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In Re Mason

OPINION FILED MAY 20, 1965.

IN RE LOUIS L. MASON, ATTORNEY, RESPONDENT.


DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING.

MR. JUSTICE SOLFISBURG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied September 27, 1965.

The Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association, acting as commissioners of this court under Rule 59, filed a report recommending that the respondent, Louis L. Mason, be disbarred and his name stricken from the rolls of attorneys of this court. Respondent filed exceptions to the report and the cause is now before us.

Counts I, II and III of the complaint involve respondent's conduct in filing a civil action against Judge Rodney A. Scott and thirteen other defendants seeking damages in the total amount of $4,300,000. Count V contains charges against respondent specifying various disrespectful acts of respondent in the course of trying cases from January, 1956 to July, 1962. Count IV was dismissed.

After a hearing the hearing division panel found that the evidence supported the charges contained in counts I, II, III and V, and recommended disbarrment. On review the commissioners sustained objections as to the findings on count V, but approved the report and recommendations of the hearing division panel as to counts I, II and III.

At the hearing five witnesses testified in support of the charges, and respondent alone testified in his own defense.

It appears from the record that respondent conducted arguments for the week prior to Friday, February 3, 1961, before Judge Scott in a criminal case entitled People v. Sharp. That Friday evening respondent returned to his home in Decatur where he had a dispute with his mother-in-law, Mrs. Harpstrite. That evening, upon her complaint, a warrant was issued for the arrest of the respondent. The following morning, while in custody on that warrant, respondent was served with notice of hearing on a mental illness petition verified by Mrs. Harpstrite. Dr. V.T. Turley was appointed an examining physician and filed his written report showing respondent to be in need of mental treatment. Upon examination of the petition and physician's report, Judge Scott, sitting in interchange at the request of acting County Judge William C. Calvin, on Saturday, February 4, 1961, ordered that respondent be restrained for the protection of himself and others, pending a hearing on the petition the following Monday. This was the last act of Judge Scott relating to respondent.

After Monday, February 6, 1961, the petition was continued from time to time until on February 9, when the original order of Judge Scott was modified by joint motion of the State's Attorney and attorney for respondent. The modification permitted respondent to be removed to a veterans' administration hospital for treatment, and thereafter the cause was dismissed.

Approximately two years later respondent filed a civil suit in Macon County against fourteen defendants. The first count was directed against Judge Scott and in its material portions precisely as it appears in the record alleged as follows:

"3. That the said R.A. Scott, was acting as presiding judge in the Circuit Court of Macon County, Illinois, on preliminary motions in a criminal case wherein People were plaintiff and one Frank Sharp was defendant, following the granting of a change of venue from M.E. Morthland, a circuit judge for the 6th Judicial Circuit, which file, meaning the Sharp case is incorporated herein by reference as though fully set out.

"4. That on or about February 2, 1961, the said defendant purported to entered and spread upon the records of this Court an order setting a hearing on Saturday as contrary to law and to the mandate of the Board of Supervisors of this county, which order said defendant knew or should have known to be illegal and of no force and effect.

"5. That on or about February 2, 1961, the said defendant illegally caused the then acting County Clerk, and Clerk of the County Court in and for Macon County, Illinois, one Darrell Foster, who was such clerk pro tempore by virtue of appointment of said Board of Supervisors to fraudulently open the County Court and appoint this defendant as acting judge and he signed what appeared to be legal papers having for their purpose XXX an inquiry as to the alleged mental illness of this plaintiff, and ordered that be no bond which took aways and denied to this plaintiff his freedom and denied him due process of law, and took away his civil liberties, upon the averments of one Mary Harpstrite and Bert Hirst, who were not interviewed or sworn by this defendant or said clerk as required by law, all of which kept this plaintiff away from his family and children and prior profitable profession and denies this plaintiff an opportunity to be a dead-bed of this plaintiff's wife, Mary Ann Mason, who then was in terminal illness from cancer at a local hospital.

"WHEREFORE, this plaintiff prays judgment against said defendant in the sum of not less than $250,000.00 and costs and demands ...


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