An Illinois Lawyer Registration and Disciplinary Fee (ARDC) evaluate board on Might 15, 2019, upheld a earlier listening to board’s findings of dishonesty towards Robert Ronald Czarnik, an lawyer for the location acquisition regulation agency Lora, Chanthadouangsy, and Castellano (LCC), and suspended him for 4 months.
ARDC had beforehand introduced a five-count grievance towards Czarnik, charging him with, amongst different issues, partaking in dishonest conduct by fabricating paperwork and sending them to shoppers.
Following a listening to, it was discovered that Czarnik had fabricated paperwork in two situations, however had not engaged in different fees of falsifying two constructing permits.
Czarnik was creating a number of websites for SBA Communications (SBA) in October 2014 and submitted purposes for 2 websites to constructing departments on property in Pekin and Trivoli, however they have been returned to him due to lacking info.
He then requested his assistant, Eric Laugesen, who was not an lawyer, to comply with up and supply the extra info, in accordance with the panel’s report under.
On Oct. 9, 2014, an SBA worker was emailed copies of the Pekin and Trivoli permits from Czarnik’s e mail tackle. Nevertheless, it was later found that the permits weren’t legitimate.
A pc forensics professional decided that somebody utilizing Czarnik’s laptop computer and consumer profile despatched the permits. Each Czarnik and Laugesen denied sending the paperwork and the listening to board felt that there wasn’t enough proof for these two expenses.
Nevertheless, Czarnik was discovered by the listening to board to have offered SBA with cast entry and testing (E&T) agreements for 2 different cell tower websites in Monmouth and Morton on October 9 as properly.
The Monmouth E&T that SBA executed had the identify “Ken Helms” with the title “Director” and a signature for Helms because the property proprietor. It was later discovered that Ken Helms is the Metropolis of Monmouth’s Director of Info Know-how who stated he didn’t signal it.
The Morton E&T identify block had “L Corridor” and was signed “Lindsey Corridor” with the title “Principal”.
Nevertheless Corridor was a faculty district superintendent and stated he neither signed it nor had anybody signal the doc for him.
Czarnik stated he despatched these agreements to SBA, however testified that he had no information that they have been cast since he had Laugesen deal with getting the signed paperwork. Laugesen stated though he labored on the websites, he didn’t get the E&Ts signed.
A forensic doc examiner and handwriting professional, examined the signatures and printing on the purported E&T agreements, and in contrast that writing with recognized handwriting from Czarnik. She testified at listening to that it was extremely possible that he had positioned the signatures and printing on each agreements.
Filed Might 15, 2019
In re Robert Ronald Czarnik
Fee No. 2016PR00131
Synopsis of Assessment Board Report and Suggestion
The Administrator introduced a five-count grievance towards Respondent, charging him with, amongst different issues, partaking in dishonest conduct by fabricating paperwork and sending them to shoppers. The Listening to Board discovered that Respondent had fabricated paperwork in two situations, however had not engaged within the different charged misconduct. It beneficial that Respondent be suspended for 4 months.
Each the Administrator and Respondent appealed. The Administrator requested the Evaluation Board to reverse the Listening to Board’s findings of no dishonesty in two different situations, and to advocate a suspension of a minimum of six months. Respondent requested the Evaluation Board to reverse the Listening to Board’s findings of misconduct and dismiss the grievance towards him, or, within the various, to advocate a suspension of between two and 4 months.
The Evaluate Board affirmed the Listening to Board’s findings of dishonesty in addition to its findings of no dishonesty, discovering that they have been sufficiently supported by proof. The Evaluate Board additionally agreed with the Listening to Board’s suggestion that Respondent be suspended for 4 months for his misconduct.
BEFORE THE REVIEW BOARD
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
Within the Matter of:
ROBERT RONALD CZARNIK,
Fee No. 2016PR00131
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE REVIEW BOARD
The Administrator introduced a five-count grievance towards Respondent, charging him with, amongst different issues, partaking in dishonest conduct by fabricating paperwork and sending them to shoppers. Following a listening to at which Respondent was represented by counsel, the Listening to Board discovered that Respondent had fabricated paperwork in two situations, however had not engaged within the different charged misconduct. For his misconduct, the Listening to Board beneficial that Respondent be suspended for 4 months.
Each the Administrator and Respondent appealed. The Administrator asks this Board to reverse the Listening to Board’s findings that he did not show dishonesty in two different situations, and to advocate a suspension of a minimum of six months. Respondent asks this Board to reverse the Listening to Board’s findings of dishonesty and dismiss the grievance towards him, or, within the various, to advocate a suspension of between two and 4 months.
For the explanations that comply with, we affirm all the Listening to Board’s findings relating to misconduct, and agree with its suggestion that Respondent be suspended for 4 months.
The details concerned on this matter are absolutely set forth within the Listening to Board’s report. As they’re comparatively in depth, they’re summarized right here to the extent mandatory to deal with the events’ appeals.
Respondent and His Work at LCC
Respondent was admitted to apply in Illinois in Might 2012. In August 2012, he started working for the regulation agency of Lora, Chanthadouangsy, and Castellano (LCC). LCC represents companies working in mobile telecommunications. Its follow was to rent new regulation faculty graduates with no expertise and practice them on the job, which usually consisted of working with one other extra skilled lawyer for 90 days. Respondent’s coaching was a lot shorter, because the skilled lawyer to whom he was assigned left the agency shortly after Respondent started. Thus, in September 2012, Respondent was made a venture supervisor.
As undertaking supervisor, Respondent was answerable for representing LCC shoppers in acquiring constructing permits, leases, entry and testing (“E&T”) agreements, and zoning approval for mobile telecommunications gear. Respondent additionally was chargeable for speaking with shoppers, acquiring their directions, and assigning work to his staff.
In the summertime of 2014, Respondent’s workload elevated dramatically. Amongst different issues, work that had been divided between Respondent and one other venture supervisor was assigned completely to Respondent when the opposite undertaking supervisor left the agency. As well as, in September 2014, each of Respondent’s workforce members left, which left Respondent as the one individual on his workforce for a short while and resulted in Respondent having problem assembly deadlines and finishing work. Someday earlier than October 2014, Eric Laugesen, who was not an lawyer, was assigned to Respondent’s staff. Previous to being assigned to Respondent’s group, Laugesen had labored at LCC for 2 months as a part of the zoning group, which assisted your complete agency in zoning issues. Thereafter, Respondent and Laugesen have been the one two members of Respondent’s staff.
Respondent was accused of partaking in dishonesty by fabricating two constructing permits and two E&T agreements. The Listening to Board discovered no dishonesty as to the 2 constructing permits, from which the Administrator appeals. It discovered dishonesty as to the 2 E&T agreements, from which Respondent appeals.1
Fabrication of the Pekin and Trivoli Constructing Permits
Certainly one of LCC’s shoppers, SBA Communications Corp. (SBA), was in search of to construct cellphone towers on property in Pekin, Illinois and Trivoli, Illinois, which required permits from the respective counties. LCC assigned duty for acquiring these permits to Respondent, who delegated the duty of making use of for the permits to Laugesen. Laugesen ready and submitted the purposes with supporting paperwork. Each purposes have been returned as a result of sure gadgets have been lacking.
In each situations, Respondent knew the allow purposes had been returned and that follow-up was required. He testified that he delegated duty for follow-up motion to Laugesen; thought the excellent info was submitted; and thought that LCC had acquired the permits. Laugesen, nevertheless, testified that it was Respondent and never he who was liable for following up with and acquiring the lacking info from the shopper.
On October 9, an SBA worker acquired two separate e-mails, ostensibly from Respondent, one with a doc purporting to be a constructing allow issued to the shopper for the Pekin website, and one with a doc purporting to be a constructing allow issued to the shopper for the Trivoli website. The hooked up constructing permits weren’t legitimate. A pc forensics professional decided that the paperwork have been fabricated by somebody utilizing Respondent’s laptop computer and consumer profile, and e-mailed from Respondent’s laptop computer and e-mail account. Each Respondent and Laugesen denied creating and sending the permits.
Fabrication of Monmouth and Morton E&T agreements
SBA additionally retained LCC to acquire E&T agreements for potential cellphone towers in Monmouth, Illinois and Morton, Illinois. LCC assigned to Respondent the duty for acquiring the E&T agreements, which might permit SBA to check whether or not the websites can be appropriate for its objective earlier than executing leases for the property.
Respondent testified that he delegated the duty of getting the E&T agreements to Laugesen, and that he routinely had his workforce get signatures on E&T agreements and that Laugesen had achieved so earlier than. He testified that he adopted up with Laugesen and thought the agreements had been signed.
Laugesen testified that he recalled engaged on the Monmouth website however thought the work was restricted to zoning issues and didn’t embrace an E&T settlement, however he was not sure. He testified that he didn’t consider he had been given any duties with respect to the Morton E&T settlement however acknowledged that he may need been concerned with that settlement.
On October 9, 2014, Respondent despatched an e-mail to an SBA worker with a doc that presupposed to be an E&T settlement for the Monmouth website, and which SBA executed on October 10. The identify “Ken Helms,” with the title “Director,” was signed and printed within the place for the signature of the property proprietor. Ken Helms is the Metropolis of Monmouth’s Director of Info and Know-how. He didn’t signal the doc or authorize anybody else to signal it.
Additionally on October 9, 2014, Respondent communicated with SBA staff by way of e-mail and indicated that, the day prior, he had mailed a doc that presupposed to be an E&T settlement for the Morton website, and which SBA executed on October 10. On that doc, within the place for the property proprietor’s signature, the identify “L. Corridor” was signed with the identify “Lindsey Corridor” and the title “Principal” printed beneath. Lindsey Corridor was a faculty district superintendent employed by the Morton faculty district on whose property the Morton website was situated. Corridor didn’t signal the doc or authorize anybody else to signal it.
Diane Marsh, a forensic doc examiner and handwriting professional, examined the signatures and printing on the purported E&T agreements, and in contrast that writing with recognized handwriting from Respondent. She testified at listening to that it was extremely possible that Respondent had positioned the signatures and printing on the purported Monmouth and Morton E&T agreements.
Respondent acknowledged sending the paperwork to SBA, however denied signing the paperwork or figuring out that the signatures had been fabricated.
HEARING BOARD’S FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
Fabrication of the Pekin and Trivoli Constructing Permits
The Listening to Board discovered that the Administrator had not met his burden of proof with respect to the Pekin and Trivoli permits. It discovered that a pc forensic professional linked the preparation and transmission of the permits to Respondent’s laptop computer and consumer profile, however that the proof didn’t clearly and convincingly set up that Respondent was the individual utilizing his laptop computer on the related time. Considerably, it accepted Respondent’s testimony that he had given his workforce entry to his laptop computer and password; that he had left his laptop computer in his workplace on the morning in query; and that he was possible not within the workplace when the allow was created and the e-mail despatched.
Noting that Laugesen was the one different individual immediately concerned with the permits to testify, the Listening to Board rejected Laugesen’s testimony. It said that it questioned the general reliability of Laugesen’s testimony, noting that it recognized inconsistencies in his testimony and that his testimony diverged from different credible proof about issues that have been largely uncontroverted, such because the agency’s workload and the impression of a associate’s sickness. It thus discovered his recollection of important occasions to not be sufficiently dependable to beat Respondent’s opposite testimony.
The Listening to Board thus concluded that the Administrator had not proved that Respondent violated Rule eight.four(c) in reference to the constructing permits.
Fabrication of the Monmouth and Morton E&T Agreements
The Listening to Board discovered that the Administrator had proved that Respondent violated Rule eight.four(c) by knowingly affixing unauthorized signatures to the E&T agreements and sending them to the shopper. It famous that Helms and Corridor didn’t signal the agreements or authorize anybody else to take action, and subsequently that the one contested challenge was whether or not Respondent had signed their names to the paperwork. It discovered Marsh’s testimony credible and her opinion “very properly supported.” (Listening to Bd. Report at 33.) The Listening to Board thus accepted Marsh’s testimony regardless of Respondent’s denials. Based mostly on Marsh’s testimony, her report, and its personal assessment of the paperwork, it concluded that Respondent wrote the questioned names and signatures, and subsequently that the Administrator had proved dishonesty.
The Listening to Board beneficial that Respondent be suspended for 4 months. It famous that Respondent had engaged in critical misconduct by signing one other individual’s identify to 2 separate paperwork figuring out that he didn’t have the authority to take action. It discovered the intentionality of his conduct troubling, notably because it had occurred twice.
Nevertheless, it rejected the Administrator’s request for a extra extreme sanction, noting that it had not discovered all the misconduct that was charged. It additionally famous some mitigating elements, together with that Respondent had cooperated in his disciplinary proceedings and, notably, that Respondent’s misconduct had occurred inside an remoted and finite time period (certainly, it occurred over a number of days in October 2014). In aggravation, it thought-about testimony that SBA terminated LCC’s illustration as a consequence of Respondent’s conduct, however didn’t give that issue a lot weight as a result of it discovered that the proof steered that a number of elements past Respondent’s management contributed to the shopper’s dissatisfaction with LCC.
The Listening to Board discovered that, based mostly on the proof as an entire, Respondent’s general demeanor, and favorable character testimony, Respondent’s “incidents of misconduct don’t symbolize [his] typical conduct,” however have been “a response, albeit a clearly inappropriate one, to a very troublesome state of affairs during which Respondent turned overwhelmed and couldn’t sustain.” (Listening to Bd. Report at 47.) It thus discovered that Respondent is just not more likely to interact in misconduct sooner or later, and that a four-month suspension would adequately serve the needs of lawyer self-discipline.
The Administrator challenges the Listening to Board’s findings that he did not show dishonesty in reference to the Pekin and Trivoli constructing permits, arguing that these findings are towards the manifest weight of the proof. Respondent challenges the Listening to Board’s findings that the Administrator proved dishonesty as to the Monmouth and Morton E&T agreements on the identical foundation.
In essence, the events ask this Board to revisit the factual findings of the Listening to Board, in that they object to the Listening to Board’s determinations of credibility, findings relating to the reliability of an professional’s opinion, and different fact-finding judgments. Underneath our normal of evaluation, nevertheless, the difficulty just isn’t merely whether or not we disagree with the Listening to Board’s factual conclusions or may need reached a unique conclusion if we had been the triers of reality. Quite, we defer to the factual findings of the Listening to Board, and won’t disturb them until they’re towards the manifest weight of the proof. In re Timpone, 157 Unwell.second 178, 196, 623 N.E.second 300 (1993). A factual discovering is towards the manifest weight of the proof the place the other conclusion is clearly evident or the discovering seems unreasonable, arbitrary, or not based mostly on the proof. Leonardi v. Loyola College, 168 Ailing. second 83, 106, 658 N.E.second 450 (1995); Bazydlo v. Volant, 164 Unwell. second 207, 215, 647 N.E.second 273 (1995). That the other conclusion is cheap isn’t enough. In re Winthrop, 219 Ailing. second 526, 542, 848 N.E. second 961 (2006).
Furthermore, whereas we give deference to all the Listening to Board’s factual determinations, we achieve this notably to these in regards to the credibility of witnesses, as a result of the Listening to Board is ready to observe the testimony of witnesses – which we aren’t – and subsequently is in a superior place to evaluate their demeanor, decide their credibility, and consider conflicts of their testimony. In re Kleczek, 05 SH 24 (Evaluation Bd., June 1, 2007), at eight, petitions for depart to file exceptions denied, M.R. 21745 (Sept. 18, 2007) (citing In re Spak, 188 Ailing.second 53, 66, 719 N.E.second 747 (1999); In re Wigoda, 77 Sick.second 154, 158, 395 N.E.second 571 (1979)).
Based mostly upon this normal of evaluate, we affirm the Listening to Board’s discovering of no misconduct with respect to the constructing permits, in addition to its discovering of dishonesty with respect to the E&T agreements, as a result of we can’t discover that the other conclusions are clearly evident, nor that the Listening to Board’s findings are unreasonable, arbitrary, or not based mostly on the proof. Somewhat, we consider the Listening to Board completely thought-about and weighed all the proof that was introduced to it, resolved conflicts within the testimony and made credibility determinations to which we defer, and based mostly its findings of misconduct on proof within the document. Even when we might have reached totally different conclusions have been we the trier of reality, we discover no foundation for overturning its findings.
1. The Listening to Board didn’t err find the Administrator did not show dishonesty as to the Pekin and Trivoli permits
The crux of the Administrator’s argument on attraction is that the Listening to Board did not reconcile its acceptance of Respondent’s testimony as to the constructing permits with its discovering that he falsified signatures on the E&T agreements. The Administrator argues that, given Respondent’s false testimony concerning the E&T agreements, which the Listening to Board correctly rejected, the Listening to Board additionally ought to have rejected his testimony that he didn’t falsify the Pekin and Trivoli constructing permits, which was both contradicted by different testimony or was objectively suspect.
In his briefs and at oral argument, the Administrator detailed the proof that he contends ought to have induced the Listening to Board to reject Respondent’s testimony. Amongst different issues, he notes the timing of varied e-mails despatched by Respondent on the morning of October 9, which he contends exhibits that Respondent was on his LCC laptop computer on the time the phony permits have been created. He additionally argues that the shut proximity in time between the creation and transmission of all 4 paperwork helps the conclusion that Respondent fabricated the constructing permits in addition to the E&T agreements in an effort to persuade SBA that he was assembly his obligations.
We agree with the Administrator that there’s proof within the document that might help a discovering of dishonesty as to the constructing permits. Nevertheless, as a result of the Listening to Board reached the other discovering, the query earlier than us isn’t whether or not the report accommodates proof that may help a discovering of dishonesty. The query is whether or not the report incorporates proof that helps the Listening to Board’s discovering of no dishonesty. We consider it does.
Find Respondent’s testimony to be credible and Laugesen’s testimony to be unreliable, the Listening to Board cited the elements and proof that led to its credibility determinations. Except for the apparent remark that the Listening to Board had a chance to see and listen to the witnesses and subsequently is in a greater place than we’re to make credibility findings, we word that the Listening to Board relied on different proof to help its credibility findings.
The Listening to Board additionally discovered quite a few gaps within the Administrator’s proof that created doubt as as to if Respondent created and despatched the false permits. Particularly, it was involved with what quantities to a basic chain of custody challenge regarding Respondent’s laptop computer, mentioning that eight months handed between October 20, 2014, when LCC retrieved Respondent’s laptop computer, and June 2015, when the pc forensics skilled acquired it; that LCC personnel together with Laugesen had entry to the laptop computer throughout that point; that nobody testified about what had occurred to the laptop computer throughout that point; and that Laugesen was certainly one of LCC’s staff who collected and reviewed Respondent’s information and e-mails for the agency’s investigation towards Respondent. Given all the proof relied upon by the Listening to Board, we can’t say that its findings have been arbitrary, unreasonable, or not based mostly on the proof, nor that an reverse conclusion was clearly evident.
Recognizing that he’s asking this Board to reverse a credibility discovering, the Administrator analogizes this matter to In re Holzman, 2016PR00099 (Assessment Bd., Nov. 19, 2018), petitions for depart to file exceptions allowed however affirmed in related half, M.R. 29677 (March 19, 2019), during which this Board reversed the Listening to Board’s conclusion that the respondent had testified credibly that his shopper had allowed him to maintain a bond refund.
In Holzman, the respondent was charged with deceiving a shopper a few bond refund by retaining all the bond refund after telling the shopper he would return a part of the bond refund to him; and with making a false supplemental retainer settlement as to that shopper. The Listening to Board discovered that the respondent had engaged in dishonesty by fabricating the supplemental retainer settlement, however had not engaged in dishonesty as to the bond refund. It discovered credible the respondent’s testimony that the shopper had agreed to let him have the bond refund, and rejected the opposite testimony of the shopper and his mom. Id. at 10-11.
This Board affirmed the Listening to Board’s discovering that the respondent had fabricated the supplemental retainer settlement, however reversed the Listening to Board’s discovering of no misconduct as to the bond refund. This Board reasoned that the Listening to Board had given no cause by any means for its credibility findings and had did not reconcile its discovering that the respondent had testified credibly concerning the bond refund with its discovering that he had fabricated the supplemental charge settlement. This Board additionally discovered that the Listening to Board erred in rejecting the testimony of the shopper and his mom, which was internally constant and in step with their conduct on the time of the occasions. Id. at 15-18.
The Administrator argues that the current matter presents an identical state of affairs. He contends that Respondent lied to the Listening to Board when he denied signing Ken Helms’ and Lindsey Corridor’s names on the Monmouth and Morton E&T agreements. He factors out that the fabricated Pekin and Trivoli permits have been created on Respondent’s laptop computer, utilizing his password, inside days of the E&T agreements’ transmission. He contends that Respondent’s declare that different staff had and used his password was contradicted by the testimony of certainly one of LCC’s founding companions in addition to Laugesen, and that his testimony that he was not within the workplace on the time the paperwork have been created was uncorroborated and extremely suspect. He thus argues that Holzman helps reversing the Listening to Board’s findings that Respondent didn’t create and ship the counterfeit Pekin and Trivoli permits.
The Administrator is right that there are some similarities between Holzman and this matter. Nevertheless, there are salient variations between the 2 instances that we consider require a special consequence on this matter.
First, in Holzman, the Evaluation Board reversed the Listening to Board’s discovering that the respondent testified credibly partially as a result of the Listening to Board gave no foundation in any respect for its discovering. On this matter, in distinction, the Listening to Board clearly articulated its reasoning, which was grounded within the proof, for why it gave credence to Respondent’s testimony and rejected Laugesen’s opposite testimony.
Second, probably the most vital a part of the Assessment Board’s reasoning in reversing the Listening to Board’s credibility discovering was that the respondent’s ostensibly credible testimony included testimony concerning the fabricated supplemental retainer settlement as if it have been genuine and as help for his declare to the bond refund. The Evaluate Board reasoned:
. . . That discovering is completely at odds with its discovering that Respondent fabricated the supplemental retainer settlement, which, in distinction, has agency help within the document. The Listening to Board made no try and reconcile these two findings. Notably, the Listening to Board didn’t tackle the truth that, throughout his direct examination, Respondent testified at size concerning the supplemental payment settlement as the first help for his declare that Adams and Isom had agreed to show over the whole bond refund to him.
Moreover, not solely did the Listening to Board make no try and reconcile its findings, however we overlook any means through which it logically might achieve this. We consider it was inherently inconsistent for the Listening to Board to seek out that Respondent testified credibly concerning the revised charge settlement when his purportedly “credible” testimony included testimony a few doc that the Listening to Board discovered was fabricated and fraudulently signed.
Id. at 16.
On this matter, in distinction, aside from casting doubt on his credibility general, Respondent’s testimony concerning the E&T agreements was largely unrelated to his testimony concerning the constructing permits. The truth that the E&T agreements and constructing permits have been created considerably contemporaneously definitely is suspect, however suspicion can’t substitute for or supplant proof. See Winthrop, 219 Ailing. second at 550 (quoting In re Lane, 127 Ailing. second 90, 111, 535 N.E.second 866 (1989) (whereas circumstances might arouse suspicion, “?suspicious circumstances, standing alone, aren’t adequate to warrant self-discipline’”).
Thus, we discover Holzman sufficiently distinguishable from this matter such that it doesn’t compel the identical conclusion. The elements that led this Board to reverse the Listening to Board’s credibility discovering in Holzman – no proof in any respect in help of the credibility discovering and findings that have been inherently and irreconcilably contradictory – are absent right here.
It’s obvious from the Listening to Board’s reasoning that it held the Administrator strictly to his burden of proof on the misconduct costs relating to the Pekin and Trivoli constructing permits, and tried to silo these misconduct fees by not permitting its findings relating to the E&T agreements to spill over into its evaluation of the constructing permits. We see no flaw in its evaluation. Somewhat, we commend its adherence to the regulation relating to the Administrator’s burden of proof, which is a heavy one which requires a excessive degree of certainty. In re Petti, 00 CH 28 (Evaluation Bd., Aug. 28, 2002), at four, accredited and confirmed, M.R. 18446 (Jan. 23, 2003). It doesn’t permit the Administrator to show misconduct based mostly upon suspicious circumstances however inadequate proof just because he introduced satisfactory proof as to a different cost. See id. (noting that report have to be free from doubt and that the Administrator’s burden isn’t met merely by proof of suspicious circumstances) (citing In re Mitgang, 385 Ailing. 311, 52 N.E.second 807 (1944)).
As a result of it discovered shortcomings within the Administrator’s proof relating to the constructing permits, and since it made credibility findings in favor of Respondent, the Listening to Board discovered that the Administrator had not met his burden of proof on the fees associated to the constructing permits. On this sense, this matter is akin to In re Conrad, 2015PR00030 (Evaluation Bd., Sept. 21, 2018), petition for depart to file exceptions denied, M.R. 29576 (Jan. 29, 2019), the place, regardless of the existence of a lot proof that would have supported a discovering of misconduct, the Evaluation Board deferred to the Listening to Board’s discovering that the respondent testified credibly, and affirmed the Listening to Board’s discovering of no misconduct.
As in Conrad, we defer to the Listening to Board’s findings of reality, and notably to its findings relating to credibility. Whereas the proof may need supported a unique consequence, our commonplace of evaluation doesn’t allow us to succeed in one the place the Listening to Board’s conclusions are supported by proof. We consider they’re, and subsequently affirm them.
2. The Listening to Board didn’t err find that the Administrator proved that Respondent improperly affixed unauthorized signatures to the Monmouth and Morton E&T agreements
Respondent argues that, when it got here to the Monmouth and Morton E&T agreements, the Listening to Board disregarded its credibility findings and as an alternative relied solely on the testimony of Diane Marsh, the Administrator’s handwriting skilled, to conclude that Respondent had affixed signatures to the E&T agreements with out authority. He argues that the Listening to Board ought to have utilized the identical credibility evaluation that it engaged in relating to the Pekin and Trivoli constructing permits to the Monmouth and Morton E&T agreements, and that its failure to take action was manifest error.
Respondent additionally argues that Marsh’s testimony was not clear and convincing. He notes that she admitted that her opinion was restricted as a result of she solely had copies of the questioned paperwork; that it was lower than perfect that the handwriting exemplars have been obtained from Respondent two years after the E&T agreements have been signed; that she acknowledged that her opinions have been largely based mostly on a single “h” in a single phrase out of the 43 pages of exemplars she examined; and that the Administrator by no means offered her with handwriting exemplars of anybody else for comparability. He thus argues that, in mild of the Listening to Board’s credibility findings as to Respondent and Laugesen, which apply equally to the E&T agreements, Marsh’s testimony was inadequate to help the conclusion that Respondent engaged in dishonest conduct, and subsequently that the Listening to Board’s findings have been towards the manifest weight of the proof.
With respect to the E&T agreements, the Listening to Board famous that the one challenge was whether or not Respondent, who acknowledged sending the E&T Agreements to SBA, had signed Helms’ and Corridor’s names to the paperwork. He testified he had not. Based mostly upon Marsh’s testimony, which it discovered credible and persuasive, the Listening to Board concluded he had.
In reaching its conclusion, the Listening to Board pointed to the various elements that led to Marsh’s opinion that it was extremely possible that Respondent had written Helms’ and Corridor’s signatures, names, and titles on the E&T agreements. We additionally observe that Respondent’s counsel was capable of cross-examine Marsh, and that Respondent might have obtained his personal skilled to look at the E&T agreements, however selected not to take action.
Given the detailed evaluation in Marsh’s report and testimony, in addition to within the Listening to Board’s rationalization of why it accepted Marsh’s testimony and opinion, we discover no foundation to overturn the Listening to Board’s acceptance of her opinion, and subsequently no foundation to overturn its dishonesty discovering as to the E&T agreements.
In sum, we consider this matter, for the Listening to Boar, got here right down to a burden of proof difficulty. The Administrator carried his burden on the fees associated to the E&T agreements, however didn’t carry his burden on the fees associated to the constructing permits, which have been tainted by doubts concerning the chain of custody of Respondent’s laptop computer. The Listening to Board’s findings as as to if or not the Administrator met his burden of proof have been based mostly upon proof within the report and have been neither arbitrary nor unreasonable. We subsequently haven’t any foundation to overturn them.
The Listening to Board really helpful that Respondent be suspended for 4 months. On attraction, the Administrator argues that, if this Board agrees that Respondent fabricated not solely the Monmouth and Morton E&T agreements but in addition the Pekin and Trivoli constructing permits, it ought to advocate that Respondent be suspended for no less than six months. Nevertheless, if this Board have been to uphold all the Listening to Board’s findings of misconduct and no misconduct, the Administrator would agree that a four-month suspension is acceptable. Respondent, in flip, argues that the grievance towards him must be dismissed. Within the various, he contends that, even when this Board have been to seek out further misconduct, a suspension of not more than 4 months can be warranted.
In making our personal suggestion, we contemplate the character of the misconduct charged and proved, and any aggravating and mitigating circumstances proven by the proof, In re Gorecki, 208 Sick. second 350, 360-61, 802 N.E.second 1194, 1200 (2003), whereas preserving in thoughts that the aim of self-discipline is to not punish the lawyer however somewhat to guard the general public, keep the integrity of the authorized career, and shield the administration of justice from reproach. In re Timpone, 157 Ailing. second 178, 197, 623 N.E.second 300 (1993). We additionally think about the deterrent worth of lawyer self-discipline and “the necessity to impress upon others the numerous repercussions of errors comparable to these dedicated by” Respondent. In re Discipio, 163 Unwell.second 515, 528, 645 N.E.second 906 (1994) (citing In re Imming, 131 Ailing.second 239, 261, 545 N.E.second 715 (1989)). Lastly, we search to advocate a sanction that’s according to sanctions imposed in comparable instances, Timpone, 157 Ailing. second at 197, whereas additionally contemplating the distinctive circumstances of every case. In re Witt, 145 Ailing. second 380, 398, 583 N.E.second 526 (1991).
As help for its suggestion of a four-month suspension, the Listening to Board relied primarily upon two instances, In re Magar, 99 CH 79, petition to impose self-discipline on consent allowed, M.R. 16581 (April 21, 2000); and In re Jacobs, 2013PR00064, petition to impose self-discipline on consent allowed, M.R. 26759 (Sept. 12, 2014).
In Magar, the Courtroom imposed a five-month suspension on consent the place the respondent created two fraudulent leases as a way to qualify for a mortgage, signed one other individual’s identify to these paperwork with out the individual’s information or authority, and made false statements on a mortgage software. In Jacobs, the Courtroom imposed a 60-day suspension on consent the place the respondent fabricated a letter to hide her failure to offer correct discover to a few earlier than submitting a mortgage foreclosures motion towards them. In mitigation, her misconduct passed off over a interval of some weeks; she had practiced regulation for 29 years with no prior self-discipline; and she or he had accepted duty and expressed remorse for her actions. The Listening to Board reasoned that this matter deserves a suspension for a interval between the suspensions imposed in Magar and Jacobs.
We agree that Magar and Jacobs present steerage as to an applicable sanction on this matter, as does In re Loprieno, 2016PR00082 (Evaluate Bd., April 27, 2018), accepted and confirmed, M.R. 29397 (Sept. 20, 2018). In Loprieno, the respondent, newly sworn in as a lawyer, created a counterfeit mortgage subordination settlement, cast two financial institution officers’ names on the doc, pilfered a colleague’s notary stamp and falsely notarized the doc, and tendered it to a lender to make the lender consider it had a superior lien on a bit of property. Utilizing the fabricated doc, the respondent was capable of acquire a $25,000 mortgage. Six months later, the respondent undertook the identical steps to create a doc purporting to cancel the subordination settlement. He was suspended for 5 months.
The extent of Respondent’s misconduct, whereas critical, is much less egregious than the misconduct in Magar and Loprieno. Thus, because the Listening to Board reasoned, a suspension for a time period larger than that imposed in Jacobs however lower than that imposed in Magar and Loprieno can be applicable on this matter. We see no purpose to depart from the Listening to Board’s suggestion of a four-month suspension, and subsequently advocate the identical.
For the foregoing causes, we affirm all the Listening to Board’s findings relating to misconduct. We advocate that, for his misconduct, Respondent be suspended for 4 months.
Robert M. Henderson
I, Kenneth G. Jablonski, Clerk of the Lawyer Registration and Disciplinary Fee of the Supreme Courtroom of Illinois and keeper of the data, hereby certifies that the foregoing is a real copy of the Report and Suggestion of the Evaluation Board, authorised by every Panel member, entered within the above entitled reason for document filed in my workplace on Might 15, 2019.
Kenneth G. Jablonski, Clerk of the
1 Respondent additionally was accused of partaking in further dishonesty by fabricating e-mails relating to a zoning listening to, and interesting in neglect in all 5 issues. The Listening to Board discovered that he didn’t interact in neglect in any of the issues, nor dishonesty in reference to the zoning e-mails, and the Administrator has not challenged these findings of no misconduct. Thus, we’d like not additional tackle them.
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