SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
PATRICK ALAN TUITE, Attorney, Respondent. -- In re
WILLIAM D. MADDUX, Attorney, Respondent. -- In
re WILLIAM JAMES HARTE, Attorney,
Respondent. -- In re JAMES ROBERT
MADLER, Attorney, Respondent.
Nos. 65609, 65629, 65666, 65673, 65674, 65681 cons.
528 N.E.2d 694, 124 Ill. 2d 29, 124 Ill. Dec. 6 1988.IL.961
JUSTICE STAMOS took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
These cases involve attorneys who were each charged with violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility by reason of having made a gift or a loan to a Judge. While we initially heard each of these cases separately, we have, on our own motion, consolidated them to consider in one opinion the common legal issues raised by all of these cases. The crucial common question is one of first impression in this court: What conduct constitutes giving or lending "a thing of value" to a Judge so that it falls within the proscription of our Rule 7 -- 110(a)? 107 Ill. 2d R. 7 -- 110(a).
The Corboy, Maddux, Harte, and Madler cases all involve the payment of $1,000 by each of these attorneys to Richard LeFevour, then a Judge of the circuit court of Cook County. The procedural facts in these four cases are so similar that for purposes of this opinion, they need not be separately stated. Each of the four attorneys had become involved with LeFevour in the matter under consideration in these cases through the effort of attorney Walter Ketchum (see In re Ketchum (1988), 124 Ill. 2d 50). Although the personal relationship of each of these four attorneys with LeFevour is different, the facts relevant to this opinion are as follows. In December 1981, Evelyn LeFevour, mother of Judge Richard LeFevour, was in the hospital. It was, apparently, necessary to settle the hospital bill before she left the hospital for Christmas, in order for her to re-enter the hospital after Christmas. Each of the four attorneys was solicited by Walter Ketchum to make out a check for $1,000, payable to Richard LeFevour, so that the hospital bill could be paid. Each of the four attorneys did as he was requested and each considered that the payment was either a gift or a loan to Evelyn LeFevour, and not a gift or a loan to Richard LeFevour. In some of the cases, it was not shown what happened to the check that had been made payable to Richard LeFevour. In one case, the record reflects that the checks were deposited in Richard LeFevour's personal checking account. A copy of a bank statement showing the activity in that account for December 19, 1981, through January 20, 1982, and copies of all checks drawn during the period were a part of the record in the Madler case. They reflect that Richard LeFevour did not draw upon that checking account to pay his mother's hospital bill. Also included in the record is a copy of a stipulation entered at the trial of Richard LeFevour in the Federal court, which states that LeFevour's brother, John LeFevour, testified that their mother died in early 1982, and that both her hospital and funeral expenses were covered by insurance.
At the time that each respondent attorney made out his check payable to Richard LeFevour, each knew that LeFevour was a Judge of the circuit court of Cook County, and that he was the presiding Judge of the first municipal district of that court, although at the hearing Corboy could not recall whether at the time of the issuance of his check LeFevour was the chief Judge of the traffic court or the presiding Judge of the first municipal district. None of the four attorneys had ever practiced before Judge LeFevour and each had only a very limited contact with the first municipal district of the circuit court of Cook County, through occasional cases that may have been filed in that division of the court. Some of the attorneys considered the payment as a gift or an act of philanthropy to Evelyn LeFevour, whereas others considered their payment as a loan to Evelyn LeFevour; however, no promissory notes were executed and no Discussion was had concerning the payment of interest. None of the money was ever repaid.
The Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission charged that the attorneys gave $1,000 to Richard LeFevour, the presiding Judge of the first municipal district of the circuit court of Cook County. The complaints charged that each attorney was thereby guilty of conduct tending to defeat the administration of Justice and to bring the legal profession into disrepute, and violative of the disciplinary rules of the Code of Professional Responsibility: Disciplinary Rule 7 -- 110(a) (107 Ill. 2d R. 7 -- 110(a) (giving or loaning a thing of value to a Judge)), Disciplinary Rule 1 -- 102(a)(5) (107 Ill. 2d R. 1 -- 102(a)(5) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of Justice)) and Canon 9 (107 Ill. 2d Canon 9) (avoiding even the appearance of impropriety)). The complaints filed by the Administrator prayed that each attorney should be sanctioned, as provided under our Rule 771 (87 Ill. 2d R. 771) for conduct tending to bring the court and legal profession into disrepute.
Although the procedures before the Hearing Board and the Review Board of the ARDC and the Conclusions of these bodies may have differed slightly in each of the cases, the proceedings relevant to this opinion may, generally, be stated as follows. A majority of the hearing panels found that each attorney had violated the Code of Professional Responsibility. The panels disagreed, however, on the type of discipline to be imposed. Some of the members of the panels found that the language of Disciplinary Rule 7 -- 110(a) of the Code of Professional Responsibility is a per se prohibition against the giving or lending anything of value to a Judge, and that, since the rule did constitute an absolute prohibition, any gift or loan which was in fact paid to the Judge constituted a violation of the rule regardless of the intent of the donor. Those holding this view thought that the attorneys should be censured. Other members of the hearing panels recommended that the attorneys only be reprimanded for a technical violation of the rule. Those who Dissented from the above Conclusions considered that the evidence did not show that the attorneys violated any provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility and found that Rule 7 -- 110(a) is not a per se rule and that whether an attorney had violated Rule 7 -- 110(a) depends partially upon the attorney's intent, motive and state of mind. Exceptions were filed by the Administrator and by the attorneys with the Review Board.
The Review Board initially filed a report in which a majority recommended no discipline; however, four members of the Review Board found that Rule 7 -- 110(a) had been violated and recommended censure. The Administrator sought to file these reports with this court. The attorneys, however, moved this court to bar the filings, asserting that Supreme Court Rule 753(e)(4) (107 Ill. 2d R. 753(e)(4)) prohibits the filing of such a report with this court unless the "review board concludes that disciplinary action is required."
In granting the motion of the attorneys, this court stated: "The tendered report and recommendation of the Review Board does not represent the concurrence of at least five members of the Board recommending some form of disciplinary action by this court under Rule 771." Accordingly, this court in each case remanded the matter to the Review Board for any additional action it deemed appropriate within the scope of its authority under Supreme Court Rule 753(e)(3). 107 Ill. 2d R. 753(e)(3).
Upon remand, the Review Board filed reports and recommendations with this court, in which six members of the Board found that the attorneys had given a thing of value to a Judge. The majority concluded that Rule 7 -- 110(a) is a per se rule and five of the six members recommended censure. The sixth member of the majority concluded that there was a technical violation of the rule and therefore recommended that the complaint be discharged. The three remaining members Dissented and ...