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Illinois Supreme Court

The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred 10 lawyers, suspended 32, censured four and issued reprimands to four others this week in its latest disciplinary filing. Most of the suspensions take effect on Oct. 13. More information on each case is available on the Web site of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

DISBARRED

  • James Joseph Bajgrowicz, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Mr. Bajgrowicz was licensed in Illinois in 1967 and in California in 1971. He was disbarred in California for practicing law while suspended for misconduct. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.
  • Ione Young Gray, Los Angeles
Ms. Gray was licensed in Illinois in 1974 and in California in 1977. She was disbarred in California after she sought renewal of her California real estate brokerage license by stating, under penalty of perjury, that she had not been convicted of any federal crimes, when she was convicted of charges of bank fraud and Social Security fraud the previous year. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred her.
  • Robert Stewart Greisman, Chicago
Mr. Greisman, who was licensed in Illinois in 1976, was disbarred on consent. He pled guilty in federal court to participating in the creation and marketing of tax shelters.
  • Mark Joel Helfand, Chicago
Mr. Helfand, who was licensed in 1971, was disbarred on consent. He was convicted of federal bank fraud and was sentenced to five months incarceration and five months home confinement, and he was ordered to pay $21,079 in restitution to a defrauded bank. The conviction was related to his participation in a real property flipping scheme.
  • Bartholomew John Kempff, Lincolnshire
Mr. Kempff, who was licensed in 2000, was disbarred on consent. He was convicted in state court of theft over $100,000. As the corporate attorney for a design firm, he misappropriated funds from the company's trust accounts and an investment fund.
  • Joseph Mathews, Chicago
Mr. Mathews, who was licensed in 2002, was disbarred. He misappropriated $28,000 in client funds, issued checks from his law office operating account when he knew there were insufficient funds in the account to honor those checks, continued to practice law after his name was removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys, failed to cooperate with the ARDC investigation, and failed to appear at the disciplinary hearing.
  • William Francis Prendergast, Chicago
Mr. Prendergast, who was licensed in 1990, was disbarred on consent. He failed to prosecute 24 different patent applications for his clients, then fabricated documents and made false statements to conceal his inaction from those clients, other attorneys, and the federal patent office.
  • John Carl Stambulis, Elmwood Park
Mr. Stambulis, who was licensed in 1961, was disbarred on consent. He pled guilty to federal tax fraud conspiracy and was sentenced to a two-year prison term for his role in creating and marketing illusory trusts.
  • William E. Wells, Marion
Mr. Wells, who was licensed in 1998, was disbarred on consent. He agreed to negotiate debts or file bankruptcy proceedings for 23 different clients who had serious financial problems. Subsequently, he provided little or no services for the clients and did not refund their fees. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Illinois eventually suspended him from practice in that court. In response to the order, Mr. Wells sent letters to his clients telling them that the suspension was merely temporary and that they would have to pay "probably a lot of extra money" if they obtained different counsel.
  • Lorie Keena Westerfield, Chicago
Ms. Westerfield, who was licensed in 1995, was disbarred on consent, retroactive to the date of her interim suspension. She was convicted of federal wire fraud after she participated in a scheme to cause individuals experiencing financial problems to sell their homes as part of a leaseback arrangement. She was sentenced to a five-year term of probation and was ordered to pay restitution of $116,147 to a defrauded bank. She was suspended on an interim basis on Sept. 23, 2008.
From the Supreme Court: The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism broke new ground during 2008 with a watershed lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring program for new attorneys in the 17th Judicial Circuit. That is one highlight of the Commission's annual report, approved this week by the Illinois Supreme Court during its September term. The full report will be disseminated widely across the state to members of the bench, the bar and to legal organizations. The pilot mentoring program in collaboration with the 17thCircuit, which includes Winnebago and Boone counties, pairs every newly admitted lawyer with a more experienced lawyer for a year-long structured apprenticeship. Under the leadership of Chief Judge Janet Holmgren, the 17th Judicial Circuit also has created a Peer Review Council composed of members of the Winnebago and Boone County Bar Associations to review complaints against lawyers and judges whose behavior violates the voluntary code of conduct, Statement of Professional Aspirations, adopted by that legal community the prior year.
Gov. Pat Quinn announced Wednesday he is restoring $16 million to the budget of the Illinois Supreme Court to aid probationary services in the state, which had been cut 44 percent in the current budget. Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald expressed gratitude to the governor. Earlier this month, the Chief Justice had written to the Governor, urging restoration of funds for the sake of public safety. He and Administrative Director Cynthia Y. Cobbs of the Illinois Courts also had met with the Governor's chief of staff to discuss restoration of funds. "I am grateful to the Governor for the consideration he has given to restoring badly needed funds for statewide probation services," the Chief Justice said. "The partial restoration will help probation officers around the state in supervising the thousands of defendants placed on probation each year."
Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald of the Illinois Supreme Court has released the contents of a letter he wrote to Gov. Pat Quinn urging him to restore severe budget cuts to probation services, saying the current level of state funding is “dangerously inadequate.” The Chief Justice wrote the letter on September 1 to “respectfully request your restoration of funding to a level that allows probation to do its critical work for Illinois’ citizens and communities.” In the budget approved by the Governor, funds appropriated to the Supreme Court for community-based probation programs in 2010 totaled $36,485,500 – a 44 percent reduction from the 2009 allocation. The reduced 2010 allocation follows a 2005 budget cut of 13 percent for probation services, which despite repeated requests by the Supreme Court, has never been restored. “The practical effect of diminishing appropriations is that probation officers must be laid off, criminal offenders sentenced to probation receive inadequate or no supervision, and the public safety is thereby  severely compromised,” the Chief Justice wrote. The Chief Justice said he is aware that the state’s economic difficulties are more serious than any he has known in his 30 years of public service and is sensitive to the heavy burden the Governor bears in distributing limited fiscal resources. “I make this request only after careful deliberation and out of the most grave concerns for the public safety of Illinois’ citizens,” the Chief Justice wrote.
The Illinois Supreme Court building at 200 E. Capitol Ave., Springfield
The Illinois Supreme Court building at 200 E. Capitol Ave., Springfield
The Illinois Supreme Court building was completed in 1908. The first floor holds the offices for the clerk of the court. The courtroom used by the Illinois Supreme Court and an Appellate Courtroom are on the second floor. This floor also contains a law library. The third floor is closed to the public. It has living quarters that the justices use while they are in session. Address: 200 E. Capitol Avenue, Springfield Year built: 1908 Cost: $450,000 Architect: W. Carbys Zimmerman Click here to view our photo tour
Illinois State Bar Association General Counsel Charles Northrup highlights two of what he thinks are the most important changes from today's Illinois Supreme Court adoption of the New Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers:
  • "One of the most significant, if not the most significant, aspect of the adopted Rules is that they contain official comments. The comments give attorneys a readily accessible interpretation and explanation of the intent of the Rules. It will be an additional and important guide for lawyers when they are determining what their ethical obligations are."
  • "Another important aspect of the new Rules is the treatment of the Dowling case and the issue of flat or fixed fees. Many practioners were concerned about the treatment of these types of fees under Dowling and whether they fell within the definition of 'advanced payment retainers.' The new Rules clarify that flat or fixed fees are not advanced payment retainers, a position that was advocated by the ISBA."
More highlights from the Supreme Court's New Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers Announcement for the New Rules of Professional Conduct
A press release from the Illinois Supreme Court highlights some of the most important changes wrought by the new Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. For example, the new rules "clarif[y] the earlier law and eliminate certain restrictions on the reasons for sale" of a law practice, "prohibit a lawyer from having sexual relations with a client unless a prior sexual relationship existed," and "[f]or the first time ... explicitly govern electronic [lawyer advertising] communications such as e-mail and websites." Here are the full highlights from the Illinois Supreme Court: 1. New Rules The Supreme Court of Illinois has adopted a number of ethics rules that have not appeared in any previously enacted conduct code. The new rules include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • a) New Rule 1.18. Describes important duties that lawyers owe to a prospective client arising from preliminary discussions before the creation of a formal lawyer-client relationship;
  • b) New Rule 2.4. Defines the duties of a lawyer who serves as a third-party neutral, such as a mediator or arbitrator;
  • c) New Rule 3.9. Articulates the duties of an advocate in a nonadjudicative proceeding, such as before a legislative body or an administrative agency;
  • d) New Rule 4.4(b). Addresses how a lawyer should respond when the lawyer receives a document that was inadvertently submitted to the lawyer;
2. Comments to the New Rules The new ethics rules contain comments that attempt to explain the rules, refer to court decisions relating to the rules and assist the lawyer in complying with the rules. The rules are authoritative; the comments serve as a guide.
Big, big news: the Illinois Supreme Court just announced new Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct that take effect next January. This is huge, and we'll have analysis for you as soon as we can pull it together, and for weeks -- and months and probably years -- to come.
Jayne Reardon
Jayne Reardon
The Illinois Supreme Court announced today that Jayne Reardon has been appointed as executive director of the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, a body established to improve civility between and among lawyers, their clients and judges in Illinois. Ms. Reardon, a University of Michigan Law School graduate who is an experienced Illinois lawyer and licensed to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, has served as deputy director of the commission since 2006. During that time, she has been a key formulator of policy approved by the Commission and a facilitator of quality continuing legal education in the area of professional responsibility. Supreme Court Justice Robert R. Thomas initiated the concept of the Commission to improve professionalism among lawyers and judges, and the full Supreme Court established the Commission in 2005. The Commission has achieved its goals with limited staff and budget. No taxpayers dollars are involved as the Commission is funded by a small portion of the annual registration and licensing fees paid by Illinois attorneys.
junebarjournal1... or the deputy, for that matter. But the Illinois Supreme Court did make employment law a little claimant-friendlier with its recent ruling in Sangamon County Sheriff's Department v Illinois Human Rights Commission. The justices held that employers are liable for sexual harassment by supervisors whether or not the employer knew about it and even though the employee-victim doesn't work under the supervisor. Read about it in the June Illinois Bar Journal and the June Labor and Employment Law newsletter.