MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PETITION FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION
Respondent is an attorney admitted to the bar of this court.
In a disciplinary proceeding brought by The Chicago Bar
Association, he was suspended from the practice of law for a
period of two years having ". . . exhibited a continuous
course of conduct . . . by instituting groundless lawsuits
against the members of the bar, the bench, and laymen . . ."
who crossed him, and thereby bringing the legal profession and
the judiciary into disrepute. In re Sarelas, 50 Ill.2d 87,
98-99, 277 N.E.2d 313, 318-319 (1971).
There is no need to review here the nature of and the
allegations contained in respondent's lawsuits even though a
recitation of them furnishes an exegesis of the basis of the
charge. The opinion of the Illinois Supreme Court clearly and
succinctly summarizes at least fifteen suits filed by the
respondent within a decade, all of which contained abusive and
vituperative language and all of which were dismissed by the
courts in which they were filed.
Respondent has broadly challenged almost every aspect of
this disciplinary proceeding. Consequently, the opinion of
this court will be of equally broad scope even though
respondent's specific contentions may not be mentioned.
The power of a court to suspend an attorney from practice
before that court is too well established to conceivably be
doubted. The considerations involved when this action is taken
were well summarized by Chief Justice Marshall one and
one-half centuries ago:
"On one hand, the profession of an attorney is
of great importance to an individual, and the
prosperity of his whole life may depend on its
The right to exercise it ought not to be lightly
or capriciously taken from him. On the other, it
is extremely desirable that the respectability of
the bar should be maintained, and that its
harmony with the bench should be preserved. For
these objects, some controlling power, some
discretion, ought to reside in the court. This
discretion ought to be exercised with great
moderation and judgment; but it must be
exercised. . . ." Ex parte Burr, 22 U.S. (9
Wheat.) 529, 529-530, 6 L.Ed. 152 (1824).
The purposes for which the power to suspend is exercised
have long been recognized to be of such paramount importance
that any form of misconduct which might impair the trust and
confidence of the public in the legal profession and in the
integrity of the courts may be the occasion for disciplinary
action. The Supreme Court long ago clearly and simply
enunciated this principle:
"We do not doubt the power of the court to
punish attorneys as officers of the same, for
misbehavior in the practice of the profession.
This power has been recognized and enforced ever
since the organization of the courts, and the
admission of attorneys to practice therein. If
guilty of fraud against their clients, or of
stirring up litigation by corrupt devices, or
using the forms of law to further the ends of
injustice; in fine, for the commission of any
other act of official or personal dishonesty or
oppression, they become subject to the summary
jurisdiction of the court. Indeed, in every
instance where an attorney is charged by
affidavit with fraud or malpractice in his
profession, contrary to the principles of justice
and common honesty, the court, on motion, will
order him to appear and answer, and deal with him
according as the facts may appear in the case."
Ex parte Bradley, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 364, 374, 19
L.Ed. 214 (1868).
A federal court has the duty to exercise its "controlling
power" to suspend an attorney in order to maintain the
respectability of and confidence in the bar when an attorney
has been previously suspended by a state court. The judgment
of the state court automatically casts grave doubt upon the
fitness of the attorney to continue to be a member of the
profession because it carries an inherent inference of the
absence of the personal and professional qualities which an
attorney must at all times possess. Selling v. Radford,
243 U.S. 46, 37 S.Ct. 377, 61 L.Ed. 585 (1917).
Only if an examination of the record upon which the state
court judgment is based renders it suspect will a federal
court not recognize and follow it. Three conditions have been
held to negate the conclusive effect of a state court judgment
"1. That the state procedure, from want of notice
or opportunity to be heard, was wanting in due
process; 2, that there was such an infirmity of
proof as to facts found to have established the
want of fair private and professional character
as to give rise to a clear conviction on our part
that we could not, consistently with our duty,
accept as final the conclusion on that subject;
or 3, that some other grave reason existed which
should convince us that to allow the natural
consequences of the judgment to have their effect
would conflict with the duty which rests upon us
not to disbar except upon the conviction that,
under the principles of right and justice, we
were constrained to do so. Id., at 51, 37 S.Ct.
More recent decisions indicate that the standards of
Selling ". . . authoritatively expounded . . . the
responsibility that remains in the federal judiciary. . . ."
Theard v. United States, 354 U.S. 278, 282, 77 S.Ct. 1274,
1277, 1 L.Ed.2d 1342 (1957). The great respect and deference
which federal courts continue to give to decisions of the state
courts regulating the conduct of attorneys admitted to practice
before them is best illustrated by the most recent Supreme
Court review of a federal disciplinary proceeding, In re
Ruffalo, 390 U.S. 544, 88 S.Ct. 1222, 20 L.Ed.2d 117 (1968).
Rather than determining whether the conduct of the attorney
justified his suspension from the Ohio bar as the concurring
opinion would have done, id. at 552, 88 S.Ct. 1222 (White and
Marshall, JJ. concurring), the majority of Court carefully
premised its decision not to give the Ohio judgment conclusive
effect upon the reason that the attorney was not given timely
notice of the grounds for which he was ultimately suspended in
accordance with the first requirement of Selling. In sum,
whether or not an attorney's acts indicate a lack of the
upright professional and private character necessary to
demonstrate or to maintain his good standing remains a matter
of judgment for the states to determine for themselves within,
of course, the broad confines of due process protection of
fundamental freedoms. Law Students Civil Rights Research
Counsel, Inc. v. Wadmond, 401 U.S. 154, 91 S.Ct. 720, 27
L.Ed.2d 749 (1971) (New York bar admission screening procedures
valid upon their face); In re Stolar, 401 U.S. 23, 91 S.Ct.
713, 27 L.Ed.2d 657 (1971) (political association); Baird v.
State Bar of Arizona, 401 U.S. 1, 91 S.Ct. 702, 27 L.Ed.2d 639
(1971); id. ...