Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the recent report and recommendation of an Illinois disciplinary hearing board that an Illinois lawyer be suspended for 5 months for posting an undercover video of an alleged drug transaction of his client on Youtube and alleged that the drugs were planted. The disciplinary case is In re Jesse Raymond Gilsdorf, Commission No. 2012PR00006 (June 4, 2013). The disciplinary Complaint is here: https://www.iardc.org/12PR0006CM.html and the Board’s Report and Recommendation is here: http://www.iardc.org/HB_RB_Disp_Html.asp?id=10978.
According to the Report and Recommendation, “the charges of misconduct arose out of the Respondent knowingly posting on an Internet site, and showing to others, a DVD video he received from the state’s attorney while representing a criminal defendant. The video showed the undercover drug transaction between Respondent’s client and a confidential police source. The Respondent entitled the video ‘Cops and Task Force Planting Drugs,’ which was false. By posting the video while his client’s criminal case was pending, Respondent intended to persuade residents of the county that the police or other government officials acted improperly in the prosecution of his client.
The Hearing Board found that the Respondent engaged in the misconduct charged in both counts. Specifically, he revealed information relating to the representation of a client without the informed consent of his client and without the disclosure being impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation; failed to reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished); made extrajudicial statements that the lawyer reasonably knows will be disseminated by means of public communication and would pose a serious and imminent threat to the fairness of an adjudicative proceeding; engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and engaged in conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.”
The report and recommendation of the hearing board will now be considered by the Illinois disciplinary review board and will ultimately be reviewed by the Illinois Supreme Court for a final disciplinary opinion.
Bottom line: This is another example of the use (or misuse) of social media potentially resulting in a lawyer’s discipline. Lawyers must be aware of the requirement of maintaining client confidentiality and the risk of making statements that are false about a client’s case as well as the inherent dangers of using social media in the lawyer’s practice.
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.
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