)

II.    Respondent is also charged with improperly revealing information relating to the representation of a client without the client's informed consent

A. Summary of Charge II

We find that the Administrator proved Respondent engaged in the above charged misconduct.

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B. Admitted Facts and Evidence Considered

Answer to Complaint

The following facts were admitted by Respondent in her Answer to the Complaint.

In May 2015, Respondent and John Quincy Adams, IV, agreed that Respondent would represent him in certain criminal and traffic matters in Monroe County. The cases were docketed as People v. Adams, Nos. 2015 CF 52, 2015 DT 50, and 2015 TR 1255. Adams was charged with unlawful possession of less than five grams of Methamphetamine, driving under the influence, and illegal transportation of alcohol.

On March 9, 2016, Respondent filed with the Circuit Court in Monroe County, as a matter of public record, an Answer to Adams' motion to dismiss Respondent as counsel in the foregoing cases. In a two-page letter attached to her Answer Respondent stated:

that Adams had a "horrible criminal past" and a "violent criminal past;" that Adams had been "arrested and/or convicted in Missouri at least fourteen times;" that Adams "wanted to bribe the court in some manner;" that Adams was a "paranoid ingrate and miserable con man who tries to blame everyone else but yourself for YOUR misdeeds TO WHICH YOU CONFESSED;" and that Adams was in "constant breach of the 'Non-Disclosure' provisions of your contract with me."

On March 10, 2016, the court allowed Respondent to withdraw as the attorney for Adams.

We also considered the following testimony and Administrator Exhibits.

Administrator's Exhibit 2

Administrator's Exhibit 2, a certified copy of a record in the Circuit Court of Monroe County, Illinois, shows the following.

An Information charging John Q. Adams IV with Unlawful Possession of less than 5 grams of Methamphetamine, a Class 3 felony, was filed on May 27, 2015, in case number 2015 CF 52. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 4).

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On June 18, 2015, Respondent filed an entry of appearance on behalf of Adams in case no. 2015 CF 52, and in case numbers 2015DT 50 (Driving Under the Influence) and 2015TR 1255 (Illegal Transportation of Alcohol). Respondent filed a Motion for Replevin requesting the return of $3,701 that was seized from Adams at the time of his arrest on May 22, 2015. (case no. 2015 MR 23). The Motion for Replevin asserted that the money seized from Adams was derived from his legal business of Adams Slate and Tile Roofing. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 6).

On October 21, 2015, Respondent filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence and Statements on behalf of Adams. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 13). On January 6, 2016, Respondent filed a Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Motion to Suppress Evidence and Statements. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 21-25). Adams signed a "certificate" stating that he agreed to the filing of the foregoing motion to dismiss. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 22). The motion was granted on January 6, 2016. (Adm. Ex. 26).

On February 24, 2016, Respondent filed a Motion for Election of Treatment Pursuant to 20 ILCS 301/405. The motion stated that, in lieu of incarceration, Adams "elects to submit himself for evaluation and [drug] treatment to be administered by TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities)." The motion also asserted that Adams was eligible for such treatment. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 28). On the same day, the judge ordered Adams to undergo a TASC evaluation to determine eligibility for election of treatment under 20 ILCS 301/40-5. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 30).

On March 2, 2016, an order was entered requiring Adams to appear on April 14, 2016, for a plea. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 31). Also on March 2, 2016, Adams filed with the court a handwritten motion stating "I John Adams would like to fire my attorney for misrepresentation of my case, and hire different counsel." (Adm. Ex. 2 at 32). A hearing on Adams' motion to dismiss counsel was set for March 10, 2016, and notice of the hearing was sent to Respondent on March 3, 2016. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 33, 35).

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Respondent filed an Answer to Adams' motion to dismiss counsel on March 9, 2016. A letter to Adams, dated March 2, 2016, was attached to her Answer. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 36-38). On March 10, 2016, an order was entered stating that Adams' attorney was granted leave to withdraw. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 39).

On April 15, 2016, attorney Jack Strellis entered his appearance on behalf of Adams. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 41).

On August 18, 2016, Adams entered a plea of guilty to the charge of Unlawful Possession of less than 5 grams of Methamphetamine, and the other two charges against him were dismissed. Also, Adams waived TASC election and the case was set for sentencing. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 46). On October 13, 2016, Adams was placed on probation for 30 months and ordered to pay certain costs. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 48).

John Quincy Adams IV

In May 2016, he was the subject of three cases in Monroe County. He was charged with unlawful possession of less than 5 grams of methamphetamine, driving under the influence and illegal transportation of alcohol. (Case Nos. 2015 CF 52, 2015 DT 50, and 2015 TR 1255). He retained Respondent to represent him, paid her $7,500, and signed a retainer agreement with her. (Tr. 22).

Adams identified a document (Adm. Ex. 2 at 32) in which he asked the court to fire the Respondent as his attorney in the Monroe County cases. He filed it with the court on March 2, 2016. He did not send a copy of the writing to Respondent because someone in the courtroom that day told him to just take it to the clerk's office, which he did. When Adams appeared in the court on his motion to dismiss Respondent, he learned that Respondent had filed a letter (Adm. Ex. 2 at 37-38) with the court. Adams said Respondent had not discussed the filing of the letter with him before it was filed and he never agreed to her filing it. Adams was asked by

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Administrator's counsel whether he felt "betrayed by the letter," and Adams replied that he did. He explained that his attorney "was supposed to help me in my case, not make it worse." (Tr. 23-25, 27).

The DUI and illegal transportation of alcohol charges were ultimately dismissed. Adams was sentenced to 30 months probation on the possession of Methamphetamine charge. Adams paid Mr. Strellis a fee for his representation. (Tr. 25-26).

On cross-examination, Adams acknowledged he was in court with Respondent on March 2, 2016. He denied that the judge asked him why he had not gone for a TASC evaluation. After appearing in court, Adams walked downstairs in the courthouse and wrote the letter seeking to fire Respondent. (Tr. 27-30).

Adams acknowledged that by March 2, 2016, the replevin motion filed by Respondent had been granted and he had received the funds that were seized from him when was arrested. He said it was "my money that I had proof of that I worked for." (Tr. 31).

While Adams was with Respondent in court on March 2, 2016, he did not indicate to her that he was going have her dismissed as his attorney. He acknowledged he said he was going to go to Madison County and do an evaluation with his girlfriend. He said that before he knew he was not allowed to do so. (Tr. 33-37).

Adams brought up to Respondent the issue of whether he was eligible for "drug court" because "drug court" was an alternative to prison. He noted that he had a family business to run. (Tr. 42-44)

Adams acknowledged that it is his signature on a pleading entitle "Defendants Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Motion to Evidence and Statements (Adm. Ex. 2 at 72-73) and on a

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pleading entitled Defendant's Motion for Election of Treatment Pursuant to 20 ILCS 301/405. (Tr. 45; Adm. Ex. 2 at 80-81).

Respondent

Respondent testified that she began representing John Quincy Adams IV in May 2015, for charges against him in Monroe County, Illinois. Adams was charged with unlawful possession of less than 5 grams of methamphetamine, driving under the influence, and illegal transportation of alcohol. She also filed a replevin action on his behalf for the return of money seized from him at the time of his arrest (2015 MR 23). The replevin was successful and the money was refunded to Adams. (Tr. 50, 98, 101; Adm. Ex. 2 at 6).

Respondent said she did a "lot of work" for Adams and indicated she represented him well. (Tr. 52). Her replevin motion resulted in the return of the money seized from Adams at the time of his arrest. (Tr. 98, 101). She also prepared and filed a motion to suppress on behalf of Adams. While preparing the motion to suppress, she spoke with Adams for "numerous hours." (Tr. 101-102 ). The motion to suppress was ultimately withdrawn with the consent of Adams. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 22, 73).

At Adams' request, Respondent also filed a motion for election by Adams for an evaluation and drug treatment by TASC as an alternative to incarceration. (Tr. 56, 103; Adm. Ex. 2 at 28). On February 24, 2016, the judge ordered Adams to undergo a TASC evaluation to determine if he was eligible for the drug treatment. (Tr. 56, 63, 104; Adm. Ex. 2 at 30). Upon receiving the judge's order, Respondent immediately informed Adams. Adams replied that the result was "great." (Tr. 104).

Respondent and Adams appeared in court on March 2, 2016. At that time, the judge asked Adams why he had not complied with the judge's order to appear for the evaluation. As a result of Adams' failure to appear for the evaluation, the judge entered an order for Adams to

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appear on April 14, 2016, for a plea. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 31). Respondent was concerned about this result, but still believed it was possible for Adams to get probation. (Tr. 56, 57, 105-106). There was "no discord" between her and Adams at any time during the court proceeding or as they were leaving the court house, and no indication Adams was considering firing her as his attorney. (Tr. 85, 105).

Respondent said that prior to the evening of March 2, 2016, Adams was "nothing but pleasant" to her. (Tr. 98). However, on the evening of March 2, 2016, Respondent and Adams had a telephone conversation. During their conversation, Adams was "glib," engaged in a "rant," and told her he had made up his mind to fire her. Adams told her he was going to get her in trouble and that he had filed a complaint against her. She could hear people laughing in the background. (Tr. 65, 80, 86-88).

On March 2, 2016, following her telephone conversation with Adams, Respondent prepared a letter, which is the subject of the disciplinary Complaint. (Tr. 83, 88; Adm. Ex. 2 at 37-38). She said she was "in a blur" and "upset" because of the rant by Adams during the telephone conversation. Her letter contains various accusations against Adams. She was particularly upset because Adams had insisted she file the motion for treatment, she prepared and filed the motion, and then Adams failed to appear for evaluation after the motion was granted. She added that such motions are "not easily sought" and "not easily rendered." She also felt that the "trail that I gave Mr. Adams was enough for him to get probation." She mailed the letter to Adams the following day. (Tr. 56-57, 61, 109).

Respondent received a notice that the court had set a hearing on March 10, 2016, for Adams' motion to dismiss counsel. (Adm. Ex 2 at 33). However, Respondent did not receive a copy of the handwritten motion to dismiss her that was filed by Adams. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 32). In

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fact, Respondent said she did not see Adams' handwritten motion until "today," that is the day she testified in this disciplinary matter. (Tr. 60-61, 90). Even though she had not read Adams' handwritten motion, Respondent prepared an answer to the motion to dismiss counsel, which was filed with the court on March 9, 2016. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 36). She attached to her answer the letter she had prepared and previously sent to Adams. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 37-38).

Respondent explained that she filed the letter "disclosing stuff" about Adams out of "just frustration" and that "I don't even talk like that." (Tr. 110). She further explained that she filed the letter because she was "enraged," and in a "rage of emotion" (Tr. 62, 66, 109). One of things she was upset about was that Adams said he was "going to get me in trouble" and "wanted to ruin me." (Tr. 65, 69). She was also upset because Adams had fired her after she had "sacrificed my other cases in Monroe County and in Illinois for Mr. Adams." (Tr. 69-70). She further explained that she "reacted on, I guess, my own personal hurt." (Tr. 72).

Respondent acknowledged that the letter she filed with the court (Adm. Ex. 2 at 37-38) contains confidential information that may not be disclosed without her client's consent. (Tr. 67). She also acknowledged that her filing of the letter was "wrong" and that she "was not justified" in filing it. (Tr. 62, 67, 70). Further, Respondent said "I wrote that terrible letter that I'm apologizing for." (Tr. 62).

Respondent and Adams appeared at a hearing on March 10, 2016, but no testimony was heard. The judge simply granted Respondent leave to withdraw as Adams' attorney. (Tr. 72-73, 92-94; Adm. Ex. 2 at 39).

C. Analysis and Conclusions

The Administrator charges that Respondent violated Rule 1.6(a) by revealing information relating to her representation of John Quincy Adams IV by preparing and filing in the circuit court a letter containing information about Adams.

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Rule 1.6(a) of the of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010) states that "a lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent." However, Rule 1.6(a) further provides that such a disclosure is not improper "if the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b) [of Rule 1.6] or required by paragraph (c) [of Rule 1.6]."

In the case before us, the evidence and admissions show that Respondent represented John Quincy Adams IV on criminal and traffic charges pending against him in Monroe County. On the evening of March 2, 2016, Adams told Respondent during a telephone conversation that he no longer wanted her to represent him. Later on the same evening, Respondent prepared a letter that she sent to Adams on the following day. The letter included accusations that Adams:

had a "horrible criminal past" and a "violent criminal past;"

had been "arrested and/or convicted in Missouri at least fourteen times;"

"wanted to bribe the court in some manner;" and

was a "paranoid ingrate and miserable con man who tries to blame everyone else but yourself for YOUR misdeeds TO WHICH YOU CONFESSED."

About two days later, Respondent received a notice of a hearing set for March 10, 2016, on Adams' motion to dismiss her as his counsel. Without having seen, or otherwise having any knowledge of the content of, Adams' motion to dismiss her, Respondent filed an Answer in the Circuit Court of Monroe County, as a matter of public record, on March 9, 2016. She attached as an exhibit to her answer, the letter that contained the accusations against Adams set out above. On March 10, 2016, without hearing any testimony, the court entered an order stating that Adams' attorney was granted leave to withdraw.

It is clear from the testimony of both Respondent and Adams that they did not discuss the above letter before it was written or filed, and that Adams did not give consent for the letter to be

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filed with the court. It is also clear from the testimony of both Respondent and Adams, and from the court records, that the letter contained information relating to Respondent's representation of Adams.

As mentioned above, Rule 1.6(b) allows a lawyer "to reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary" for seven specific purposes or reasons set out in Rule 1.6(b)(1) through (7). Additionally a lawyer is required to reveal information if the "lawyer reasonably believes [it is] necessary to prevent certain death or substantial bodily harm." We find that none of the foregoing grounds or reasons for properly disclosing client information is present in this case. We note that in her Answer, Respondent stated that by filing her letter containing the above accusation she "sought to inform the ARDC in accordance with Rule 1.6(b)(2) that states a lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to prevent the client from committing fraud." We first find that Respondent could not have had any "reasonable belief" that Adams was committing or attempting to commit a fraud in regard to his motion to discharge her as his attorney because, as she admitted, she had not read Adams' motion and had no knowledge of what was said in the motion. Thus, Respondent could not have reasonably believed or concluded that a pleading she had never read contained fraudulent statements.

For example, in In re Montalvo, 98 SH 11, M.R. 16865 (Sept. 22, 2000), the respondent signed and filed with a court an affidavit that contained false statements. The respondent claimed that the affidavit was prepared by another attorney and that respondent signed it, without reading it. The Hearing Board stated "since the Respondent chose not to read the affidavit, he had no idea of the truth or falsity . . . [and] allowed the affidavit containing factual assertions about

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which he chose to remain ignorant to be filed in federal court with the intent that it would be relied on by the judge and used to deny the motion to disqualify the Respondent. This was an act of deceit perpetrated on the court." (Hearing Bd. at 20-21).

In In re Kessinger, 2014PR00083 and 2015PR00042, M.R. 28530 (Mar. 20, 2017), the respondent was found to have engaged in dishonesty by signing a loan application and a certification containing false information. "[B]ecause he did not read the documents, he knew at the time he signed them that he had no idea if the information contained in the documents was true or whether they contained false, incomplete, or misleading information." (Hearing Bd. at 23-27). Similarly in the case before us, Respondent had no idea if any information in Adams' motion to discharge her was true or whether it was false or misleading. Thus, she could not have reasonably believed Adams was committing or attempting to commit fraud.

Furthermore, we have read the handwritten motion of Adams. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 32). We find nothing contained in his motion that could possibly justify the accusations contained in Respondent's letter that she filed with the court.

The following cases are examples of attorney disclosures that were found to have violated Rule 1.6(a),

In In re Ingersoll, 186 Ill. 2d 163, 710 N.E.2d 390 (1990), the respondent represented a man named Perry who was charged with the murder of a police officer's son. Perry confessed to the murder, but the police did not disclose the confession to the public. At the request of Perry's mother, respondent spoke with Perry in the jail. During their conversation, Perry disclosed his confession and also said he had been ordered to commit the murder in retaliation for the death of a fellow gang member. The respondent testified that he and Perry agreed on a strategy to help create sympathy for Perry. The strategy was to make Perry's confession public, and then mitigate

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the crime by showing it was related to gang activity and that Perry was ordered to commit the murder. Perry denied discussing or agreeing to the foregoing strategy. On the day after the meeting in the jail, respondent disclosed the above information to a local television reporter. The television station then reported the information, and other stations made similar reports. The respondent also disclosed the information he received from Perry during an interview at a radio station. The Supreme Court affirmed the finding of misconduct. The Court first stated that the Hearing Board's finding as to credibility was entitled to deference. The Hearing Board heard conflicting accounts, and rejected the Ingersoll's version. The Court then stated:

In further support of its findings, the [Hearing] Board also noted that even if respondent had discussed the planned strategy with Perry, respondent had failed to fully explain to Perry the possible ramifications of the plan, and therefore had not obtained Perry's informed consent. We agree. Even if respondent's testimony is accepted as true, it fails to demonstrate that respondent apprised Perry of the potential consequences of the strategy.

Ingersoll, 186 Ill. 2d at 170-74.

In In re Kesinger, 2011PR00025, M.R. 25702 (Jan. 18, 2013), the respondent was also found to have disclosed a confidence of his client (Mays) in the absence of the client's consent. A few days before Mays' scheduled murder trial, respondent disclosed to an assistant state's attorney, and to two others, statements Mays had made to respondent regarding the incident. The respondent explained that the purpose of his disclosure was an attempt to obtain a plea agreement. Mays testified that he told respondent not to disclose the statements. However, respondent testified that, although he did not get written or verbal permission from Mays, he believed it "was implied" that he could disclose Mays' statements. The Hearing Board found that the disclosure of Mays' statements was improper because respondent "failed to make any significant 'disclosure' to Mays" to obtain informed consent. (Hearing Bd. at 24-25; Review Bd. at 6).

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In In re Gilsdorf, 2012PR00006, M.R. 2640 (Mar. 14, 2014), the respondent represented a client, Fulmer, charged with unlawful delivery of a controlled substance. The state's attorney turned over to respondent a DVD showing Fulmer's transaction with an undercover officer. After viewing the DVD, respondent thought it "looked like the police were planting drugs." He then posted the DVD on Facebook and YouTube, with the title "Cops and Task Force Planting Drugs." Fulmer did not give respondent permission to post the DVD. The respondent explained that there had been "extensive pretrial publicity put out there by the state" and he was "trying to negate some of that adverse pretrial publicity." Ultimately, respondent realized that he "had missed something on the video" and that it actually proved Fulmer was guilty. After realizing what the DVD showed, respondent advised Fulmer to accept the State's Attorney's offer of a sentence of 24 months probation for a guilty plea to a charge of possession of a controlled substance. Fulmer accepted the offer and entered a plea of guilty. The respondent did not provide adequate information to Fulmer for her to make an informed consent for respondent to post the DVD, as required by Rule 1.6(a). (Hearing Bd. at 7-11, 16) (Review Bd. at 2-6).

In In re Garza, 2012PR00035, M.R.26657 (May 16, 2014), respondent was found to have violated Rule 1.6(a) in the representation of two clients in separate cases. The respondent was appointed to represent a client, Franco, charged with retail theft for taking baby formula from a store. The respondent met briefly with Franco prior to a bond hearing. At the bond hearing, respondent informed the judge that Franco was not working, was living with his parents, and stole the formula for his infant child. Franco had not given consent for respondent to reveal that information. In the same month, respondent was appointed to represent another client, Poole, charged with a probation violation and criminal trespass to real property. She spoke with Poole, but he did not give consent for her to reveal any information relating to the charges. However, at

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a bond hearing respondent revealed information relating to the charges, including that Poole was present at the place of the alleged criminal trespass and his alleged motive for being there. (Hearing Bd. at 5-6, 8-9; Review Bd. at 2-3).

Based upon the above, we find that the Administrator proved by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent committed the misconduct of revealing information relating to the representation of a client without the informed consent of the client, and without the disclosure being otherwise authorized or permitted, in violation of Rule 1.6(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).

EVIDENCE OFFERED IN AGGRAVATION AND MITIGATION

The Respondent was licensed to practice law in Illinois in 1993 and Administrator's counsel stated that she has not been previously disciplined. (Tr.120).

Respondent

In regard to the non-disclosure provision in her retainer agreement with Adams, Respondent admitted in her Answer that she engaged in misconduct in violation of Rule 8.4(h). (Ans. at par. 8a.). During her testimony she said she knows it was wrong to have that provision in the retainer agreement, (Tr. 53).

In regard to her letter to Adams (Adm. Ex. 2 at 37-38), she said she drafted it following a telephone conversation with Adams during which he unexpectedly said he decided to fire her, engaged in a rant against her, and told her he was going to get her in trouble. (Tr. 65, 80, 86-88). She also said she was "in a blur" and "upset" following their telephone conversation (Tr. 83, 88). She mailed the letter to Adams the following day. A day or two later, Respondent received a notice of hearing scheduled for March 10, 2016, on Adams' motion to dismiss counsel.

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Respondent filed an answer to which she attached the letter she had previously written to Adams. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 37-38).

Respondent explained that she filed the letter "disclosing stuff" about Adams out of "just frustration" and that "I don't even talk like that." (Tr. 110). She further explained that she filed the letter because she was "enraged," and in a "rage of emotion" (Tr. 62, 66, 109). One of things she was upset about was that Adams said he was "going to get me in trouble" and "wanted to ruin me." (Tr. 65, 69). She was also upset because Adams had fired her after she had "sacrificed my other cases in Monroe County and in Illinois for Mr. Adams." (Tr. 69-70) She further explained that she "reacted on, I guess, my own personal hurt." (Tr. 72).

Respondent acknowledged that her letter filed with the court contained confidential information that could not be disclosed without her client's consent. (Tr. 67). She also acknowledged that her filing of the letter was "wrong" and that she "was not justified" in filing it. (Tr. 62, 67, 70). She further stated "I wrote that terrible letter that I'm apologizing for that I knew it was wrong to do." (Tr. 62).

Respondent also stated that she has performed "much" pro bono legal work. (Tr. 13, 48, 130).

RECOMMENDATION

A. Summary

The Hearing Panel recommends that Respondent be suspended for a period of thirty days, stayed in its entirety by a sixty day term of probation, with the condition that Respondent successfully complete the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Professionalism Seminar

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B. Analysis

The purpose of the attorney disciplinary system is not to punish the attorney for misconduct, but to protect the public, maintain the integrity of the legal profession, and protect the administration of justice from reproach. In re Edmonds, 2014 IL 117696, par. 90; In re Cutright, 233 Ill. 2d 474, 491, 910 N.E.2d 581 (2009). In determining the appropriate sanction, we must consider the nature and seriousness of the misconduct, and any aggravating and mitigating circumstances shown by the evidence. In re Gorecki, 208 Ill. 2d 350, 360-61, 802 N.E.2d 1194 (2003). In addition, we may consider the deterrent value of the sanction, the "need to impress upon others the seriousness of the misconduct at issue," and whether the sanction will "help preserve public confidence in the legal profession." In re Twohey, 191 Ill. 2d 75, 85, 727 N.E.2d 1028 (2000); Gorecki, 208 Ill. 2d at 361. Although each disciplinary case must be decided on its own unique facts, the Supreme Court strives for "consistency and predictability in the imposition of sanctions. Cutright, 233 Ill. 2d at 491; In re Mulroe, 2011 IL 111378, par. 25.

In this case, the Administrator requested the sanction of a suspension for at least six months and for her to complete the Professionalism Seminar. (Tr.119). Respondent requested that she not be suspended. (Tr. 128).

The misconduct of the Respondent was serious because it involved a client. Her retainer agreement with a client, John Quincy Adams IV improperly contained a provision prohibiting the client from reporting her conduct to the ARDC. (Rule 8.4(h)). Additionally, Respondent improperly disclosed information in a court pleading relating to her representation of Adams and without his consent. (Rule 1.6(a))

There is significant mitigation in this case.

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Respondent recognized that she engaged in misconduct in regard to the non-disclosure provision in the retainer agreement with Adams. She admitted in her Answer that she violated Rule 8.4(h) and testified that she knows it was wrong to have such a provision in the retainer agreement. (Ans. at par. 8a; Tr. 53).

Her misconduct of improperly disclosing information about her client, Adams, occurred during a seven day period, March 2 to March 9, 2016. It is apparent from Respondent's testimony that she was extremely angry and upset when Adams decided to suddenly fire her by telephone on March 2, 2016. She felt that she had well represented Adams, they had no previous discord, and she had no advanced indication that he was going fire her. During the telephone call on the evening of March 2, 2016, Adams told her he decided to fire her and said something that she believed was a threat to "get her in trouble." In her anger and shock she drafted the letter that disclosed information and made various accusations against Adams. (Tr. 65, 80, 83, 86-88).When she received the notice of hearing for Adams' motion to discharge her, she filed an Answer to which she improperly attached the letter. Her Answer was filed with the circuit court on March 9, 2016. Respondent explained that she filed the letter with the court out of "frustration," while still "enraged," and out of her "own personal hurt" because of the being fired unexpectedly after working so hard on behalf of Adams. (Tr. 62, 65, 66, 69, 70, 72, 110).

The Respondent's emotional state when she drafted and filed the letter does not justify her actions. However, it does show that she did not make a planned, thoughtful or reasoned decision to attack her client, but unfortunately allowed her temporary frustration, rage, and anger to dictate her actions and overcome sound judgment.

We find that Respondent recognized she engaged in misconduct by filing the letter about Adams with the court. Although she did not specifically admit violating Rule 1.6(a), she did

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acknowledge that her letter filed with the court contained confidential information, protected by Rule 1.6, and could not be disclosed without her client's consent. (Tr. 67). She also acknowledged that her filing of the letter was "wrong" and "not justified." (Tr. 62, 67, 70). She further stated "I wrote that terrible letter that I'm apologizing for that I knew it was wrong to do." (Tr. 62). During her closing argument, Respondent also said she was remorseful and apologized. (Tr. 124, 126, 129).

Respondent has been practicing law since 1993 and has not been previously disciplined. Thus, her misconduct occurred in one case with one client in her 24-year legal career.

Also in mitigation, Respondent cooperated during the disciplinary proceedings (Tr. 120, 122) and she has provided pro bono services. (Tr. 13, 48, 130).

We find in aggravation that Respondent's misconduct could have potentially harmed her client. The accusations against Adams in that letter, if investigated and found to be accurate, could have been considered as aggravating circumstances and affected the decisions of the state's attorney and/or judge, in regard to dismissing two of the charges against Adams or in imposing probation.

However, there was no actual harm caused to her client. Adams acknowledged during his testimony that he did not file a complaint against Respondent "because my contract stated that I could not." (Tr. 38-39). However, this disciplinary proceeding has proceeded against Respondent. Based upon the testimony and the court file of Respondent's representation of Adams, we fail to see any indication of other ethical violations that could have been the subject of a complaint by Adams. In regard to the letter filed with the court, it was not mentioned by the judge in the order granting Respondent leave to withdraw. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 39). Also, Adams

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pled guilty to one charge, two other charges were dismissed upon motion of the state's attorney, and Adams received a sentence of probation. (Adm. Ex. 2 at 46, 48).

In determining the appropriate sanction we have considered the following cases cited by the Administrator.

In In re Ingersoll, 186 Ill. 2d 163, 178, 710 N.E.2d 390 (1999), the Supreme Court in imposing the sanction of disbarment stated "respondent here committed a number of serious violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct." His misconduct included publicly revealing a statement made by his client, a criminal defendant, without the client's consent. In addition, respondent engaged in other serious misconduct, including dishonesty and deceit in two matters; making a statement of material fact to a tribunal that he knew or should have known was false in two matters; offering evidence he knew to be false; and depositing his personal funds into his trust account on five occasions. In aggravation, he failed to cooperate in his disciplinary proceedings, and engaged in conduct "designed to obstruct, delay and hinder the proceedings." Ingersoll, 186 Ill. 2d at 178, 171-74, 167, 170, 176-77, 179.

In In re Kirby, 07 CH 97, M.R. 24715 (Nov. 22, 2011), the respondent converted $8,784 of settlement funds from a personal injury case and engaged in dishonesty. After the client filed a complaint with the ARDC, respondent, in violation of Rule 1.8(h) of the 1990 Rules, entered into an agreement whereby respondent would pay a certain amount and the client would withdraw her disciplinary complaint. In aggravation, respondent failed to acknowledge his misconduct or recognize its seriousness; caused financial harm to a client "who was already in financial trouble;" and the client found it necessary to hire other counsel to obtain her funds. In mitigation, respondent practiced law for 20 years without being previously disciplined; he made restitution; and presented one character witness. " The respondent was suspended for 6 months and until he

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successfully completed the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Professionalism Seminar.

In In re Kesinger, 2011PR00025, M.R. 25702 (Jan. 18, 2013), the respondent's misconduct arose out of two separate criminal cases. In the first matter, respondent revealed a statement of his client, Mays, to an assistant state's attorney without Mays' consent, and failed to sufficiently explain a matter for Mays to make informed decisions. In the second matter, respondent improperly attempted to renegotiate his fee with his client, Bufford, on the day of Bufford's trial. Additionally, respondent committed conversion by retaining $4,000 of a bond that belonged to Bufford. (Hearing Bd. at 35-37; Review Bd. at 6-7. 12-13). In aggravation, a document respondent prepared to show Bufford the number of hours he had worked on Bufford's case contained "false and misleading information." Also, respondent delayed several months before responding to Bufford's inquiry about the bond refund and before making restitution. Additionally, respondent had practiced law for more than 35 years, and was previously disciplined fifteen years earlier for overreaching to obtain an attorney fee. In mitigation, the respondent did not act with a dishonest motive in the conversion; he was active in a local bar association; he provided "numerous hours of pro bono services;" he was active in community and church matters; he recognized his misconduct and apologized; and one character witness testified on his behalf. (Hearing Bd. at 37-39; Review Bd. at 14-15). The respondent was suspended for six months.

In In re Gilsdorf, 2012PR00006, M.R. 26540 (Mar. 14, 2014), the respondent represented a client named Fulmer who was charged with the unlawful delivery of a controlled substance. The state's attorney gave respondent a video recording showing the undercover drug transaction between Fulmer and an undercover officer. The respondent viewed the video and mistakenly

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believed it showed that the drugs were planted on Fulmer. While his client's criminal case was pending, and without his client's knowledge or consent, respondent had the video posted on Internet sites, and entitled it "Cops and Task Force Planting Drugs." The respondent explained that there had been "extensive pretrial publicity put out there by the state" and he was "trying to negate some of that adverse pretrial publicity." Ultimately, respondent realized that he "had missed something on the video" and that it actually proved Fulmer was guilty. After realizing what the video showed, respondent advised Fulmer to accept the state's attorney's guilty plea offer. Fulmer accepted the offer and entered a plea of guilty. The respondent's misconduct included revealing information relating to a representation without the client's informed consent (Rule 1.6(a)); failing to reasonably consult with his client (Rule 1.4(a)(2))] and making extrajudicial statements that he reasonably knows would pose a serious and imminent threat to the fairness of an adjudicative proceeding (Rule 3.6(a)). (Hearing Bd. at 7-11, 16) (Review Bd. at 2-6). In aggravation, respondent did not recognize or understand his misconduct and caused harm to his client. Fulmer testified that she suffered embarrassment; she heard people talking about her; and people she had known her entire life stopped talking to her. Also in aggravation, respondent received a plea offer from the state's attorney in April 2011, but did not inform Fulmer of the offer until October 2011, after respondent realized he was mistaken about what the video showed. (Hearing Bd. at 6-7, 30). In mitigation, respondent had practiced law for about 20 years without being previously disciplined and sought to benefit his client. The respondent was suspended for 5 months.

In In re Garza, 2012PR00035 (May 16, 2014), the respondent's misconduct arose out of her position as public defender and involved her representation of seven clients. As charged in counts I and III, she did not inform her clients of guilty plea offers from the prosecutor. As

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charged in counts II, IV, V, she disclosed confidential information about her clients without the clients' consent. As charged in count VI; she offered to improperly post bond for a client. As charged in counts VI, VII and VIII, she engaged in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal. In mitigation, respondent had practiced law for 30 years and was not previously disciplined. An attorney who had previously worked with respondent testified that she had a reputation as an ethical and honest attorney. In aggravation, respondent showed no remorse, never acknowledged her misconduct, and tried to rationalize her actions. Furthermore, respondent failed to file an answer to the disciplinary complaint and failed to participate in a prehearing conference. (Hearing Bd. at 2-3, 14-16; Review Bd. at 1-8). The respondent was suspended for 90 days.

In In re Peshek, 09 CH 89. M.R. 23794 (May 18, 2010), respondent was a public defender who posted on an internet blog confidential information about or her discussions with some of her clients. For example, in one matter, she posted the jail number of the client and stated that he was pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance, even though he was not guilty, in order to protect his older brother. Another blog referred to a client by his first name and stated that he lied to the court about his drug use. Additionally, the respondent failed to have a client rectify a false statement to a court or inform the court of the false statement. Further respondent, in her blog, referred to one judge as "a total asshole," and another judge as "Judge Clueless." The blog entries contained sufficient information so that her co-workers, employees of the prosecutor's office, police, bailiffs, and others could determine the identity of the clients and judges she mentioned. Her misconduct included revealing a confidence of clients (Rule 1.6(a)); failing to rectify a fraud perpetrated on the court by a client (Rule 1.2(g)); and dishonesty (Rule 8.4(a)(4)). The respondent was 53 years of age, was not previously disciplined in her 20

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years of practice, was cooperative and expressed remorse. The Supreme Court allowed the Petition to Impose Discipline on Consent and imposed a 60 day suspension.

In In re Banks, 2011PR00008, M.R. 25136 (Mar. 19, 2012), the respondent failed to respond to requests for information from a client who was charged with a criminal offense and failed to refund an unearned fee, in violation of Rules 1.4(a) and 1.16(e). (Count I). Additionally, after the former client filed a complaint with the ARDC, respondent sent the former client a letter improperly offering to refund $1,500 of the fees "in consideration of the dropping of the matter before the ARDC Commission." The former client did not respond to the letter. Thus, respondent attempted to violate Rule 8.4(h) by sending the above letter and, thus, violated Rule 8.4(a) that provides that it is professional misconduct to attempt to violate any Rule of Professional Conduct. In mitigation, the respondent performed charitable work and three judges testified as to respondent's reputation for honesty and integrity. In aggravation, the respondent was reprimanded in 2000 for failing to promptly refund an unearned fee, and in 2009 was censured for similar misconduct. Also, there was harm to the client, in that the client "was required to remain in jail throughout the time that respondent failed to return phone calls or file the written motion seeking his release." The client also found it necessary to hire new counsel, who was "able to quickly secure his release on bond." (Hearing Bd. at 25-28). The respondent was suspended for 30 days and until he makes restitution of $1,500 and successfully completes the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Professionalism Seminar.

In In re O'Connor, 01 CH 96, M.R. 19328 (May 17, 2004), the respondent's law firm represented a client, Victor Oliva, in a legal malpractice case. The case was handled by two of respondent's partners, Schiff and Church. Oliva told Church that he was willing to accept $350,000 to settle his case. Church sent Schiff an e-mail containing the statement by Oliva. The

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respondent reviewed correspondence in Oliva's case and found the foregoing e-mail. Respondent violated Rule 1.6 (a) by disclosing the e-mail containing Oliva's statement to the opposing counsel in the Oliva case. The respondent's motivation in disclosing the e-mail was "a selfish desire to disrupt the Oliva settlement and cast his former partner in a poor light" The Hearing Board stated that the respondent "neglected to give his full attention to the information contained in the transmissions and carelessly forwarded a document containing information which he should have redacted;" and the "inclusion of the information regarding Oliva's willingness to settle for a certain amount resulted from a lack of due care rather than any intent to divulge confidential information." Also in mitigation, the attorney cooperated in his disciplinary proceedings, expressed regret, had not been previously disciplined, and two character witnesses testified on his behalf. (Hearing Bd. at 10-14). A suspension for 30 days was imposed.

In In re Unger, 93 CH 206 (Aug. 18, 1993), the only act of misconduct was that the respondent conditioned the repayment of $300 in legal fees on the client signing a release purporting to limit the client's right to pursue a compliant with the ARDC. The respondent had practiced law for about 30 years without being previously disciplined, the misconduct was an isolated incident, and he expressed remorse. The Hearing Board issued a reprimand to the respondent.

We also note the following case that we have considered.

In In re Kuhn, 01 CH 102, M.R. 18176 (Sept. 19, 2002), the respondent neglected a dissolution of marriage case of his client, Keith. As a result, a default judgment of dissolution, including division of assets, was entered. Also, respondent failed to keep his client informed. Subsequently, respondent agreed to pay Keith $12,000 in return for Keith releasing him from all claims arising out of the dissolution case and to rescind a request for investigation Keith had

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filed with the ARDC. Keith agreed and they signed such an agreement. The respondent was 75 years of age and had practiced law since 1953. Respondent was reprimanded in 1975 for failing to comply with a request for information from the ARDC in connection with a pending investigation. In 1988 he was reprimanded for neglecting various legal matters. During the investigation of his current matter, respondent initially claimed he suffered from cancer. However, after the Complaint was filed respondent admitted that he did not have cancer. The Supreme Court allowed the Petition to Impose Discipline on Consent and suspended the respondent for 60 days.

In In re Sutton, 01 CH 32, M.R. 18445 (Jan. 23, 2003), the respondent settled a worker's compensation claim on behalf of a client and received a check for $6,000 from the insurer. In April 1999, he deposited the check into his trust account and sent a check on the trust account to his client. The check was honored. In May 1999, respondent sent a check for $2,575 on the trust account to the company, Marriott, who had a lien for paying the client's medical bills. About 10 months later, in March 2000, respondent was informed that the check to Marriott had been returned for insufficient funds in his trust account. While respondent knew he had to have a trust account, he mistakenly believed he could also have his own funds in the trust account. Respondent paid Marriott $1,000 in May 2000 and paid the remaining amount owed in July 2000. There were two causes of respondent's commingling and conversion of funds: "poor bookkeeping and Respondent's insufficient understanding of the requirements of a client trust account." Respondent expressed remorse, accepted responsibility, and cooperated. The Hearing Board also stated:

In addition to those specific probation conditions that we are recommending, we strongly suggest that Respondent acquaint himself with an experienced sole practitioner who can answer questions and provide guidance, as the need arises, with respect to office practices and the handling of funds. Since Respondent is

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somewhat isolated in his home office setting, a point person who could be available for occasional consultation would be a further safeguard in his current practice.

Both the Hearing Board and Review Board recommended that respondent be suspended for 90 days, stayed in its entirety, by a 9 months probation term. (Hearing Bd. at 10-11; Review Bd. at 3-5). The Supreme Court imposed a 90 day suspension, with the suspension entirely stayed by nine months' probation. The conditions of probation included that respondent successfully complete the Professionalism Seminar of the Illinois Professional Responsibility Institute; establish the proper system for handling a trust account, submit to an audit of his trust account, other usual conditions of probation.

In re Lapine, 00 CH 47, M.R. 17891 (Mar. 22, 2002), the respondent represented a client, Lloyd, in a contract case and was paid $1,450 for fees and costs. He filed a complaint, but then neglected the case. He failed to respond to a counter-complaint, failed to appear twice in court for hearings on motions, and failed to appear in court for a prove-up on the counter-complaint. As a result, a default judgment was entered against Lloyd. Subsequently, he met with Lloyd and acknowledged that he did not properly handle Lloyd's case and that there was a potential malpractice case against him. The respondent then offered to credit Lloyd's legal fees by $2,000 to compensate for the delay and cost of reinstatement of the legal action. Lloyd agreed. However, respondent was unable to get the case reinstated and Lloyd's cause of action became time-barred. The respondent's misconduct included settling a claim with a client without advising the client that independent representation is appropriate (Rule 1.8(f)); failing to provide competent representation (Rule 1.1(a)); failing to act with diligence (Rule 1.3), and failing to keep a client informed (Rule1.4(a)). In mitigation, respondent accepted full responsibility, denied any outside force caused his actions, and refunded the $1,450 to Lloyd. Respondent also admitted that, as the result of two previous complaints submitted to the ARDC, he completed the Illinois Professional

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Responsibility Institute course and entered into a one-year mentoring relationship with another lawyer. The misconduct in this case occurred while respondent was being mentored. (Hearing Bd. at 2-4). The respondent was suspended for 30 days, with the suspension stayed in its entirely and respondent was placed on probation for one year. The conditions of probation included the usual conditions, plus that respondent enroll in a law office management program and obtain a lawyer to work with him in regard to the management of his law office.

In In re Kostouros, 04 CH 149, M.R. 20215 (Sept. 26, 2005), the boyfriend (Van) of a client (Hendrix), of respondent's firm told respondent that Hendrix was claiming that respondent made sexual advances toward her and that Hendrix planned to file a lawsuit and hold a press conference about the matter. Van also told him that Hendrix would change her mind for $8,500. Eventually, respondent agreed to pay Hendrix $5,000 and they signed an agreement whereby Hendrix agreed not to prosecute any claims against respondent, including any potential claims with the ARDC. In mitigation, respondent had no prior discipline, was cooperative, and expressed remorse. Also, there was no evidence to support the charges of Hendrix. The Supreme Court allowed the Petition to Impose Discipline on Consent and censured the respondent.

We have not been cited to, nor have we found, any disciplinary case that has facts substantially similar to those in the case before us. However, the cases described above, provide guidance as to the seriousness of Respondent's misconduct, in light of the aggravation and mitigation, and an appropriate sanction.

We conclude that the nature and seriousness of the Respondent's misconduct, considered with the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, is more comparable with the above cases in which a suspension of 60 days or less was imposed, coupled with a probation period. The above cases in which a greater suspension or disbarment was imposed involved more egregious

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misconduct and overall circumstances. The cases in which a censure was imposed involved less serious misconduct.

Similar to the suggestion by the Hearing Board in Sutton, 01 CH 32 (Hearing Bd. at 10-11), we strongly suggest that Respondent acquaint herself with an experienced lawyer who she could contact if she felt enraged or frustrated by something that occurs in her practice and who would offer her advice as to an appropriate and ethical way to address the situation.

After considering the nature of the Respondent's misconduct, the circumstances under which the misconduct was committed, the aggravating and mitigating factors, and the above cases, we conclude that a short suspension, stayed in its entirety by a short term of probation would sufficiently protect the public and the administration of justice, and preserve public confidence in the legal profession. We also conclude that a 60 day term of probation is sufficient in light of the fact that the only condition of probation we recommend is that Respondent successfully complete a professionalism course.

Therefore, we recommend that the Respondent, Laura Lee Robinson, be suspended from the practice of law for a period of thirty (30) days, with the suspension stayed in its entirety for a sixty (60) day period of probation, with the condition that Respondent successfully complete the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Professionalism Seminar by the end of the probation period.

Respectfully Submitted,

Richard W. Zuckerman
Donald R. Jackson
Ted L. Eilerman

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CERTIFICATION

I, Kenneth G. Jablonski, Clerk of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois and keeper of the records, hereby certifies that the foregoing is a true copy of the Report and Recommendation of the Hearing Board, approved by each Panel member, entered in the above entitled cause of record filed in my office on August 16, 2017.

Kenneth G. Jablonski, Clerk of the
Attorney Registration and Disciplinary
Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois