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01/19/88 In Re Elias William Rolley

January 19, 1988

IN RE ELIAS WILLIAM ROLLEY, JR., ATTORNEY, RESPONDENT.


SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

520 N.E.2d 302, 121 Ill. 2d 222, 117 Ill. Dec. 141 1988.IL.33

Disciplinary proceeding.

Rehearing Denied April 5, 1988

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM delivered the opinion of the court.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CUNNINGHAM

In this disciplinary action, both respondent, Elias William Rolley, Jr., and the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (Commission) have taken exceptions to the recommendations of the Hearing Board and the Review Board. The Hearing Board recommended a discipline of two years' suspension. Five members of the Review Board recommended a three-month suspension, one member of the Review Board recommended a six-month suspension, and two members of the Review Board recommended a two-year suspension.

Respondent was served with an eight-count complaint from the Administrator on November 13, 1985, and filed his answer to the complaint on January 15, 1986. Of the eight counts in the complaint, seven alleged misconduct by respondent in connection with his position as counsel for the trustees of the Hinthorn trust. The remaining count alleged wilful failure to file an Illinois income tax return for the year 1980.

Respondent was born in 1930 in Normal, Illinois. Except for going to college and law school at Northwestern University, respondent has lived in the Bloomington-Normal area all his life. Respondent was admitted to the practice of law in 1955, the year he received his law degree. Respondent married in 1965, and together he and his wife have four children.

Respondent worked in association with a law firm for nine years, and spent a part of this time working as a part-time assistant State's Attorney, part-time assistant Attorney General, part-time city attorney for Bloomington, and assistant public defender. Since the fall of 1965, respondent has been self-employed, and since 1971 has been a sole practitioner. Respondent's primary areas of practice have been real estate, probate, income tax, divorce and bankruptcy.

One of respondent's clients was Leslie J. Hinthorn, who died on December 22, 1977, leaving a will with two codicils prepared by respondent. When Hinthorn died, a trust existed that was established on February 4, 1977, for the benefit of Hinthorn's heirs. The trust was amended on December 15, 1977, to authorize two named trustees to pay legal fees and other costs of the administration of Hinthorn's estate. Respondent prepared the trust and the amendment. The trust contained between $350,000 and $400,000 on December 22, 1977.

In January 1978, respondent was retained by the named trustees to represent the trust. Respondent then established a trust checking account, signed the signature card for the account and had possession of the trust account checkbook.

On October 31, 1978, Hinthorn's will was admitted to probate and respondent was appointed legal representative for the estate. The probate estate contained approximately $25,000 and real estate valued at $31,000.

Counts I, II, V and VI are not at issue. Each of these counts was dismissed or was found to have lacked sufficient evidence to prove misconduct. Counts III, IV, VII and VIII will each be considered in turn. Respondent has admitted wrongdoing in response to counts III, IV and VIII; the ultimate question for this court is the nature and extent of the discipline to be imposed. Also to be answered is the effect for purposes of attorney disciplinary proceedings of a successfully completed order of supervision for wilful failure to file an Illinois income tax return.

In August 1981, respondent drew a check for $72,000 payable to himself from the Hinthorn trust checking account. Respondent deposited the $72,000 into his attorney-client trust fund and later withdrew it, applying the money towards the purchase of a house to be used as respondent's personal residence. Respondent then executed a mortgage in favor of the Hinthorn trust.

On March 15, 1983, the trustees resigned and Peoples Bank became successor trustee for the Hinthorn trust. That same month, the bank took a mortgage against respondent's house and loaned respondent funds to reimburse the trust $72,000 plus 11 3/4% interest. The Administrator ...


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