SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
545 N.E.2d 725, 131 Ill. 2d 261, 137 Ill. Dec. 72 1989.IL.1507
CHIEF JUSTICE MORAN delivered the opinion of the court.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MORAN
The Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission filed a seven-count complaint alleging that the respondent, Alvin I. Weinstein, arranged seven $5,000 loans for then Judge Reginald Holzer in violation of Disciplinary Rule 7 -- 110(giving or lending a thing of value to a Judge) and DR 1 -- 102(5) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of Justice) of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility (1970) (Code). The Hearing Board found that the respondent violated DR 7 -- 110and recommended that he be censured. The Review Board found that the respondent violated DR 7 -- 110and DR 1 -- 102(5) and recommended that he be suspended from the practice of law for a period of six months. The respondent filed exceptions to the report and recommendation of the Review Board. 107 Ill. 2d R. 753(e)(5).
At issue is whether the respondent engaged in conduct violative of DR 7 -- 110and DR 1 -- 102(5) and, if so, whether the respondent should be sanctioned.
The facts are not in dispute. The respondent was admitted to the bar of this State in 1939. He is a sole practitioner and his practice is concentrated in the areas of corporate, probate and real estate law. The respondent first met Holzer in the late 1940s or early 1950s at a function at Temple Beth El in Chicago, Illinois, and they have since enjoyed a friendly, social relationship.
In early 1977, Holzer approached the respondent and asked him to arrange a loan. In February 1977, the respondent arranged a $5,000 loan for Holzer at the American National Bank. Although the respondent signed a note on the loan and was personally responsible for its repayment, Holzer fully repaid the principal and interest due on the loan.
The respondent arranged additional $5,000 loans for Holzer in May 1977, January 1978, April 1978, August 1978, and December 1978. Each loan was arranged in the same manner as the original loan. With the exception of the April 1978 loan, Holzer fully repaid the principal and interest due on each loan. With respect to the April 1978 loan, Holzer fully repaid the principal but failed to pay the interest. The respondent paid the $87.75 interest charge, then asked Holzer to reimburse him. Holzer fully reimbursed the respondent.
In May 1980, Holzer telephoned the respondent and in a hysterical tone of voice asked him to arrange another loan. The respondent informed Holzer that he was unable to make the necessary arrangements because he was on his way to the airport, but would ask a friend to do so. The respondent contacted Nathan Stein, his business partner, who arranged a $5,000 loan for Holzer at the Glencoe National Bank. Holzer fully repaid the principal and interest due on the loan.
During 1979 and 1980, while the final loan was still outstanding, the respondent represented the Damato family, who were plaintiffs in an action seeking specific performance of a real estate contract. As a personal friend of the Damato family, the respondent agreed to represent them pro bono. The case was assigned randomly to Holzer. The respondent informed opposing counsel that he was a friend of Holzer, that he believed the matter could be settled, and that if it could not be settled he would refer it to another attorney and would move for a change of venue. The respondent did not inform opposing counsel of the loan transactions with Holzer. Before Holzer made any rulings and before the respondent appeared before him on the case, the parties agreed to a settlement. Holzer then met with the respondent and opposing counsel to verify that the settlement was free and voluntary. With the exception of the pro bono case, the respondent had never appeared before Holzer.
Both the Hearing and Review Boards found that the respondent did not attempt to curry favor with Holzer or to influence his decision in the pro bono case. The Administrator agrees that the respondent did not act with an improper motive.
The first issue presented for review is whether the respondent gave or lent a thing of value to a Judge in violation of DR 7 -- 110. In In re Corboy (1988), 124 Ill. 2d 29, 41, this court held that DR 7 -- 110must be read in conjunction ...