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12/15/88 In Re Ivan H. Tepper

December 15, 1988


Before addressing respondent's next argument, however, we note that much of the delay in this case resulted from the extensive discovery sought by respondent. While we recognize respondent's right to seek discovery (Dis. Com. R. 6.1 (now Dis. Com. R. 251 (1988))), we do not believe that he may subsequently complain of the delay he has caused by his exercise of that right. Finally, we point out that, although respondent now complains of a nine-month hiatus in the proceedings, the record fails to disclose any similar objection made by respondent at the time. Under these circumstances, we must conclude that respondent's conduct was, in part, responsible for the delay.


533 N.E.2d 838, 126 Ill. 2d 109, 127 Ill. Dec. 756 1988.IL.1796

Disciplinary proceeding.

Rehearing Denied January 30, 1989


JUSTICE MILLER delivered the opinion of the court. MORAN, C.J., and STAMOS, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.


On March 6, 1985, the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission filed a one-count complaint against respondent, Ivan H. Tepper, charging him with professional misconduct in his handling of a client matter. A panel of the Hearing Board found against respondent on the charges of the complaint and recommended that he be suspended from the practice of law for six months. Respondent filed, with the Review Board, exceptions to the Hearing Board's report and recommendation. The Review Board concurred in the Hearing Board's report and recommendation, and respondent then filed exceptions with this court. See 107 Ill. 2d R. 753(e)(5).

Respondent was admitted to the practice of law on November 17, 1969, and at the time of this matter was engaged in a general law practice with an emphasis in litigation. Since 1977, one of respondent's clients was Peter Vole, Jr., whom respondent had represented in a number of matters and with whom respondent had become social friends. In January 1982, Vole referred his girlfriend, Janet Wiswald (formerly Janet Hoffelt), to respondent, and Wiswald retained respondent to represent her in a post-dissolution proceeding brought by Wiswald's former husband, Joseph Hoffelt. (Hoffelt v. Hoffelt (Lake Co. Cir. Ct.), No. 80 -- D -- 2179.) Respondent successfully represented Wiswald in this matter.

In the fall of 1982, Wiswald and Hoffelt decided that Wiswald would buy out Hoffelt's interest in the former marital home and assume the expenses associated with it. Wiswald again retained respondent, this time to represent her in negotiating an agreement with her former husband. The parties reached an agreement, and an order reflecting that agreement was entered on December 20, 1982. The order provided that Wiswald would pay Hoffelt $10,000 in 10 monthly installments of $1,000 each, in exchange for which Hoffelt would deed his interest in the former marital home to Wiswald. Respondent was to hold in escrow a quitclaim deed relinquishing Hoffelt's interest to Wiswald and record the deed upon Wiswald's payment of the $10,000. Hoffelt signed a quitclaim deed naming Wiswald as the sole grantee and delivered the deed to respondent as the escrowee.

During 1982 and the first half of 1983, Wiswald and Vole were living together at the former marital residence in Lake Villa, Illinois. Wiswald worked part-time for Vole in various businesses, earning approximately $50 a week. After the order of December 20, 1982, Vole began making mortgage payments on the home, as well as paying the utility bills and other expenses associated with the property. Because Wiswald did not have the $10,000 necessary to purchase her ex-husband's interest in the house, Vole provided Wiswald with $7,000 to make the first seven payments. Wiswald deposited the $7,000 in her checking account and then paid $6,000 of it to Hoffelt as the payments became due. The seventh scheduled payment, however, was missed by agreement of Wiswald and Hoffelt. Wiswald retained the $1,000 for her own use, although Vole was unaware of this fact.

During the same period in 1982 and 1983, Wiswald and Vole broke off and then reestablished their relationship several times, and, at one time, they were engaged to be married. During their relationship, they were friends of and frequently socialized with respondent and his wife. In February 1983, while Wiswald and Vole were engaged, Wiswald instructed respondent to add Vole's name to the quitclaim deed from Hoffelt that respondent held in escrow. Respondent agreed, added Vole's name to the deed, and initialed the change.

In August 1983, Wiswald and Vole were not getting along and Wiswald went to Arkansas with her mother and daughter. On August 18, while Wiswald was in Arkansas, Vole delivered to Hoffelt's attorney his business check for $3,000, which Vole believed would pay off the $10,000 owed to Hoffelt. On the evening of August 18, Wiswald received a telephone call from her sister informing her that Vole was holding an open house at the property in Lake Villa. Wiswald then called Hoffelt, who told her that his attorney had received a $3,000 check from Vole and that he did not know whether he should accept it. Wiswald asked Hoffelt not to do anything with the check until she returned, and Hoffelt agreed. Wiswald then telephoned respondent that same evening and told him that she and Vole were not getting along and that she believed Vole was "up to something." Wiswald instructed respondent not to do anything regarding the house until she returned from Arkansas.

The next day, August 19, Vole left with respondent's secretary a copy of his check for $3,000 and a receipt for the check from Hoffelt's attorney. Vole also told the secretary to have respondent record the deed held in escrow. Respondent called Vole and asked him whether all the money owed to Hoffelt had been paid. Vole stated that it had, not knowing that Wiswald had reserved the $1,000 for her own use. Respondent did not confirm Vole's statement with Wiswald, or Hoffelt, or Hoffelt's attorney. On August ...

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