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10/05/87 In Re Walwyn Marshall Trezise

October 5, 1987



515 N.E.2d 80, 118 Ill. 2d 346, 113 Ill. Dec. 271 1987.IL.1486

Disciplinary proceeding.


JUSTICE MORAN delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.


The Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission filed a complaint before the Commission charging the respondent, Walwyn Marshall Trezise, Jr., with professional misconduct tending to bring the courts and the legal profession into disrepute. The complaint alleged that the respondent executed a trustee's deed conveying certain property he held for the benefit of one of his clients while a citation order was in effect which prohibited his client from transferring that property. A panel of the Hearing Board found that the respondent did not intend to defraud anybody, to misrepresent, or to conceal anything from the court, but that he was "guilty of an almost total lack of care" in connection with the transaction and that his conduct was prejudicial to the administration of Justice and brought the courts and the legal profession into disrepute. The panel recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two years or until further order of this court, that the order of suspension be stayed in full, and the respondent be placed on disciplinary probation subject to the conditions that he report periodically to the Administrator and pay the costs of these proceedings. (107 Ill. 2d Rules 772(b)(1), (b)(10).) The Administrator filed exceptions to the Hearing Board's recommendation that the suspension be stayed and the respondent placed on probation.

The Review Board affirmed the Hearing Board's findings of fact, but concluded that the respondent was not eligible for disciplinary probation. A majority of the Review Board found that a two-year suspension was excessive and, instead, recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six months. Two members of the Review Board recommended a two-year suspension. The respondent filed exceptions to the report and recommendation of the Review Board. (107 Ill. 2d R. 753(e)(5).) Thereafter, we allowed the Administrator's petition for leave to file exceptions. 107 Ill. 2d R. 753(e)(6).

The issues presented for review are: (1) whether the Administrator engaged in prejudicial conduct by making misleading representations before the Hearing Board and the Review Board; (2) whether disciplinary probation pursuant to Rule 772 (107 Ill. 2d R. 772) is an appropriate sanction under the circumstances of this case; and (3) what measure of discipline, if any, should be imposed upon respondent.

The respondent is a sole practitioner who was licensed to practice law in Illinois in 1962. In a separate proceeding, on June 3, 1983, this court censured respondent for failing to disclose an addendum to a settlement agreement during divorce proceedings which took place in Livingston County in 1973. In re Trezise (1983), No. M.R. 3021.

The respondent has represented Dean Koehl since approximately 1969. In 1975, Koehl, who had been estranged from his wife since 1971, became involved with Jeanne Lawrence. Shortly thereafter, Lawrence moved into a house in Decatur which was then owned by the L & K Sales Corporation. At that time, Koehl was the president of L & K and the respondent was its secretary. On October 15, 1975, the respondent executed a land trust agreement which an associate had drafted. Under the terms of the trust agreement, the respondent was to take title to the Decatur property in trust for the benefit of Dean Koehl throughout his natural life and to distribute the remainder in fee simple to Jeanne Lawrence upon Koehl's death. The agreement also provided that Koehl had the power to revoke or amend the trust or otherwise direct the respondent as to the Disposition of the trust property. The trust agreement further provided that the respondent was to "deal with [the trust property] only when authorized to do so in writing" by Koehl or whomever else was then designated the beneficiary. The L & K Sales Corporation conveyed the property to the respondent as trustee on November 7, 1975. On March 12, 1976, respondent, as trustee, executed a certificate of beneficial interest which purported to transfer to Jeanne Lawrence a 100% beneficial interest in the land trust subject to Koehl's life estate.

Thereafter, respondent prepared financial statements for Koehl and for the L & K Corporation for 1979, 1981 and 1982, all of which listed the Decatur property as one of Koehl's personal assets. The respondent appended a letter to the 1979 financial statements stating that they were prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting practices and fairly and accurately represented Koehl's financial position. L & K Corporation obtained loans and a loan extension from the Anchor State Bank in 1981 and 1982.

Koehl executed the promissory notes as a co-maker, and signed the loan extension agreement as an endorser. On July 26, 1982, L & K Corporation filed a petition for bankruptcy. At that time all debts L & K owed to the Anchor State Bank became due pursuant to a loan guaranty agreement Koehl had executed in 1980. On April 4, 1983, the bank recovered a judgment against Koehl in the amount of $117,235.43 in the circuit court of McLean County.

Thereafter, the bank initiated supplementary proceedings to collect the judgment, and a citation to discover assets was served upon Koehl on June 3, 1983. The citation prohibited Koehl from transferring or disposing of any nonexempt property until further order of the court or until the proceedings were terminated. The respondent appeared and represented Koehl in the citation proceedings. Respondent provided the bank's counsel with a copy of the trust deed for the Decatur property in June 1983. After two changes of venue, Koehl first appeared and was examined on October 19, 1983. At that time, he was asked to produce certain records relating to the Decatur property; and, the citation was continued by agreement until March 7, 1984.

In the latter part of December 1983, Lawrence and a real estate broker telephoned respondent and informed him that Lawrence intended to sell the Decatur property. Lawrence verbally directed respondent to execute a trustee's deed. On January 6, 1984, prior to the termination of the citation proceedings, respondent executed a trustee's deed conveying the Decatur property to the purchasers in consideration of $51,000. Koehl directed the ...

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