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.
THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.
PROVIDES ETHICS ADVICE AND EXPERT OPINIONS TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS
DEFENDS LAWYERS IN BAR MISSION AND DISCIPLINE CASES
(AND MUCH MORE!)
My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms. If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend the complaint or help you get your license.
If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (727) 799-1688 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find my law firm on the web at www.jac-law.com. In addition to handling individual cases, matters, problems and issues for my clients, I also am on retainer to provide ethics advice to numerous lawyers and law firms throughout the state of Florida. I also provide legal assistance and advice to numerous individuals and non-legal entities to help insure compliance with the law and rules related to UPL and other issues.
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
NOTICE OF CONFIDENTIALITY: This electronic communication and the information contained herein is legally privileged and confidential proprietary information intended only for the individual and/or entity to whom it is addressed pursuant to the American Bar Association Formal Opinion No. 99-413, dated March 10, 1999 and all other applicable laws and rules. If you receive this transmission in error, you are advised that any disclosure, copying, distribution, or the taking of any action in reliance upon the communication is strictly prohibited. Any unauthorized use, distribution, or disclosure of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this in error, please notify us immediately by return e-mail at the above telephone number and then delete message entirely from your system. Thank you for your cooperation.