IN THE SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
In the Matter of:
Supreme Court No. M.R.
Commission No. 2010PR00060
STATEMENT OF CHARGES
PURSUANT TO SUPREME COURT RULE 762(a)
Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney Gina M. Abbatemarco, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(a), states that on the date Kelly Christine Garland (hereinafter "Movant") signed a Motion pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(a) requesting that her name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys admitted to practice law in this state, the Administrator was investigating allegations that in 2009, Movant falsified court orders and an affidavit in five domestic relations matters in order to conceal from her clients the status of their cases. Had Movant’s conduct been the subject of a hearing, the Administrator would have introduced the evidence described below, and that evidence would have clearly and convincingly established the following conclusions of misconduct:
I. SUMMARY OF PROOF AVAILABLE TO THE ADMINISTRATOR IN SUPPORT OF CHARGED MISCONDUCT
Movant’s admissions, testimony of Movant’s former clients, attorneys and judges involved with Movant’s client matters, Movant’s law partner and various records, including client files and court records, would have established the following facts:
A. Creation of false court orders in relation to Elizabeth Schmidt
1. In November 2008, Movant began representing Elizabeth Schmidt ("Schmidt") in a contested matter involving the dissolution of Schmidt’s marriage to Jeffrey Schmidt. During the settlement negotiations in that matter, Schmidt requested that Movant ask Jeffrey Schmidt’s attorney to agree to a provision requiring Jeffrey Schmidt to submit to random drug and alcohol testing. Jeffrey Schmidt did not agree to that provision, and Movant negotiated and caused to be entered by the court a joint parenting agreement and agreed order on Schmidt’s behalf that did not include the random testing provision. Movant then created a purported "Agreed Order" falsely reflecting that Jeffrey Schmidt had agreed to the testing provision, caused the Hon. Edward Jordan’s stamp to be placed on the order, in order to make it appear that the order had been entered on August 28, 2009, and gave Schmidt a copy of the purported agreed order.
2. Between July 16, 2009, and September 16, 2009, Movant altered four other court orders in the Schmidt matter which had been entered by Judge Jordan. Those alterations misrepresented the hearing dates that had been set by the court, removed a reference to a petition for indirect criminal contempt of court filed against Schmidt, and omitted a visitation schedule for Jeffrey Schmidt’s visits with the couple’s daughter. Movant sent Schmidt copies of the altered orders in order to mislead Schmidt about the status of her case.
B. False statement to a tribunal and false court orders in relation to Walter Ascher
3. In April 2009, Movant began representing Walter Ascher ("Ascher") in his contested dissolution of marriage action. On June 16, 2009, Movant filed an emergency motion requesting a continuance of a hearing in the Ascher matter set for that day. In the motion and in an affidavit attached to it, Movant falsely stated to the court that on June 15, 2009, she had found out that she would be required to "undergo medical testing" on the afternoon of June 16, 2009 and, therefore, would not be available for the hearing in the Ascher matter. The court agreed to continue the matter to June 29, 2009, based on Movant’s false representations.
4. On November 23, 2009, Movant agreed on Ascher’s behalf to the entry of an order by the Hon. David Haracz. In the order, Judge Haracz found, in part, that Ascher had failed to pay his wife’s attorney’s fees as ordered by the court, and held Ascher in willful indirect civil contempt. Judge Haracz also ordered that he would withhold the contempt finding against Ascher, provided that Ascher adhered to the payment schedule set forth in the order, but further provided that if Ascher did not make one of the payments the court would enter the contempt finding and issue a body attachment, instanter.
5. Movant altered the November 23, 2009 order to falsely reflect that Ascher’s failure to timely pay the attorneys’s fees could result in contempt findings and a body attachment after due notice and hearing, rather than instanter, as provided in the genuine order. Movant caused Judge Haracz’s stamp to be placed on the altered order, in order to make it appear that the altered order had been entered by the court on November 23, 2009. Movant then sent a copy of the altered agreed order to Ascher in order to mislead Ascher about the status of the case.
C. Dishonesty in relation to Dennis Irwin
6. In October 2008, Movant began representing Dennis Irvin ("Irvin") in a post-dissolution petition for child support. In September 2009, Movant served a subpoena duces tecum to Irvin’s ex-wife’s employer, but did not include the payment of a witness fee, as required by Illinois Supreme Court Rule 204. After Movant filed a petition for rule to show cause against the employer, the Hon. Veronica B. Mathein quashed the subpoena and denied Movant’s petition for rule to show cause. The employer filed a petition for attorney’s fees, but Movant did not inform Irvin of the filing of the fee petition. On December 3, 2009, Movant paid the employer’s fees, in lieu of proceeding with the hearing, by tendering a personal check in the amount of $1,450 to the employer’s counsel. After Movant’s employment was terminated by her firm, Movant stopped payment on that check.
D. Creation of false court orders in relation to Arthur Lampitt
7. In November 2008, Movant began representing Arthur Lampitt ("Lampitt") in matters related to a motion to quash service of summons and for other relief in a dissolution of marriage action. During her representation of Lampitt, Movant created seven false orders and provided Lampitt with copies of those purported orders. Five of the orders contained various false provisions or omitted genuine information/rulings. For example, Movant altered a February 25, 2009 order by removing a provision from the court order requiring Lampitt to pay a $1,000 sanction to his wife’s attorneys. Movant altered an April 30, 2009 court order by deleting provisions reciting that Movant had paid the $1,000, and that she had voluntarily dismissed Lampitt’s motion to quash service of summons. Movant also altered court orders to falsely reflect who appeared in court on those dates in order to make it appear that a continuance had been necessary because of an attorney’s failure to appear in court, adding false reasons for continuing the matters before the court, and adding false provisions regarding Movant’s fee petition and her efforts to collect her fees from Lampitt’s wife. Two other purported orders bore dates on which no genuine order had been entered and they falsely showed that Lampitt’s motion to quash service had been entered and continued by the court, rather than dismissed by Movant.
E. False statements to a tribunal and dishonesty in relation to Dana Bakos
8. In October 2008, Movant represented Dana Bakos ("Bakos") in post-decree matters involving obtaining child support payments from her ex-husband, Timothy Levaughn ("Levaughn"). On February 16, 2009, without consulting Bakos, Movant agreed with Levaughn’s attorney, Michelle Beattie, to continue a February 17, 2009 hearing regarding Levaughn’s petition to modify child support, and also that the amount Levaughn paid in child support would be temporarily reduced from $2,000 per month to $500 per month until the petition was heard. Movant caused an order reflecting her agreement with Beattie to be entered on February 17, 2009. Movant did not inform Bakos of the contents of the February 17, 2009 order.
9. In October 2009, Bakos became aware of the February 17, 2009 order when she was notified by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services of its efforts to collect child support from Levaughn. Shortly thereafter, Movant falsely told both Bakos and Movant’s law partner, Corri D. Fetman, that Movant had no knowledge of the entry of the order, and that Levaughn must have had the order entered ex parte without Movant’s or Beattie’s involvement.
10. Based on Movant’s false statements, Fetman drafted a motion to vacate the February 17, 2009 order, and asked Movant to obtain an affidavit from Beattie stating that Beattie had not participated in the entry of the February 17, 2009 order. Movant, without Beattie’s or Fetman’s knowledge, drafted an affidavit purportedly authored by Beattie, and sent the unsigned draft to Fetman by e-mail from a Yahoo! email account Movant had set up in Beattie’s name, in order to make Fetman believe that the purported affidavit came from Beattie. Movant later signed Beattie’s name to a final copy of the affidavit and sent it to Fetman via Federal Express. Fetman, believing the affidavit to be genuine, attached the false affidavit to the motion and filed it in Bakos’ case.
II. CONCLUSIONS OF MISCONDUCT
11. By reason of the conduct described above, Movant has engaged in the following misconduct:
failing to provide competent representation to a client, in violation of Rule 1.1 of the 1990 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;
failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, in violation of Rule 1.3 of the 1990 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;
failing to keep a client reasonably informed as to the status of a matter and to promptly comply with requests for information in violation of Rule 1.4(a) of the 1990 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;
failing to make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client, in violation of Rule 3.2 of the 1990 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;
making statements of material fact or law to a tribunal which the lawyer knows or reasonably should have known are false, in violation of Rule 3.3(a)(1) of the 1990 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;
committing a criminal act (by violating 720 ILCS 5/32-8) that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the 1990 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;
conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the 1990 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;
conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the 1990 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and
conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.
|Gina M. Abbatemarco
Counsel for the Administrator
130 East Randolph Drive, #1500
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Telephone: (312) 565-2600
Facsimile: (312) 565-2320