lllinois discipline board recommends that former criminal prosecutor who engaged in inappropriate conduct toward a minor defendant and minor victim in separate criminal cases be disbarred

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss very recent report and recommendation of an Illinois discipline board that a former criminal prosecutor who engaged in inappropriate conduct with a defendant and victim in separate criminal cases should be disbarred.  The case is In the Matter of Hunter Logan, Illinois Disciplinary Commission No. 2011PR00047 No. 6296751 (11/30/12).  The report and recommendation is  at: http://www.iardc.org/HB_RB_Disp_Html.asp?id=10706.

According to the report and recommendation, the lawyer was admitted to practice law in Illinois in November 2008.  In February 2009, he began working as an assistant state attorney in Carroll County, assisting in the prosecution of misdemeanors and petty offenses.

In the first matter, before April 2, 2009, the lawyer was assigned to prosecute two cases involving K.I., a minor female. On March 9, 2009, K.I. entered a plea of guilty to the offense of minor drinking and was sentenced to 22 days incarceration with a 12 month period of conditional probation to follow.  K.I. was later arrested again and incarcerated in the county jail.  On October 21, 2009, the lawyer went to the jail and met with K.I. without being asked.  He discussed the new case and then asked her about her personal history.  K.I. told him that (among other things), she had a 37 year old boyfriend and was interested in photographic journalism.  K.I. also told the lawyer that she drank to intoxication almost daily, had experimented with controlled substance, and had poor relationships with her family.  This meeting lasted “a couple of” hours.

Between January 8, 2010 and January 14, 2010, the lawyer saw K.I. at the courthouse with her grandparents and she told him she was waiting to get admitted to a halfway house.  She also again told him about her interest in becoming a photographic journalist and the lawyer offered to lend her an old digital camera and told her to contact him about it.  About two weeks later, K.I. called the lawyer at the prosecutor’s office and they had a 25 to 40 minute personal conversation.  At the end of the conversation, the lawyer told K.I. that he would drop the camera off at her grandparents’ home.

On January 24, 2010, the lawyer drove to K.I.’s grandparents’ house where she was staying and asked her if she wanted to go with him to Wal-Mart.  K.I. testified that she thought his request was unusual because he was the prosecutor in her case, and she was afraid that if she did not go with him, he could create problems for her.  Before going to Wal-Mart, the lawyer stopped at Applebee’s restaurant.  A condition of K.I.’s probation on her first case was that she could not go to a restaurant that had a bar or be around alcohol and Applebee’s had a bar.  K.I. was also 19 years old and she had just completed an alcohol treatment program.  They were seated next to the bar, and the lawyer asked her if she wanted a drink.  She declined and thought the lawyer was trying to set her up or test her.

On the car ride back to her house, K.I. told the lawyer that she had “a crush on him forever” and he put his hand on her inner thigh and she “moved his hand away”.  The lawyer then tried to put his hand on her thigh a second time, K.I. moved it away again and told him to stop.  He then pulled into a gas station and when he got back into the car, he grabbed her chin and kissed her.  She pushed him away and he kissed her again.  He started to become agitated, and asked K.I. if they could go back to his apartment.  She said she wanted to go home, and he became more agitated.  K.I. then got out of the car and the lawyer agreed to drive her home and when she got home, she told her grandmother what had happened.

The following day, the lawyer sent four text messages to K.I., to which K.I. did not respond.  K.I. had no further contact with the lawyer and she showed the text messages to her probation officer. The probation officer then prepared and submitted a memo detailing the incident to the State’s Attorney and, on February 17, 2020, the State’s Attorney confronted the lawyer.  The lawyer did not deny the allegations or think he did anything wrong.  The State’s Attorney then told the lawyer he could no longer work for his office and the lawyer submitted his resignation on February 26, 2010.

In the second matter, a complaint was filed against A.F. in April 2009 charging him with violating a civil no contact order related to J.C., a minor female.  J.C.’s mother, Naomi, testified that A.F. physically and verbally abused J.C. and, as a result of that relationship, J.C. became emotionally unstable, attempted suicide and was admitted to an in-patient treatment program.  The lawyer met J.C. while prosecuting that case and, in June 2009, after additional investigation, the lawyer filed a two-count complaint charging A.F. with child pornography by photographing J.C. in several poses with her genitals exposed, with the intent to disseminate the photos.

After the charges were filed, J.C. developed a friendship with the lawyer and they saw each other once or twice a week.  He visited J.C.’s family at their home and the lawyer, J.C. and Naomi would also go out to eat.  By mid-July 2009, the lawyer asked State’s Attorney to remove him from the A.F. case because his impartiality in the matter had been questioned.  After discussing the matter with the lawyer, the State’s Attorney learned of the lawyer’s involvement with J.C., and told him to have no further contact with her or her family.

In late January 2010, after the lawyer was told to have no contact with her, J.C. went to the lawyer’s apartment.  At that time, J.C. was 17 years old and the lawyer was 34 years old.  The lawyer was lying down on the sofa on his side, and J.C. was lying down in front of him on her side.  The lawyer told J.C. he was having dirty thoughts, and began rubbing her side.  The lawyer then slipped his hand up J.C.’s blouse and touched her breast and she “panicked”, got up from the sofa, and said she had to go.  The lawyer grabbed her waist and asked her not to go and she then sat down next to the lawyer, kissed him, and left his apartment.  This was the only occasion that the lawyer had sexual contact with J.C.  The lawyer later told J.C.’s mother that he had kissed J.C. and she became angry and ordered him out of her house.

J.C. later testified that she trusted the lawyer and called him a “hero” on her MySpace page.  She also considered the lawyer to be her “knight in shining armor” because he was on her side in the A.F. matter when no one else was there for her.  After the lawyer left Carroll County in February 2010 (as a result of the K.I. incidents), J.C. thought he was a coward and she did not understand why he would leave her alone.  The lawyer did not explain why he left and J.C. had no contact with him after that.

On May 20, 2011, a two-count disciplinary complaint was filed against the lawyer and, on May 26, 2011, a first amended Complaint was filed, correcting an error in the original Complaint. The first amended Complaint alleged that the lawyer engaged in inappropriate conduct in the two above instances.  The first count alleged that the lawyer overreached his position of trust as a prosecutor when he engaged in the conduct related to minor defendant K.I.  The second count alleged that the lawyer engaged in an improper relationship with the minor victim J.C. and her family.

After conducting proceedings, the hearing panel recommended that the lawyer be found guilty of violating Illinois Bar Rules and that he be disbarred.  “We base this recommendation on the facts that Respondent was in a position of trust and authority, used that position to take advantage of vulnerable girls, and has demonstrated no acknowledgment of his misconduct.  We place substantial weight on Dr. Henry’s expert opinion that Respondent lacked an understanding of the relationship between an attorney and defendant or client, and that Respondent believed there was nothing wrong with the relationships he had with J.C. and K.I.  Most importantly, Dr. Henry concluded that without treatment, Respondent is at risk to engage in similar conduct in the future, especially with vulnerable and susceptible clients.  Given that attorneys meet and represent vulnerable and susceptible clients every day, Respondent is a threat to the community at large.  Accordingly, we find that the only way to protect the public from further misconduct is to disbar Respondent.”

Bottom line:  If the facts in the report are true, this prosecutor’s conduct is so wrong on so many levels.  What in the world could he have been thinking…or not thinking.

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

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

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Filed under Attorney discipline, Attorney Ethics, joe corsmeier, Lawyer conduct adversely affecting fitness to practice, Lawyer criminal conduct, Lawyer disbarment, Lawyer discipline, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, Prosecutor criminal conduct, Prosecutorial misconduct ethics

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