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12/15/88 In Re Nathan N. Powell

December 15, 1988

IN RE NATHAN N. POWELL, ATTORNEY, RESPONDENT.


Before the hearing panel, respondent contended that he was motivated by sympathy for Holzer and that he had no thought of influencing the Judge. Respondent testified that he had always considered Holzer to be a good Judge and a gentleman. Respondent further stated that Holzer's demeanor had affected him and that he felt sorry for the Judge and his family. Moreover, respondent claimed that, when deciding to help Holzer, he gave no thought to any consequence that refusing Holzer's request might have on the case then pending before the Judge.

SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

533 N.E.2d 831, 126 Ill. 2d 15, 127 Ill. Dec. 749 1988.IL.1797

Disciplinary proceeding.

Rehearing Denied January 30, 1989

APPELLATE Judges:

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

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MILLER

In June 1986, the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission filed a complaint charging the respondent, Nathan N. Powell, with professional misconduct in connection with a loan that he helped procure for Judge Reginald J. Holzer. A panel of the Hearing Board found against respondent on five of the six charges of misconduct and recommended that he be disbarred. The respondent filed exceptions to the Hearing Board's report and recommendation. The Review Board concurred with the Hearing Board, and respondent filed exceptions with this court pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(e)(5) (107 Ill. 2d R. 753(e)(5)).

Respondent was licensed to practice law in this State in 1934, and is now 77 years old. At the time of the loan in question, respondent had known Holzer casually for approximately 18 years. The two men belonged to the same lodge and would occasionally see one another at various functions. Respondent testified, however, that he and Holzer were not personal friends.

In 1978, respondent was retained by Harry Wohl to defend a suit that had been brought against Wohl for an accounting and damages. The lawsuit (Nelson v. Wohl (Cook Co. Cir. Ct.), No. 78 -- CH -- 8350) was assigned to Judge Holzer. On December 22, 1978, respondent entered his appearance for Wohl and also filed an answer and counterclaim. On March 2, 1979, the plaintiff, Nelson, moved for a disbursement of funds allegedly due from Wohl. The motion was set by Holzer for hearing on March 12, 1979.

On March 5, one week prior to the scheduled hearing, Holzer telephoned the respondent and asked him to come to Holzer's chambers. Upon respondent's arrival, Holzer appeared agitated and asked respondent if he was still representing a bank. Respondent replied that he was. Holzer then explained that he was overdrawn at his own bank and needed a $10,000 loan. When respondent asked the Judge whether he had collateral, Holzer replied that he did not. Respondent then told Holzer that without collateral there was nothing respondent could do. Holzer told respondent that he was in desperate need of money and that respondent had to help him obtain a loan. Again respondent replied that he did not think he could help with a loan unless the Judge had collateral. After further pressure from Holzer, respondent said he would see what he could do.

Respondent left Holzer's chambers and returned to his own office, where he considered Holzer's request. Respondent testified that when he left for home that evening he was still undecided on how to handle the situation. Later that evening, respondent concluded he did not have sufficient funds of his own to pledge as collateral for a loan to Holzer. Respondent then contacted his client, Harry Wohl, whose case was pending before Holzer, and arranged to meet with Wohl the next morning. At their meeting on the morning of March 6, 1979, respondent asked Wohl if Wohl could post a certificate of deposit as collateral for a $10,000 loan for Holzer at Lincoln National Bank. Wohl assented to this request, saying: "Nate, I'll do anything you ask me to do."

Respondent then contacted Robert Maram, a Lincoln National Bank loan officer, to arrange the loan for Judge Holzer. Respondent next telephoned Holzer and told him to see Maram about the loan. Respondent testified that he told Holzer that the loan had collateral but that he did not say who provided it. On March 9, 1979, the collateral having been posted, the loan for $10,000 to Holzer was completed. Four days later, on March 13, 1979, Holzer ruled in Wohl's favor and denied Nelson's motion for disbursement of funds. Respondent informed neither his opponents, nor Paul Flaherty, his co-counsel, of the transaction. The case was ultimately settled by agreement of the parties.

The Administrator filed a complaint against respondent, alleging that respondent had engaged in professional misconduct by arranging for his client to post collateral for a loan to Holzer, before whom respondent and his client had a pending case. The complaint charged that respondent's actions had violated Disciplinary Rule 7 -- 110(giving or lending a thing of value to a Judge); DR 1 -- 102(2) (circumventing a disciplinary rule through the actions of others); DR 1 -- 102(3) (engaging in illegal conduct involving moral turpitude); DR 1 -- 102(5) (engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of Justice); DR 1 -- 103(failing to report knowledge of a violation ...


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