Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed January 20, 2012





In re Thomas, 2012 IL 113035

Attorney Discipline Matter


      JUSTICE GARMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.


      The attorney in this disciplinary proceeding was charged in 2007 with two counts of unauthorized practice of law and one count of misrepresentation to a tribunal, all stemming from the manner in which he handled a previously imposed 18-month suspension which began October 17, 2005. That earlier suspension had arisen from his convictions for two charges of misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol, one charge of misdemeanor driving on a revoked license, and three felony charges of driving on a revoked license, all of which he failed to report to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission as required.

      The complaint in the instant action was filed October 17, 2007, alleging that, after the effective date of his earlier suspension, the attorney engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in the circuit court of Du Page County, that, during his earlier suspension, he engaged in unauthorized practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and that he made misrepresentations to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The Hearing Board found that misconduct had been proved and recommended suspension for two years. The Review Board recommended dismissal of all the charges, but the Administrator filed exceptions.

      In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court did not agree with what the Review Board had done. As to the alleged misrepresentation to the bankruptcy court, the supreme court did not reach the issue of whether there was “materiality” because this would not affect the decision as to the proper form of discipline and because the remaining counts are a sufficient basis for imposing discipline. As to his appearance before the Seventh Circuit, although the attorney contended otherwise, the supreme court said that it was “undisputed that respondent engaged in conduct that constituted the practice of law while his license was suspended ***. These acts were not inadvertent, they were intentional. The effect *** was to perpetrate a fraud up on the court.” Thus, he is subject to discipline. As to the circuit court of Du Page County, the supreme court said that it is undisputed that he practiced law there by his appearances after the effective date of his suspension. The supreme court concluded that the respondent violated the Rules of Professional Conduct and, in addition, that his unauthorized practice of law involved dishonesty or misrepresentation. The supreme court said that, if respondent attorney had any doubts about his status, he could have resolved them by placing a phone call to the Supreme Court clerk’s office.

      The supreme court suspended the attorney from the practice of law for one year and directed that he notify all other jurisdictions in which he is licensed.