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In Re Jordan

OPINION FILED MARCH 22, 1985.

IN RE THOMAS W. JORDAN, ATTORNEY, RESPONDENT.


Disciplinary proceeding.

JUSTICE RYAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied May 31, 1985.

The respondent, Thomas W. Jordan, was admitted to the bar of Illinois in 1980. On April 8, 1983, the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission filed a two-count complaint charging the respondent with making materially false statements and failing to disclose material facts in connection with his bar application. The Hearing Board recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three years. The Review Board concurred in the Hearing Board's findings that the respondent's conduct violated the disciplinary rules, but recommended that the respondent be disbarred. The respondent filed exceptions in this court pursuant to Rule 753(e)(5) (94 Ill.2d R. 753(e)(5)).

The respondent contends that the findings and conclusions of the hearing and review boards are not supported by clear and convincing evidence and that the Review Board's recommendation of disbarrment is excessive and not supported by the record as a matter of law.

In this State, a bar applicant is required by our rules to submit a verified application to the Committee on Character and Fitness. (87 Ill.2d R. 708(b).) It is the duty of the applicant to fully and accurately respond to all questions posed in the application. Failure to do so has been held to constitute fraud on this court warranting the imposition of severe disciplinary measures. (In re Ascher (1980), 81 Ill.2d 485, 499.) The initial burden is on the applicant to furnish the committee with evidence of his or her good moral character and general fitness to practice law. In re Martin-Trigona (1973), 55 Ill.2d 301, 305.

Count I of the Administrator's complaint charged the respondent with making materially false statements in answering his verified "Questionnaire and Statement of Applicant" (questionnaire) and failing to fully disclose certain other relevant facts. Count II charged the respondent with failing to advise the Committee on Character and Fitness about certain relevant events which arose after he filed his questionnaire.

The following questions and answers are relevant to count I of the Administrator's complaint.

Question 1(b) of the questionnaire asked the respondent to state every residence at which he had lived for the past 10 years. He was also to provide the exact address of each residence and the month and year he began and stopped living at each residence. When the respondent answered this question he failed to disclose that he had resided with his parents at 4600 South Lawler, Chicago, from 1956 to June 1971. The respondent's explanation for the omission was that he mistakenly thought that his parents had sold their house in April 1970. The respondent's address from February 1972 to June 1972 was 1331 North Dearborn, Chicago. He incorrectly listed the address as "1131" North Dearborn and incorrectly stated he resided at that address from June 1970 to June 1972.

There were three other addresses that the respondent did not list on his questionnaire: 441 West Barry, 1711 North Newland, and 4250 North Marine. These were all Chicago addresses which he had submitted to the Chicago police department as his residences when he was a police officer from 1970 to 1975. The respondent testified that he submitted the addresses simply to comply with the police department's residency requirement. Since he had not in fact resided at those addresses, he did not list them on the questionnaire.

Pursuant to a release signed by the respondent as part of his bar application, his Chicago police department personnel file was made available to the Committee on Character and Fitness in June 1980. The three Chicago addresses, which were omitted from the respondent's questionnaire, were contained in his personnel file.

In addition, although it was not alleged in the Administrator's complaint, the respondent failed to state that he had lived at 3200 Sheridan Road, Chicago, with G. Paul Utley. The respondent testified that he had stayed at Mr. Utley's house on and off for about 15 months, apparently beginning in late 1976, when his parents were having marital problems.

Question 7 asked whether the respondent had ever worked in a law office or otherwise been employed by a lawyer. The respondent answered "No." He had, however, worked on and off for several companies owned by his father from the time he was 16 years old. The respondent did not disclose that while he was employed by his father he had done work for several attorneys. His duties included conducting investigations, taking statements of witnesses, and serving subpoenas. One of the attorneys the respondent worked for was W. Jason Mitan. The respondent testified that at the time he filed his questionnaire he was aware that Mitan had been disbarred. (In re Mitan (1979), 75 Ill.2d 118.) He also failed to disclose that on several occasions he had been paid directly for his work by one or more of the attorneys. The respondent maintains that he was not employed by the attorneys. Instead, the attorneys hired his father's companies to do investigative work and process serving. The respondent contends he performed that work for the attorneys as an employee of his father's companies.

Question 10(a) asked the respondent to list all jobs he had after his 16th birthday. As part of his response, the respondent stated that he had worked for "Claim Prevention Div." from April 1975 to February 1978. Claim Prevention Service, Jordan Service, Hubbard La Salle Clark Marine, and Consolidated Engineers were all companies that were owned by the respondent's father during the 1970's. In the questionnaire the respondent described the nature of the business as "security" and described his position as "supervisor." However, the respondent did not disclose that he had worked for the other companies his father owned or, as noted above, that while so employed he did work for attorneys conducting investigations, taking statements of witnesses, and serving subpoenas.

The respondent also did not list a company called Talk Softly, Ltd., in response to question 10(a). In May 1974, the respondent helped a girl he was dating rent an apartment at 4250 North Marine Drive in Chicago. The respondent agreed to put the lease in his name because his friend was not able to lease the apartment herself since she was unemployed. In submitting the lease application the respondent indicated that he was employed by Talk Softly, Ltd., was a vice-president of the company, and received an annual salary of between $16,000 and $20,000. The respondent had in fact invested in the company and was an officer. However, he never received any salary or commission because the company went out of business about nine months after it was incorporated. In testimony before the Hearing Board the respondent indicated that he told the rental agent that Talk Softly had recently been started by himself and several other individuals and that it had not yet produced any income. He maintains that the agent was fully advised of the facts.

Question 10(c) asked the respondent whether he had ever been accused by any employer, superior, or associate of dishonesty in connection with his employment. The respondent answered "No." The respondent admits that he failed to disclose that he was suspended from the Chicago police department on March 22, 1973, for 10 days for failing to notify the department of a newly purchased car as required by a department rule, giving a false statement regarding the purchase of city and State vehicle licenses, and avoiding a possible penalty for a traffic infraction by falsely stating he was on official business. He maintains, however, that he was never accused of dishonesty by any employer. The respondent's March 22, 1973, suspension was contained in his personnel file from the Chicago police department.

Question 10(d) asked the respondent whether he had been discharged by any employer. It further stated, "If so, state the cause and the circumstances." The respondent answered that he had been discharged from the Chicago police department and ...


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