IN THE SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

In the Matter of:

MICHAEL LEE HENNEBERRY,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No.  3129220..

 

Supreme Court No. M.R. 30711

Commission No. 2021PR00011

 

STATEMENT OF CHARGES PURSUANT TO
SUPREME COURT RULE 762(a)

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission ("ARDC") by his attorney, Rachel C. Miller, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 762(a), states that on the date Michael Lee Henneberry ("Movant") filed a motion requesting that his name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys, the Administrator was investigating allegations that Movant made sexually explicit comments to and inappropriately touched a client for whom he served as public defender and that Movant pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of unlawful delivery of alcohol to a minor in 2020. Had Movants 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 misconduct set forth below:

I.    FACTUAL BASIS

Movants admissions, court documents, and the testimony of various individuals would establish the following facts:

A. Battery and harassment of a client M.M.

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1. Movant, who was admitted to practice law in Illinois on May 1, 1981, is 65 years old. He is not currently practicing law. At the time of his representation of a client, M.M., in a criminal matter, Movant served as the Bureau County Public Defender.

2. On April 25, 2019, Movant appeared with M.M. for a court appearance in her criminal matter. While seated at the counsel table, Movant covered the microphone with his hand, leaned close to M.M., and told her that he could not concentrate because of the way she looked in her outfit.

3. A few weeks before M.M.s next court appearance, which was scheduled for July 10, 2019, Movant called M.M. and asked her to come to his office for a meeting. M.M. went to Movants office with her girlfriend, who remained present during the meeting. During the meeting, Movant told M.M. that he was not opposed to M.M.s relationship with her girlfriend and that, in fact, he would not mind seeing sexual activity between them.

4. A few days prior to M.M.s July 10, 2019 court appearance, Movant called M.M. and asked her to come to his office before her court appearance without her girlfriend. On July 10, 2019, Movant met with M.M. in his office alone. After discussing plea offers for approximately 10 minutes, Movant made sexually explicit comments to M.M. and asked her to raise her shirt above her breasts. Then, Movant reclined in his chair, made additional sexually explicit comments, and masturbated. After masturbating, Movant opened the door for M.M. and told her he would call her later. Later that day, Movant appeared with M.M. in court for her court appearance. While seated at the defense table, Movant used his hand to rub M.M.s thigh.

5. At the time Respondent engaged in the conduct described in paragraph four above, Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/12-3 provided, "Battery. (a) A person commits battery if he or she knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) causes bodily harm to an individual or (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual."

B. 2020 Misdemeanor conviction for unlawful delivery of alcohol to a minor

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6. Prior to January 12, 2020, Movant became acquainted with an employee of a local McDonalds. Through this acquaintanceship, Movant hired the employees 15-year-old child to clean his home on Sundays.

7. On January 12, 2020, Movant went to the childs home, picked her up, and returned to his home so that she could clean for him. While the child was in his home, Movant asked her if she had ever tried schnapps, an alcoholic beverage. When she said that she had not, Movant poured her approximately one-half inch of peppermint schnapps. The child consumed the schnapps that Movant provided to her. After returning home, the child told her mother that Movant gave her schnapps, and her mother contacted law enforcement.

8. On February 7, 2020, the Bureau County States Attorneys Office charged Movant with one count of unlawful delivery of alcohol to a minor. The matter was docketed in Bureau County Circuit Court as case number 2020 CM 37, State of Illinois v. Michael L. Henneberry

9. On March 5, 2020, Respondent pled guilty to one count of unlawful delivery of alcohol to a minor. Respondent received a sentence of one year of court supervision, was ordered to perform 30 hours of community service, to pay fines and costs, and to have no contact with the minor.

II.    CONCLUSIONS OF MISCONDUCT

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

  1. engaging in a conflict of interest by representing a client when there is a significant risk that the representation of the client will be materially limited by a personal interest of the lawyer, by conduct including the advancement of personal sexual gratification by making sexually explicit comments and requests to M.M., touching her thigh and masturbating in her presence, while he was acting as her court-appointed attorney, including during court appearances, in vi gratification by making sexually explicit comments and requests to M.M., touching her thigh and masturbating in her presence, while he was acting as her court-appointed attorney, including during court appearances, in viҏ:"nU+Z9 x  5f|z@txw%7їySJxɻ0ȢQ;8xqH9f  H?gBAvrPw?r%Y^` RmBxVDC70nPR.xbwˡONM*IIZ߶Asq{tε4G`OI+?J