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In Re Kuta

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 30, 1981.

IN RE FRANK JOHN KUTA, ATTORNEY, PETITIONER.


Disciplinary proceeding.

MR. JUSTICE RYAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The question in this disciplinary case is whether Frank John Kuta should be reinstated to the practice of law in this State. In November 1974 Kuta was convicted in the Federal court for extortion and making false statements in his Federal income tax return. The conviction was based on a payment of $1,500 to Kuta, who was then an alderman in Chicago. The payment was made in an effort to obtain a zoning change. In March 1975 Kuta was suspended from practice pursuant to our Rule 761 (73 Ill.2d R. 761). In June 1975 the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed Kuta's conviction. On March 5, 1976, after the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari, Kuta voluntarily withdrew his name from the roll of attorneys and was disbarred on consent.

From October 1, 1975, to February 11, 1977, despite the fact that he had been suspended and later disbarred, Kuta was employed as a law clerk in the office of his former partner. In the fall of 1976 he filed a petition for reinstatement to practice law. When the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission objected and alleged that Kuta's employment constituted practicing law, he withdrew his petition for reinstatement and made arrangements for employment elsewhere. The present petition for reinstatement was filed in January 1980.

The hearing panel of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission conducted a hearing on this petition for reinstatement and unanimously recommended that Kuta be reinstated as an attorney. The Administrator for the Commission filed exceptions to the report of the hearing panel. The Review Board, after reviewing the record of the hearing, unanimously recommended to this court that Kuta not be reinstated. Kuta filed exceptions to this report, and the case was orally argued before the court at the May 1981 term.

This court has recently adopted a code of professional responsibility governing the conduct of attorneys (79 Ill.2d R. 1-101 et seq.). One objective in adopting the code was, through compliance therewith, to achieve a high degree of integrity in the legal profession in this State, thereby enhancing the public's respect for law and lawyers. In the application of our disciplinary machinery established by our rules (73 Ill.2d Rules 751 through 771), including the procedure for reinstatement of attorneys, we must consider the impact that an attorney's conduct has, or will have, on the legal profession, the public and the administration of justice. (In re Zahn (1980), 82 Ill.2d 489, 493; In re Wonais (1979), 78 Ill.2d 121, 124; In re Thomas (1979), 76 Ill.2d 185, 189; In re LaPinska (1978), 72 Ill.2d 461, 473.) It is the petitioner's burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he should be reinstated to the practice of law. See generally In re Groshong (1980), 83 Ill.2d 27; In re Wigoda (1979), 77 Ill.2d 154.

Our Rule 767 (73 Ill.2d R. 767) governs reinstatement of attorneys who have been disbarred, disbarred on consent, or suspended until further order of the court. The last part of this rule sets out the areas of concern in passing on a petition for reinstatement as follows:

"The petition shall be referred to a hearing panel. The panel shall consider the following factors, and such other factors as the panel deems appropriate, in determining the petitioner's rehabilitation, present good character and current knowledge of the law:

(a) the nature of the misconduct for which the petitioner was disciplined;

(b) the maturity and experience of the petitioner at the time discipline was imposed;

(c) whether the petitioner recognizes the nature and seriousness of the misconduct;

(d) when applicable, whether petitioner has made restitution;

(e) the petitioner's conduct since discipline was imposed; and

(f) the petitioner's candor and forthrightness in presenting evidence in support of the petition.

The hearing panel shall make a report of its findings and recommendations. A copy of the report shall be served upon the ...


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