MR. JUSTICE HERSHEY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied November 16, 1953.
This is a disciplinary proceeding instituted by the Committee on Inquiry of the Illinois State Bar Association against respondent, Ogle E. Veach. It was commenced by the filing, on April 10, 1952, of a complaint in sixteen counts charging respondent with solicitation of personal injury business, and in count 2 that he asked the mother of an injured client to locate a person who would falsely testify on behalf of her son. The case was heard by the Committee on Grievances on July 20 and 21, 1952. On motion of respondent counts 12 to 16 were dismissed. On October 22, 1952, the Committee on Grievances filed its report and recommendations, which found each of the allegations from 1 through 11 to be true. Respondent filed objections thereto, and the matter was argued orally before the Board of Governors. The Board of Governors, as Commissioners, filed its report on February 10, 1953, adopting the findings of the Committee on Grievances except that objections were sustained to all of count 9 and to that part of count 2 charging respondent with having sought to induce the procuring of a false witness. No exception was filed by the Committee on Inquiry, so respondent now stands charged with only solicitation. The Committee on Grievances and the Commissioners recommend disbarrment. Respondent filed exceptions in this court, and the entire record is here for review.
At the time of the hearing respondent was 50 years of age, married and living with his wife in St. Louis, Missouri. The record shows he was graduated from the high school at Marion, Illinois, and then attended college at Carbondale, Illinois, for two years. He then enrolled in the Benton College of Law at St. Louis, Missouri, from which he graduated in 1928 and was admitted to practice in Missouri. He practiced law in St. Louis until 1939, at which time he moved to his farm in Illinois, and in 1940 was admitted to practice in Illinois. From 1940 until May, 1951, he maintained offices in East St. Louis, Illinois. Since then he has not maintained an office in Illinois.
At the hearing several witnesses were produced by the Committee on Inquiry, most of whom had employed the respondent to recover damages for them on account of personal injuries. The purpose was to prove the allegations set forth in the various counts of the complaint.
In support of count 1 of the complaint, the record discloses that one Frank Herbstreith was on October 12, 1946, struck by an automobile near Shiloh, Illinois, and was removed to the St. Elizabeth Hospital in Belleville. Four days later, before he had asked to see any lawyer, the respondent, who was unknown to the witness, came to see him at the hospital and asked if anyone had been to see him. When informed that an insurance representative had been to see him, he asked if he (the representative) had left any paper. When he learned that a card had been left on the table, he went over to the table, picked up the card, read it, and exclaimed, "that man isn't any good."
At that time Herbstreith was in poor physical condition, and was suffering from injuries to his leg, his shoulder blade and neck, and was not fully conscious. The respondent, however, did obtain his signature to an employment contract.
Some few days later the respondent returned to the hospital with a newspaper which disclosed that he already had commenced suit in behalf of the witness. Herbstreith thereupon expressed surprise and informed the respondent that he was not to represent him. After Herbstreith was released from the hospital on October 25, 1946, the respondent attempted to interview him, but was ordered off his place.
The respondent in defense of his action claims he was introduced to Herbstreith by one Hugo Bartheleme, who, from the hospital records, appears to have been a patient therein from October 14, 1946, until October 18, 1946. The record further discloses that the respondent advanced the costs for filing the suit. Bartheleme was not produced as a witness.
In reference to count 2, the record discloses that in the afternoon of April 22, 1949, Andrew Switala, son of Andrew Philip Switala and Barbara Switala, suffered a fracture of his left leg and other injuries as a result of an accident and entered the hospital at Belleville, Illinois. On the following morning, between 8 and 9 o'clock, a man came to the Switala home and obtained the signature to a contract employing the respondent as his attorney. Thereafter, the respondent made repeated visits to see the Switalas. Prior to this happening Switala had not known the respondent, and had not consulted with or asked to consult with any lawyer. While the evidence does not show that the respondent made the first contact with Andrew Switala, it does disclose that whoever the man was that did, he procured a signed contract for employment of respondent, and respondent apparently ratified his act of solicitation.
In reference to count 3, the record discloses that Frank Runyan, a sergeant in the United States Air Forces was injured in an automobile accident on August 5, 1950. He suffered four fractured ribs and a fractured collarbone. On August 7 or 8 the respondent came to the hospital and wanted to be his lawyer. Following this conversation, the sergeant signed a contract of employment with respondent. The testimony on the part of the sergeant discloses a case of direct solicitation on the part of the respondent of whom the sergeant had never had any previous knowledge. The respondent's justification for his action as set forth in his testimony is that he had been employed by the other two persons involved in the same accident, namely Todd and Thierrault, and came to see the sergeant because he was investigating the facts of the occurrence. He then says it was suggested that he also handle the sergeant's case. The record does not disclose the day when the suggestion was made.
In support of count 4 the record shows that one Wilson Cardwell became a patient in the Alton hospital in May, 1951, as a result of an accident. Two days afterwards respondent Veach, whom Cardwell had not previously known, came to the hospital and asked to be employed as his attorney. Cardwell had not sent for him, neither had he made any request for consultation with a lawyer, nor that a lawyer be sent to him. Cardwell told the respondent that he was not interested in employing any lawyer, but after he felt better he might come to see him. Later, the respondent did call at his home, but he was informed that he, Cardwell, did not want him as his lawyer. Respondent claims that someone in his office, whom he does not identify, and who did not testify in this proceeding, received a telephone call requesting him to call at the hospital and see Cardwell. He says that when he went to see Cardwell a second time at the hospital, he had been discharged, but had left instructions as to where he lived. This Cardwell denies, but believes he might have told the respondent as to where he lived on the first meeting at the hospital.
In support of count 5 the record shows that John Yurkiv, Jr., was injured in an accident and hospitalized. He had his friend introduce Veach, as he wanted a lawyer. After hearing his story, Veach said he was going to see the other people and that was the last Yurkiv saw of him until the case came up in court.
The other people injured in that accident were Fred Pettie, Lee Pierce, and Griffin Suggs, all of whom were in the other car. Pettie testified he first saw Ogle Veach at the hospital. Veach asked to represent him as his attorney and later showed him a contract he had signed. At no time did Pettie ask ...