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In Re Mcdonnell

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 18, 1980.

IN RE ROBERT J. MCDONNELL, ATTORNEY, PETITIONER.


Disciplinary proceeding.

MR. JUSTICE MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On March 26, 1969, this court allowed the motion of petitioner, Robert J. McDonnell, to strike his name from the roll of attorneys. This action followed his convictions in 1966 for conspiracy to transport stolen securities in interstate commerce and in 1967 for failure to file income tax returns for the years 1960 through 1964 inclusive. In 1972 petitioner filed, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 767 (73 Ill.2d R. 767), his first motion for reinstatement, which was denied. On June 26, 1978, petitioner filed the present petition for reinstatement. A panel for the Hearing Board of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission recommended that the petition for reinstatement be allowed. The Administrator filed exceptions, and the Review Board remanded the cause to the panel to adduce additional evidence on rehabilitation. The panel affirmed its recommendation that the petitioner be reinstated. A majority of the Review Board recommended that the petition for reinstatement be denied.

At the first hearing before the panel, held on March 15, 1979, petitioner testified that, during the period in which the offenses were committed, he was a criminal lawyer trying cases which attracted considerable public attention. Petitioner admitted that he was not mature at the time and had "a lot of free time." Consequently, he fell into "the death trap that many lawyers fall in" of going "out drinking" or "to the races" instead of returning to his office. He developed a serious drinking problem. He failed to keep accurate accounts and records of his business, which finally led to his failure to file income tax returns.

Although petitioner acknowledged his conviction for conspiracy, he stated that he had not been guilty of the offense. Rather, he stated he was guilty of "bad judgment and association." The conviction stemmed from petitioner's meeting with several clients who were involved with stolen money orders valued at $10,000.

Petitioner testified that, following his release from Federal custody in 1970, he was involved in establishing a medical center on the south side of Chicago. In 1971, the S.A. Healy Company, a firm founded by his uncle and operated by his family, employed him at a yearly salary of approximately $9,000. He stated that he was not proud of the fact that this position was a "sinecure." Petitioner received a number of interest-free loans from the S.A. Healy Company, amounting to $100,000. He explained that these loans were an advance on a $177,000 inheritance from a deceased uncle whose estate was pending in probate court. These loans were used by petitioner to invest in various projects, including pure-water development, a used-car lot, and an export company. From 1970 through 1974 petitioner had made monthly payments of $100 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to repay his tax liability. He explained that he had discontinued these payments on the advice of his attorney, pending resolution of an objection to tax liens which would be resolved "in the very near future."

The petitioner had been hospitalized for treatment of an overdose of drugs for four days in January of 1977. He explained that this was a period of temporary severe depression, brought on by drinking, in which he attempted suicide. He stated, "I would say I slipped, that is all." He commented, "I take a drink occasionally."

Petitioner stated that he has kept abreast of legal developments by his contacts with other attorneys and judges and by reading legal advance sheets regularly. He recognizes his past mistakes, feels he has now matured, and believes he has overcome his drinking problem. If reinstated, petitioner would accept a position with a firm which would not involve the collection of money or the accounting of money, areas which had caused him problems in the past. He also pledged to devote 25% of his time to the representation of indigents.

A written report from Dr. John R. Adams was admitted into evidence. Dr. Adams stated that the briefness of petitioner's January 1977 hospitalization was a sign of his strength. He also stated his belief that petitioner had overcome his drinking problem, as shown by his continued involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous. Dr. Adams attested to petitioner's competency to resume his former responsibilities.

Sam Adam, an attorney, testified that he had known him since 1962 and that he regularly discussed recent developments in law with him. In his opinion, the petitioner's reputation for honesty and integrity is impeccable. Adam also stated that he would ask the petitioner to become affiliated with his firm if he were to be reinstated.

James Doherty, public defender of Cook County, also testified as a character witness. He stated that he had been acquainted with petitioner since 1945 and had always considered him to have been a good lawyer. He would have no hesitancy in recommending that petitioner be hired by his office. Doherty stated that petitioner had never betrayed the trust of a client and never would. He testified that petitioner's reputation for honesty and integrity was good.

The panel, in recommending that the petition for reinstatement be granted, made the following comment in its report:

"[T]here remains a lingering doubt regarding his emotional stablility and his having overcome the drinking problem which occurred at the same time that his difficulty with the Federal government arose."

In light of the express reservation of the panel, the Review Board remanded the cause to adduce further evidence on the issue of rehabilitation.

A second hearing was scheduled before the panel on January 22, 1980. Dr. John R. Adams testified that plaintiff's statement that he took an occasional drink was not inconsistent with Dr. Adams' earlier report in which he stated his belief that petitioner's drinking problem was under control. It was also his opinion ...


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