Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent Illinois Disciplinary Hearing Board Report and Recommendation which recommended a 6 month suspension for a lawyer who created a false Match.com dating profile for an opposing lawyer, falsely denied doing it, and posted false negative internet reviews on the same lawyer. The case is In re Drew Randolph Quitschau, Commission No. 2017PR00084 (June 6, 2018). The Report and Recommendation of the Hearing Board is here: https://www.iardc.org/rd_database/rulesdecisions.html.
A disciplinary complaint was filed against the lawyer on August 4, 2017. The complaint stated the lawyer was a partner in a law firm in Bloomington, Illinois until February 10, 2017 when he was terminated. The lawyer and another Illinois lawyer named Michelle Mosby-Scott had appeared as opposing counsel in 17 proceedings and both appeared as opposing counsel in seven proceedings between June 2016 and February 2017.
Count I of the complaint alleged that the lawyer engaged in dishonesty by creating a false profile on Match.com in the name of another attorney, without the other attorney’s permission, and making several false representations in that profile and also that the lawyer made a false statement to a partner at his law firm by denying any responsibility for the false profile. Counts II through V alleged that the lawyer engaged in dishonesty by using the Internet to register with organizations or subscribe to materials in the name of the same other attorney, without the other attorney’s permission. Counts VI and VII alleged that the lawyer engaged in dishonesty by posting on the Internet false and negative reviews of the professional ability of the same attorney. The disciplinary Complaint is here: https://www.iardc.org/17PR0084CM.html
According to the Report, the lawyer admitted to all of the misconduct allegations in his Answer to the complaint and the Hearing Board found that all misconduct charges were proven. A hearing was held on February 6 and March 2, 2018 and the Report further states:
“The Match.com profile created by Respondent included the following representations that Respondent knew were false: Mosby-Scott was separated from her husband; her children sometimes live with her; she smokes but is trying to quit; she regularly drinks alcohol; she is an agnostic; she is 56 years of age; she does not exercise and enjoys auto racing and motor cross; she has cats; and her favorite hot spots are the grocery store, all restaurants, the Pizza Ranch, all buffets, and NASCAR.
Also in September 2016, Respondent downloaded several photos of Mosby-Scott from her law firm website. He then uploaded those photos to the Match.com profile he created so that the photos could be viewed by the general public. Respondent knew the profile he created in Mosby-Scott’s name was false and knew she had not authorized him to create the profile, user name, password, or email address.
In early October 2016, Mosby-Scott became aware of the Match.com profile in her name. She filed a lawsuit requesting the court to provide her with the Internet Protocol (IP) address associated with the Match.com profile. On December 9, 2016, Match.com provided to Mosby-Scott that IP address. On January 20, 2017, Comcast, the Internet provider for the Thomson & Weintraub law firm gave written notice that the law firm’s IP address was used to create the false Match.com profile for Mosby-Scott. On the same date, Terrence Kelly, a partner at Thomson & Weintraub informed employees that the firm’s IP address was used to create the false profile. He also announced that the firm would be hiring a computer expert to examine all of the firm’s computers. On about the same date, Kelly asked Respondent whether he had created the false profile, and Respondent denied doing so. Respondent knew his statement to Kelly denying that Respondent created the profile in Mosby-Scott’s name was false.”
The Report states that the Board “discussed the seriousness of the misconduct, the aggravating and mitigating factors, and concluded that a fixed term of a suspension, even a lengthy one, will not adequately maintain the integrity of the legal profession or protect the administration of justice from reproach and recommended Respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six months and until further order of the Court.”
Bottom line: This lawyer admitted all of the bizarre allegations of misconduct in his Answer, including that he had created the Match.com profile “downloaded several photos of (the opposing lawyer) from her law firm website (and) then uploaded those photos to the Match.com profile he created so that the photos could be viewed by the general public” and lying to his law firm by denying that he created it. He also admitted posting false and negative reviews of the lawyer’s professional ability on the internet; however, there is nothing in the Complaint or Report which discusses the actual motives behind this very strange and inexplicable conduct by the lawyer. The Report and Recommendation will now be sent to the Illinois Supreme Court for review and a final opinion.
Be careful out there.
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Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
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