SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
514 N.E.2d 174, 118 Ill. 2d 77, 112 Ill. Dec. 708 1987.IL.1391
JUSTICE MORAN delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MORAN
The Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission filed a nine-count complaint before the Commission alleging, inter alia, that the respondent, Sherwood Lawrence Levin, neglected three criminal appeals, made misrepresentations to his clients, commingled and converted a client's fund and failed to cooperate with the Commission's investigation of these charges. Respondent failed to answer or otherwise plead to the complaint, and the Hearing Board entered an order pursuant to Commission Rule 236 deeming the allegations of the complaint admitted. Thereafter, the Hearing Board allowed respondent's motion to vacate its default order and for leave to file his answer instanter. At the Conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Board allowed respondent's motion to order the parties to file written closing arguments. Respondent failed, however, to file his closing argument.
The Hearing Board concluded that the Administrator proved by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent was guilty of the misconduct alleged in the complaint and recommended that respondent be disbarred. Neither party filed exceptions with the Review Board, and the Hearing Board's report was filed with this court and submitted as an agreed matter pursuant to Rule 753(e)(1) (107 Ill. 2d R. 753(e)(1)). Thereafter, respondent filed a motion in this court for leave to file exceptions instanter and to remand this cause to the Review Board for further proceedings. We denied respondent's motion and ordered the parties to file briefs. (107 Ill. 2d R. 753(e)(1).) Respondent failed, however, to comply with the briefing schedule set by this court's order, and we directed him to show cause why the report and recommendation of the Hearing Board should not be approved. Respondent answered the rule to show cause and moved for leave to file his brief instanter. The court subsequently denied respondent's motion and instead ordered him to file his brief on or before December 19, 1986. Respondent complied with that order and the rule to show cause was discharged.
The only issue presented for review is whether respondent's misconduct warrants disbarment.
Respondent was licensed to practice law in Illinois in 1966. On January 16, 1981, the Hearing Board reprimanded respondent pursuant to Commission Rule 282 for neglecting a legal matter entrusted to him by his client and concealing the fact that he had not filed an action on the client's behalf. (In re Levin (January 16, 1981), Administrator No. 79 -- CH -- 57.) On November 1, 1984, a majority of the Review Board affirmed the Hearing Board's recommendation that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of six months for neglecting the affairs of two other clients by failing to pursue their claims and for failing to cooperate in the Commission's investigation of the charges. This court entered a rule to show cause why the report and recommendations of the Review Board should not be adopted. Respondent failed to answer the rule to show cause, and the court allowed the Administrator's motion to approve the Review Board's report and recommendation that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of six months. In re Levin (February 22, 1985), No. 61108.
The charges currently before this court stem from respondent's representation of three separate clients. He represented Jose Perez at his murder trial in June 1980. Respondent testified that Perez' sister, Maria Ortiz Herrera, retained him to represent Perez and that he and Ortiz agreed that his fee would be between $2,500 and $3,000, of which he was eventually paid approximately $1,000. Perez was convicted and sentenced to serve 25 years in the Department of Corrections. At the time of respondent's hearing, Perez was an inmate at the Stateville penitentiary. Consequently, the Administrator introduced Perez' evidence deposition at the hearing. Perez testified that, at the Conclusion of his sentencing hearing, he engaged respondent to prosecute his appeal, but that there was no Discussion regarding respondent's fee. The record further indicates that the following colloquy took place at the sentencing hearing:
"THE COURT: Who is going to handle [the appeal]?
: At this time, Judge, I believe I'm going to be handling the appeal, is that correct?
THE COURT: Okay, then I won't appoint anybody.
: We would be asking for a free transcript. I have an order ...