The Illinois Review Board proposes a 90-day suspension of an attorney on these charges
The Administrator brought a one-count complaint against Respondent, charging her with improperly entering into an agreement with a client that limited or purported to limit the client's right to file or pursue a complaint before the ARDC, and with filing a response to her client's motion to dismiss counsel in which she revealed information relating to her representation of the client without the client's informed consent, in violation of 2010 Illinois Rules of Professional 8.4(h) and 1.6(a), respectively.
The Hearing Board found that Respondent had engaged in the charged misconduct and recommended that, for her misconduct, Respondent be suspended for 30 days, with the suspension stayed in its entirety by a 60-day period of probation, the only condition of which was for Respondent to complete the ARDC Professionalism seminar.
Respondent was licensed to practice law in Illinois in 1993. She also is licensed to practice in Missouri. She is a solo practitioner. At the time of her disciplinary hearing, she had one active case. She also works as a substitute teacher. She has no prior misconduct.
In May 2015, Respondent began representing John Quincy Adams IV in some criminal and traffic matters. She and Adams entered into a retainer agreement, which she prepared and presented to him and which provided, 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.
(Hearing Bd. Report at 4 (citing Admin. Ex. 1).)
Respondent represented Adams until March 2016. On March 2, Adams filed with the court a handwritten motion stating that he would like to fire Respondent and hire different counsel. That same night, Respondent and Adams had a phone conversation. Respondent testified that he told her he had made up his mind to fire her, that he was going to get her in trouble, and that he had filed a complaint against her. He did not tell her that he had already filed a motion to dismiss her as his counsel.
Following their phone conversation, Respondent drafted a letter to Adams in which she referred to his "horrible criminal past" and a "violent criminal past;" stated that he has been "arrested and/or convicted in Missouri at least fourteen times;" stated that he "wanted to bribe the court in some manner;" and called him a "paranoid ingrate and miserable con man who tries to blame everyone else but yourself for YOUR misdeeds TO WHICH YOU CONFESSED." (Hearing Bd. Report at 11 (emphasis in original).)
A hearing on Adam's motion was set for March 10, and notice of the hearing was sent to Respondent on March 3. On March 9, Respondent filed an answer to Adam's motion with the Circuit Court of Monroe County, and attached the above-quoted letter to her answer. It thus became a matter of public record.
Respondent testified at her hearing that she was "in a blur" and "upset" when she wrote the letter because of Adams' rant during their conversation. She further testified that she included the letter with her filed answer out of "just frustration," because she was "enraged" and in a "rage of emotion," and "reacted on ? [her] own personal hurt." She acknowledged that the letter contained confidential information that she should not have disclosed without her client's consent; that the filing of the letter was "wrong;" and that she "was not justified" in filing it. (Hearing Bd. Report at 17.)...