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United States District Court, Central District of Illinois

November 2, 1992


Before Mihm, Chief Judge, Mills and McDADE, District Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam.


A hearing was held before a three-judge panel of this Court on June 26, 1992, for a Show Cause Hearing against Attorney James G. Walker pursuant to Rule 1.3(A) of the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. CDIL-LR 1.3(A). For the reasons stated in this Order, Mr. Walker is hereby suspended from the practice of law as a member of the bar of this Court for a minimum of one year.


This disciplinary proceeding was initiated under Local Rule 1.3(A) by the Court in the person of then Chief Judge Harold Baker based on the conduct of Mr. Walker as counsel for the Plaintiff in Castillo v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co., Case No. 86 cv 2326, which was before Judge Baker.*fn1 Local Rule 1.3(A)*fn2 subjects a member of the bar of this Court to possible "suspension, disbarment, or other appropriate disciplinary action" if found guilty of "conduct unbecoming" a member of this bar. CDIL-LR 1.3(A). Pursuant to Local Rule 1.3(B), Attorney Charles L. Palmer was appointed to prosecute the Court's interests in this proceeding.*fn3 On December 5, 1991, Attorney Palmer filed a Complaint alleging violations of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility and conduct unbecoming a member of the bar of the Central District of Illinois by Attorney Walker. On January 13, 1992, Attorney Walker filed with the Court a motion for a hearing and to strike or for a more definite statement of subparagraphs 4(b), 4(c), and 4(e) of the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(e) and (f). Both motions were subsequently allowed. On February 6, 1992, an Amended Complaint was filed by Attorney Charles Palmer. Mr. Walker filed his response on June 26, 1992.

On June 26, 1992, a hearing was held before United States District Judges Michael M. Mihm, Richard Mills, and Joe Billy McDade. Appearing before the Court were Attorney Charles L. Palmer on behalf of the Court and Attorney James Wilder and Respondent James Walker on behalf of Mr. Walker. At the hearing, the parties mutually agreed that the proceedings would not be closed*fn4 and would be inclusive of evidence and argument regarding whether Respondent Walker had violated the local rules and the proper discipline to be imposed, if any.*fn5


This matter stems from an antitrust action between Plaintiff Dr. Guillermo Castillo and Defendants St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company and Burnham City Hospital. In that action, Dr. Castillo refused to increase his medical malpractice coverage to the limits required by the hospital, and this failure to comply resulted in the suspension of his medical staff privileges at the hospital. Dr. Castillo, represented by Attorney Walker (and his associate, Dean Engelbrecht), responded by filing suit alleging violations of the Sherman and Clayton Acts, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, and the Illinois Antitrust Act.

Mr. Walker's conduct as attorney for Dr. Castillo is memorialized in the October 31, 1989, deposition of Dr. Castillo and is thoroughly described and discussed in the Opinion of the Court of Appeals in Castillo and James Walker and Dean Engelbrecht v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company, 938 F.2d 776 (7th Cir. 1991). In Castillo, the Seventh Circuit reviewed and approved the civil contempt, discovery, and statutory sanctions imposed by Judge Baker upon Mr. Walker for the conduct that resulted in the initiation of these disciplinary proceedings. The essential facts as summarized in that Opinion are as follows:

    In June 1989 each of the defendants, after
  considerable scheduling difficulties, undertook
  to depose Dr. Castillo, but did not get very far
  with it even though it took all day and 281 pages
  of transcript. The doctor was at this session
  represented by attorney Dean Engelbrecht, an
  associate of Walker. The session began by counsel
  objecting, without prior notice to defendants, to
  producing certain documents previously requested
  on the basis that the documents were irrelevant,
  duplicative, or a violation of physician-patient
  privilege. The doctor's counsel also made it
  plain that the requested documents would not be
  provided because he argued the hospital had
  itself previously refused to provide the doctor
  with the same types of documents. Counsel also
  stated that this was the last and only time the
  doctor would be made available for a deposition.
  In spite of this rocky beginning and without the
  previously requested documents, defendants'
  counsel proceeded.

    After that, from time to time similar
  objections to questions followed. Sometimes there
  was a claim the question called for the doctor to
  speculate or give a legal opinion. If it was
  deemed irrelevant the doctor was also instructed
  not to answer in spite of Rule 30(c) requiring
  that evidence objected to shall be taken subject
  to objections. A number of questions for one
  reason or another did not get answered. When
  counsel for defendants tried to pursue a question
  which the doctor or his lawyer had tried to fence
  away the doctor's counsel charged harassment.
  Counsel, among other things, protected the doctor
  from answering questions about claimed damages,
  the meaning of letters the doctor had signed, and
  other questions related to the allegations of the
  complaint. The objections were on the basis that
  the doctor was not a lawyer and the letters and
  complaint, although signed by the doctor, had
  been composed by his present counsel. The
  questions called for legal conclusions or
  violated the privilege, it was claimed. Then
  followed some discussion about whether the
  deposition would have to be on the doctor's
  counsel. The doctor, however, needed little
  protection by his counsel as he was very adept at
  evading the questions, giving unresponsive
  answers and stonewalling.

    Judge Baker fully reviewed the deposition
  objections after defendants filed motions

  to compel discovery and to require answers from
  the doctor. He found no merit in the particular
  objections whether for relevance or privilege or
  otherwise. Even if some particular questions may
  have had some basis for an objection, that would
  not cure the overwhelming and continuing abuse of
  the discovery process by the plaintiff and his
  counsel throughout much of the deposition.

    After reading the deposition, this court fully
  agrees with Judge Baker. It is plain, as Judge
  Baker said, that the doctor's counsel was engaged
  in a "deliberate frustration of defendants'
  discovery attempts." As a result of that conduct
  Judge Baker assessed fees and expenses of
  $6,317.66 divided equally between the doctor and
  his counsel. . . .

    As some of the deposition questions therefore
  had not been answered, Judge Baker directed that
  they forthwith be answered without interference
  from the doctor's counsel. A further effort was
  made to depose the doctor. This time it was
  attorney James Walker who appeared with the
  doctor, but this lawyer substitution did not
  improve the situation. Attorney Engelbrecht was
  also present. As Judge Baker later found and as
  is evident to us from the deposition, the
  doctor's counsel willfully and contumaciously
  disobeyed the court's order by interfering with
  the questions posed by defendants' counsel, and
  by directing the doctor not to respond to certain
  questions already approved by the court. The only
  issue of any possible consequence was the
  challenge in the questions allegedly on the basis
  of attorney-client privilege which, if answered,
  might waive the privilege. Judge Baker found,
  however, that few if any of the objections on the
  basis of privilege had any merit. We fully agree
  with that assessment. These repetitious
  obstructive tactics clearly deserved sanctions.

    One remarkable incident occurring at this
  second deposition deserves telling. The
  deposition this time was being taken in attorney
  Walker's offices in Bloomington, Illinois. At
  another impasse, counsel for the hospital
  suggested that the differences between counsel be
  resolved by an immediate telephone conference
  with Judge Baker, a procedure Judge Baker had
  recommended. Attorney Walker did not immediately
  respond to the suggestion and hospital counsel
  therefore indicated he would go ahead and place
  the call. Then attorney Walker did respond:

    MR. WALKER: I would caution you not to use any
    telephones in this office unless you are
    invited to do so, counsel.

    MR. STANKO: You're telling me I can't use your

    MR. WALKER: You can write your threatening
    letters to me. But, you step outside this room
    and touch the telephone, and I'll take care of
    that in the way one does who has possessory

    When these deposition problems later came
  before Judge Baker he was not sure whether
  attorney Walker had actually threatened and
  intended physical violence or not. Attorney
  Stanko, the hospital counsel, advised the court
  that he had felt no fear of physical violence. Be
  that as it may, that exchange remains an example
  of professional incivility, a situation of
  general concern in this circuit and elsewhere.
  (Footnote omitted.)

    Judge Baker found that attorney Walker's
  arguments and statements were capricious and
  aimed at stymieing the defense efforts to find
  out through discovery what the doctor's case was
  about. The court's order which was intended to
  avoid a repeat of the prior deposition problem
  had been ignored. The proceedings had been
  unreasonably and vexatiously prolonged in
  violation of 28 U.S.C. § 1927. Attorney Walker was
  also subject to sanctions under Rule 16 and Rule
  37(b). The doctor's case was thereupon dismissed
  with prejudice and attorney Walker was found to be
  in civil contempt. Dismissal of a doctor's case for
  conduct similar to this is not unknown to us.
  Godlove v. Bamberger, 903 F.2d 1145 (7th Cir.
  1990), cert. denied, 499 U.S. 913, 111 S.Ct.
  1123, 113 L.Ed.2d 230 (1991). The contempt, it was
  provided, could be purged by paying the expenses
  and fees of the defense. In addition, Judge Baker,
  after a hearing on a rule to show cause,

  concluded that attorney Walker's conduct was so
  unprofessional that it required referral to the
  other two judges in the district to determine the
  appropriate discipline, if any, including
  reprimand, censure, suspension, disbarment, or
  whatever might be found to be just.
  Castillo, 938 F.2d at 778-80.


I.  The Court Has Authority To Censure, Suspend, Or Disbar An
    Attorney Whose Unprofessional Behavior Casts Doubt Upon
    His Continued Fitness to Practice Law.

This Court has inherent power and responsibility to supervise the conduct of attorneys who are admitted to practice before it. The reasons for this power were aptly stated in In re Peter S. Sarelas, an Attorney, 360 F. Supp. 794, 795-796 (N.D.Ill. 1973), aff'd, 497 F.2d 926 (1974):

    The power of a court to suspend an attorney
  from practice before that court is too well
  established to conceivably be doubted. The
  considerations involved when this action is taken
  were well summarized by Chief Justice Marshall
  one and one-half centuries ago:

      "On one hand, the profession of an attorney
    is of great importance to an individual, and
    the prosperity of his whole life may depend on
    its exercise. The right to exercise it ought
    not to be lightly or capriciously taken from
    him. On the other, it is extremely desirable
    that the respectability of the bar should be
    maintained, and that its harmony with the bench
    should be preserved. For these objects, some
    controlling power, some discretion, ought to
    reside in the court. This discretion ought to
    be exercised with great moderation and
    judgment; but it must be exercised. . . ."
    Ex parte Burr, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 529, 529-530, 6
    L.Ed. 152 (1824).

    The purposes for which the power to suspend is
  exercised have long been recognized to be of such
  paramount importance that any form of misconduct
  which might impair the trust and confidence of
  the public in the legal profession and in the
  integrity of the courts may be the occasion for
  disciplinary action. The Supreme Court long ago
  clearly and simply enunciated this principle:

      "We do not doubt the power of the court to
    punish attorneys as officers of the same, for
    misbehavior in the practice of the profession.
    This power has been recognized and enforced
    ever since the organization of the courts, and
    the admission of attorneys to practice therein.
    If guilty of fraud against their clients, or of
    stirring up litigation by corrupt devices, or
    using the forms of law to further the ends of
    injustice; in fine, for the commission of any
    other act of official or personal dishonesty or
    oppression, they become subject to the summary
    jurisdiction of the court. Indeed, in every
    instance where an attorney is charged by
    affidavit with fraud or malpractice in his
    profession, contrary to the principles of
    justice and common honesty, the court, on
    motion, will order him to appear and answer,
    and deal with him according as the facts may
    appear in the case." Ex parte Bradley, 74 U.S. (7
    Wall.) 364, 374, 19 L.Ed. 214 (1868). Id.

The local rules governing admission require all attorneys to take an oath or affirmation ". . . faithfully to discharge their duties as attorneys and counselors, and to demean themselves uprightly and according to law and the recognized standards of ethics of the profession. . . ." CDIL-LR 1.2(B). Local Rule 1.3 provides for the suspension, disbarment or other discipline of a member of the bar who is guilty of conduct unbecoming a member of the bar of this Court, and for supplemental sanctions pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 37 and 16 and the initiation of civil or criminal contempt proceedings when appropriate. CDIL-LR 1.3(A) and (C). In this case, civil contempt proceedings were initiated, and sanctions were imposed against Mr. Walker in the underlying lawsuit. Mr. Walker argues that these sanctions constituted sufficient punishment for his behavior. However, the fact that Mr. Walker was previously sanctioned does not dispose of the issue presently before the Court.

  Unlike civil contempt and discovery sanctions, the purpose
of this disciplinary proceeding is not to punish Mr. Walker
for violating the discovery rules, but rather to determine
whether the egregious and unprofessional nature of his conduct
implicates his fitness to continue to function as an officer
of this Court. In re Echeles, 430 F.2d 347 (7th Cir. 1970). The
Court of Appeals in Echeles stated:

     . . disbarment and suspension proceedings are
  neither civil nor criminal in nature but are
  special proceedings, sui generis, and result from
  the inherent power of courts over their officers.
  Such proceedings are not lawsuits between parties
  litigant but rather are in the nature of an
  inquest or inquiry as to the conduct of the
  respondent. They are not for the purpose of
  punishment, but rather seek to determine the
  fitness of an officer of the court to continue in
  that capacity and to protect the courts and the
  public from the official ministration of persons
  unfit to practice. Ex parte Wall, 107 U.S. 265, 2
  S.Ct. 569, 27 L.Ed. 552 (1882). Thus the real
  question at issue in a disbarment proceeding is the
  public interest and an attorney's right to continue
  to practice a profession imbued with public trust.
  In re Fisher, 179 F.2d 361 (7th Cir. 1950),
  cert. denied sub nom. Kerner, et al. v. Fisher,
  340 U.S. 825, 71 S.Ct. 59, 95 L.Ed. 606 (1950).
  Echeles, 430 F.2d at 349-50.

Justifiable doubts implicating the public trust may be raised about the fitness of an attorney, supposedly devoted to upholding the law, who himself deliberately and unjustifiably disregards a clear and direct order of the Court with no discernable motivation other than to stymie and frustrate efforts to depose his client.

II. Mr. Walker's Conduct In The Castillo Case And At The June
    26, 1992 Hearing Demonstrates That He Is Presently Unfit
    To Continue To Practice Before This Court.

The Court must decide whether or not Mr. Walker's conduct indicates a lack of upright professional character necessary to demonstrate or to maintain his good standing as a member of the bar of this Court. As previously noted, the deposition transcripts are clear, and the facts are not in dispute. Mr. Walker and Attorney Palmer just ask that different inferences be drawn from those facts. However, the explanation for the facts proposed by Mr. Walker at the June 26, 1992, hearing was not credible. Mr. Walker's conduct at the deposition and his attempt to justify that behavior at the June 26, 1992, hearing demonstrate that Mr. Walker is not fit to continue to practice as a member of the bar of this Court.

As Judge Mills said very succinctly at one point during these proceedings, if Mr. Walker had come into the June 26, 1992, evidentiary hearing and told the Court that he had acted wrongly in conducting the deposition, that he knew that his conduct was wrong, that he apologized for the conduct and assured the Court that it would never happen again, then the hearing would have been speedily concluded. The reason why the hearing lasted so long and one of the reasons why the Court believes that Mr. Walker is presently unfit to practice law in this federal court is because of the attitude that he displayed at the hearing. Rather than admitting the error of his ways, Mr. Walker tried to justify his unacceptable conduct and attempted to do so with unsupportable arguments.*fn6 Further, Mr. Walker was equivocal as to how he would react should this type of situation arise again.*fn7

At the hearing, Mr. Walker attempted to characterize his conduct as being of such a nature so as not to reflect on his fitness to continue as a member of the bar of this Court. According to Mr. Walker, his conduct at the deposition fell into three basic categories: (1) the instances where he advised his client not to answer because the question called for privileged information; (2) the instances where he advised his client not to answer because the question, in his opinion, called for information not relevant or otherwise improper; and (3) extraneous comments or general discussion during the course of the deposition.*fn8 At the hearing, Mr. Walker testified that he only considered the latter category of his conduct to have been improper at the time.*fn9

Mr. Walker argued that all of his conduct was consistent with the ordinary and routine deposition practice of lawyers practicing in this district at the time,*fn10 including opposing counsel in the underlying case.*fn11 However, Mr. Walker's conduct at the deposition is clearly distinguishable from his perception of general pretrial practice because he was under direct order from Judge Baker "not to interfere with defense counsels' inquiries" and "[i]f plaintiff's counsel wishes to object, he should state his objection and the deponent give his answer subject to the objection." (09/26/89 Tr. at 12). Mr. Walker's knowing, deliberate, and willful disobedience of Judge Baker's order is discovery abuse of a genre never before seen by this Court. Mr. Walker's conduct is also the most egregious example of lawyer incivility that this Court has ever seen. Further, even if Mr. Walker's assessment of the general level of deposition practice were accurate, which it is not, this would not excuse Mr. Walker's unprofessional conduct. The Court is very troubled by Mr. Walker's assumption that it is permissible to engage in unprofessional conduct as long as other attorneys are doing the same thing.*fn12 This view of professional ethics is wrong and, if continued, will inevitably reduce the level of law practice to the lowest common denominator.

Mr. Walker also tried to convince this Court that he was duty bound to act as he did, out of the fidelity to his client's rights required by professional ethics, regardless of Judge Baker's order.*fn13 On more than one occasion during the hearing, Mr. Walker tried to lead this Court to believe that the major reason for his conduct was his concern about protecting the attorney-client privilege.*fn14 However, Judge Baker found, and the Seventh Circuit agreed, that "few, if any, of the questions raised a legitimate meritorious argument on the question of privilege." (Baker 01/29/90 Order at 2). When the Court pinned Mr. Walker down on this issue at the hearing, Mr. Walker finally conceded that there were only two questions asked in some 70 pages of transcript that had any bearing on the attorney-client privilege.*fn15 If Mr. Walker's objective had truly been to seek review of any of the allegedly privileged questions, surely he would have respectfully advised Judge Baker in the first instance that he disagreed with his order and intended to create a record for an interlocutory appeal.*fn16 Mr. Walker's privilege argument was nothing more than an attempt to mislead this Court as to the nature of his conduct and demonstrates his lack of fitness to practice before this Court.

The vast majority of the questions that Mr. Walker directed his client not to answer did not call for privileged information but were questions which Mr. Walker believed were "irrelevant" or "improper." With respect to these questions, Mr. Walker stated at the hearing:

    I am here to say that the rules should have
  been followed by me initially, and, well, I
  wasn't the one that first violated it, but the
  rule should have been followed initially and I
  should have followed the rule and the order
  because the Seventh Circuit has now said we're
  enforcing this rule literally, and I intend to
  follow it literally. But as I said, there are
  often court orders that are not obeyed, and I
  just gave you one example, and there are many
  more, they are not obeyed, not out of a personal
  contempt to the court or to the authority, but
  because that is the time honored way of phrasing
  issues. (Tr. 35).

  There was and is no legal basis for Mr. Walker to believe
that he could instruct his client not to answer such questions
at a deposition, and he did not need the Seventh Circuit to
tell him so. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 30(c) states

     . . All objections made at the time of the
  examination to the qualifications of the officer
  taking the deposition, or to the manner of taking
  it, or to the evidence presented, or to the
  conduct of any party, and any other objection to
  the proceedings, shall be noted by the officer
  upon the deposition. Evidence objected to shall
  be taken subject to the objections. Fed.R.Civ.P.

Because there was no legal basis for instructing his client not to answer such questions, Mr. Walker could not have reasonably believed that the appellate court would allow him to seek interlocutory review of the disputed questions.

If Mr. Walker had really felt professionally compelled to violate Judge Baker's order, the Court cannot think of a better way to do so than to inform Judge Baker in the telephone conference urged by opposing counsel. Mr. Walker now denies that Judge Baker had recommended that counsel initiate a telephone conference with the Court to resolve any dispute arising during the deposition.*fn18 Mr. Walker argues that there is no mention of the use of a telephone conference as a discovery dispute resolution mechanism in the Order of September 29, 1989, or the transcript of the hearing on September 26, 1989.*fn19 However, at the October 31, 1989 Deposition, neither Mr. Walker nor his associate, Mr. Engelbrecht, (who was at the September 26, 1989, hearing) challenged the fact that Judge Baker had made such a recommendation.*fn20 Further, at the hearing before Judge Baker on January 25, 1990, Judge Baker stated that:

    The other thing I regularly offer litigants, as
  I did in this case who have discovery disputes,
  to initiate a telephone conference with the court
  and on the record with a court reporter who will
  try to work them out so that expense will be
  saved to all the parties in the case and the case
  can move along and will obviate the necessity for
  hearings on motions to compel. (01/25/90 Tr. at

Mr. Walker's present contention that Judge Baker never made such a recommendation appears to be yet another attempt to justify his behavior after the fact.

Finally, in conjunction with his refusal to allow opposing counsel to use his telephone to call Judge Baker, Mr. Walker made the following comments that could reasonably be interpreted as threatening violence to opposing counsel.

  MR. WALKER: I would caution you not to use any
  telephones in this office unless you are invited
  to do so, counsel.

  MR. STANKO: You're telling me I can't use your

  MR. WALKER: You can write your threatening
  letters to me. But, you step outside this room
  and touch the telephone, and I'll take care of
  that in the way one does who has possessory
  rights. (10/31/89 Dep. Tr. at 14).

Mr. Walker denies any intent to threaten violence,*fn21 and opposing counsel graciously denies having felt threatened. Regardless, some type of threat was clearly expressed and intended by Mr. Walker.

Equally troubling is Mr. Walker's response to Attorney Palmer's complaint regarding this highly uncivil conversation. Mr. Walker stated in his written response filed January 15, 1992, that:

    Respondent recognizes that he should have
  responded differently. However, Respondent's
  conduct is certainly not grounds for suspension
  or disbarment. In Respondent's defense, he was
  totally unprepared for the situation. This event
  represented the first instance when someone
  threatened to use Respondent's telephone without
  consent. Respondent hopes that such a situation
  does not arise again, but if it should, he will be
  completely civil in refusing the request. (Emphasis

When questioned by the Court with respect to this response, Mr. Walker was evasive and only after much questioning stated somewhat equivocally that he would not engage in similar conduct in the future.*fn22

Disciplinary proceedings are taken very seriously by this Court. Mr. Walker's general attitude throughout the hearing was something less than forthright and sometimes bordered on outright deception regarding the reasons for his conduct at the deposition. The Court finds Mr. Walker's attempts to rationalize and justify his behavior as nothing more than an attempt to mislead this Court as to the motives behind his conduct. It is very clear from the record that Mr. Walker, from beginning to end, intended to impede and disrupt the taking of his client's deposition.*fn23 Based on his conduct at the hearing, the Court is not persuaded that he would not act the same way in the future with some new rationalization for his conduct.

Mr. Walker's conduct is yet another example of the deterioration in civility that is now endemic to the legal profession. We need look only to the Interim Report of the Committee on Civility of the Seventh Federal Judicial Circuit (April 1991):

  *   94% of judges found civility problems in
    lawyers' relations with each other (p. 8)

  *   79% of lawyers think civility problems arise
    most frequently in lawyers' relations among
    themselves (p. 9)

  *   94% of lawyers target discovery as the
    primary setting for uncivil conduct (p. 9).

The Interim Report states that:

    Scores of comments zero in on what may be
  generally called strategic non-compliance in
  discovery, including obstructing access to
  documents, burdensome requests for documents,
  refusals to make reasonable scheduling
  agreements, one upmanship, gamesmanship, sarcasm
  as a weapon, a failure to cooperate, and winning
  by trick or at any cost. (Interim Report at 17).

The underlying scenario orchestrated by Mr. Walker falls on all fours as a classic example and case history of the uncivil conduct deplored by the Interim Report on civility.

III.  Mr. Walker Violated Local Rule 1.2 And The Illinois Code
      Of Professional Responsibility, And Discipline Is
      Necessary And Appropriate.

The Court finds that Mr. Walker's conduct was contrary to and in violation of his oath as an attorney admitted to practice before this Court. During the taking of the deposition on October 31, 1989, Mr. Walker did not demean himself uprightly and according to law and the recognized standards of ethics of the profession as required by Rule 1.2(B)*fn24 of our Local Rules. Further, his conduct falls within the ambit of Rule 1.3(A) of the Local Rules which proscribes "conduct unbecoming a member of the bar of this Court."

The Court finds that Mr. Walker, by his conduct, violated the following provisions of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility:

(1) Rule 7-102(a)(1) of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility (now Rule 1.2(f)(1),*fn25 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct) by asserting a position and taking other action on behalf of a client when he knew or reasonably should have known that such action would serve merely to harass another;

(2) Rule 7-101(a)(1)(A) and Rule 7-109(a) of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility (now Rule 3.3(a)(11) and (13), Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct) by refusing "to accede to reasonable requests of opposing counsel that did not prejudice the rights of the client" and "suppressing evidence that [Walker] or his client had a legal obligation to reveal or produce";

(3) Rule 7-109(a) of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility (now Rule 3.4(a)(1), Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct) by unlawfully obstructing another party's access to evidence and counseling another person to do so;

(4) Rule 7-101(a)(C) and (D) of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility by engaging in "offensive tactics" and [failing to treat] "with courtesy and consideration other persons involved in the legal process"; and,

(5) Rule 1-102(a)(5) of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility (now Rule 8.4(a)(5), Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct) by "engaging in conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice."

Based on this conduct and the attitude displayed by Mr. Walker regarding this conduct, the Court must exercise its inherent powers to discipline Mr. Walker to assure that the trust and confidence of the public in the legal profession and the integrity of the courts is not violated.*fn26 We think suspension is appropriate in this case.*fn27 We are mindful that this case will set a standard within this district for those practicing lawyers who engage in unprofessional conduct when attending or taking depositions. However, the fact that this is a case of first impression in this district such that Mr. Walker may not have expected our condemnation of his conduct, carries little weight. One does not have to be forewarned that just and lawful orders of the Court are to be complied with on pain of some form of discipline.

This is not Mr. Walker's first censure for disobedience of court orders. In Kilpatrick v. First Church of the Nazarene, 182 Ill. App.3d 461, 130 Ill.Dec. 925, 538 N.E.2d 136 (4th Dist. 1989), appeal denied, 127 Ill.2d 618, 136 Ill.Dec. 588, 545 N.E.2d 112 (1989), Mr. Walker represented plaintiff in a personal injury complaint. On February 24, 1987, after six days of trial and upon completion of the evidentiary phase of the proceedings, the trial court granted defendant's motion for a mistrial based on the conduct of plaintiff's counsel, James Walker. In addition, judgment was entered against Walker and his client in the amount of $7,120.90 for attorney's fees and costs incurred in the mistrial. In Kilpatrick, the appellate court observed that Walker's conduct "indicated a conscious attempt to damage the trial proceedings. His conduct in the jury trial of referring to repairs made after the accident was a violation of court order." (emphasis in original.) Kilpatrick, 130 Ill.Dec. at 926, 538 N.E.2d at 137. The court noted that "[e]ven after the trial court subsequently barred further reference to repairs, Walker continued to make blatant references to the repairs." Id. While overturning the award of attorney's fees against Respondent Walker, the Kilpatrick court concluded that:

    This opinion does not condone Walker's trial
  tactics. While the existing statutes and Supreme
  Court rules do not allow assessment of attorney
  expenses, the contempt powers of the trial court
  should be used to prevent conduct of the type
  evidenced in this cause. Kilpatrick, 130 Ill.Dec.
  at 931, 538 N.E.2d at 142.

This Court also takes note of the judgment of contempt and resulting fines totalling $81,655.01 entered against Mr. Walker by the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern District of New York for his violation of the courts' orders issued in In re Joint Eastern and Southern District Asbestos Litigation, 129 B.R. 710 (E. & S.D.N.Y. 1991).*fn28 In that cause, the courts issued two separate orders staying all collection proceedings by asbestos litigants or their attorney against the Manville Corporation's asbestos litigation claim trust fund (the "Trust"). Despite a finding by the courts that Mr. Walker received notice of the contents of both orders (a fact Mr. Walker has neither contested nor challenged), he continued to pursue collection actions against the Trust in multiple state court actions resulting in the present contempt judgment. Because challenges interposed by Mr. Walker to the contempt judgment and associated sanctions have not yet been resolved in their entirety, the Court is restrained from commenting fully on Mr. Walker's actions. However, the Court does think it proper to note that Mr. Walker's uncontested disobedience of the New York court's orders, regardless of the reasons for such, indicates disrespect and disregard for the norms and traditions of the legal system.

At the June 26, 1992, hearing, Mr. Walker spent a great deal of time describing all of the contributions that his advocacy has made to the law. There is no doubt that Mr. Walker is a knowledgeable and experienced trial lawyer. However, Mr. Walker's legal accomplishment and expertise are basically irrelevant to the question before this Court: whether Mr. Walker is willing and able to comport himself in a manner which meets the minimal standards of professionalism and civility required of practitioners in the Federal District Court for the Central District of Illinois.

It is critical to the orderly processes of this Court that any attorney licensed to practice in this Court be committed to avoiding violation of a direct court order. The Court does not believe that Mr. Walker is so committed. Mr. Walker engaged in unprofessional conduct. He then (1) tried to mislead this Court as to the motivations behind his unprofessional conduct; (2) refused to unequivocally concede that his conduct was improper; and, (3) failed to satisfy the Court that he would comport himself in a civilized and professional manner in the future. Therefore, the Court concludes that Mr. Walker should be seriously disciplined by this Court for conduct which is considered to be totally unprofessional and unacceptable. The Court finds it both necessary and appropriate to suspend Mr. Walker from the practice of law before this Federal District Court for a minimum of one year. After a period of one year, Mr. Walker may file for reinstatement to the bar of this Court, at which time, he will bear the burden of demonstrating to the Court that he should be reinstated.


All things considered, IT IS ORDERED that Mr. Walker be and he is hereby suspended from the practice of law as a member of the bar of this Court for a period of one year and until further order of this Court.

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