Hello welcome to this edition of the JACPA Ethics Alert blog which will discuss media reports that an Illinois Bar disciplinary panel has recommended that a former elected Illinois State’s Attorney be suspended from practice for 60 days for pulling a gun on a process server. The case is: In the Matter of: Allen W. James, Attorney-Respondent, No. 6239218, Commission No. 08 SH 105 (February 3, 2012).
According to the Report and Recommendation, the elected State’s Attorney for Union County, Illinois, Allen W. James, was approached by a process server to serve him with a personal lawsuit on March 19, 2008. The process server identified himself, displayed a badge, stated that he was a process server, and called the lawyer by name. The lawyer then pulled a loaded .380 semi-automatic handgun from his pocket and pointed it at the process server. The process server identified himself again, and the lawyer continued to point the gun at him. The process server then threw the summons and complaint at the lawyer’s feet and left.
The Report indicates that lawyer claimed that he put his hand on his .380 pistol because he feared for his safety after being approached by an unknown man; however, the lawyer, who had admitted that he had evaded service of a personal lawsuit at his office and home the previous day, either knew or had a strong suspicion that the man was a process server.
The lawyer was initially charged with two felonies but subsequently stipulated to a charge of misdemeanor aggravated assault at a bench trial. He was ordered to pay a $1,500.00 fine and forfeit the pistol and his record would be “cleared” if he successfully completed a period of supervision.
When asked if he was remorseful, the lawyer stated: “[t]his was a situation that I feel the process server, Mr. Dees, put me in” and “[a]s far as remorse over that incident, yeah, I’m sorry it happened, but again I didn’t put us in that position and nothing happened there that in my scheme is remorse.” The panel’s report states that it considered the lawyer’s lack of remorse to be a significant aggravating factor.
According to media reports the lawyer was narrowly defeated for reelection as State’s Attorney in the November 2008 election and he is now in private practice in Illinois.
Bottom line: a lawyer who pulls a gun on a process server might be prosecuted criminally and be suspended from practice and, if the lawyer is a state official, he or she may lose the next election…
…be careful out there!
| As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.
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