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Illinois Review Board recommends disbarment for criminal prosecutor who had personal relationships with criminal defendant and a minor witness in another case

Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which, in keeping with the theme of discipline of former criminal prosecutors, will discuss the recent Report and Recommendation of the Illinois Disciplinary Review Board to uphold the Illinois Hearing Board’s recommendation that a former criminal prosecutor who had personal relationships with a criminal defendant whom he was prosecuting and an underage witness in another case be disbarred.  The case is In re: Hunter Hogan, Commission No. 2011PR00047 (June 26, 2013).  I previously discussed the Illinois Disciplinary Hearing Board’s Report and Recommendation in my December 10, 2012 Ethics Alert.  The Review Board’s Report and Recommendation is here:

The Review Board’s Report and Recommendation provides the following factual summary:  “The Administrator charged (the lawyer) with misconduct arising out his conduct in two matters (the lawyer) handled while he was an Assistant State’s Attorney in Carroll County.”

“In the first count, the Administrator alleged that (the lawyer) overreached his position of trust as a prosecutor when he began a personal relationship with a defendant, K.I., in a case he  prosecuted. (The lawyer) engaged in a discussion with K.I. while she was in jail.  After K.I. was sentenced and released from custody, (the lawyer) had another conversation of a personal nature.  (The lawyer) took K.I. out to dinner, and while in the car, touched her leg and kissed her.  (The lawyer) later sent K.I. four text messages.”

“In the second count, (the lawyer), in his capacity as an Assistant State’s Attorney, charged A.F. with child pornography for taking pictures of J.C., who was 14 years old when the pictures were taken.  During the course of  the prosecution of the case, (the lawyer) developed a personal relationship with J.C. and her family.  As a result of that relationship, (the lawyer) was removed from the case, but he continued the relationship with J.C. and her family.  On February 22, 2010, when J.C. was 17 years old, she was at (the lawyer’s) apartment, and he kissed her and touched her breast.”

“(The lawyer) failed to appear at his disciplinary hearing.  The Hearing Board filed a Report and Recommendation concluding that (the lawyer) engaged in overreaching his position of trust and authority as a prosecutor in  both matters.  The Hearing Board concluded that (the lawyer) engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of  the 1990 Rules of Professional Conduct or 8.4(d) of the 2010 Rules because his conduct undermined the authority of the State’s Attorney’s Office and the criminal justice system. The Hearing Board also concluded that with respect to the second matter, (the lawyer) engaged in criminal conduct in violation of Rule  8.4(b). The Hearing Board recommended that (the lawyer) be disbarred.”

“(The lawyer) filed exceptions to the Hearing Board’s Report and Recommendation.  Upon review, the Review Board noted that (the lawyer’s) brief failed to comply with the Rules and failed to provide a comprehensible basis for the review of the Hearing Board’s conclusions. The Review Board reviewed the record and found no reason to disturb the Hearing Board’s findings or recommendation. The Review Board recommended that (the lawyer) be disbarred.”

Bottom line: The Illinois Supreme Court will now review the Report and Recommendation and issue a final disciplinary opinion.  Not sure what was going through this lawyer’s mind; however, it may not have been much.  This appears to be another example of a lawyer behaving badly, who in this case happened to be a criminal prosecutor sworn to uphold justice and the law.

Be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431

Clearwater, Florida 33759

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

[email protected]

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