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U.S. v. ONE PARCEL OF REAL ESTATE

April 4, 2002

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
V.
ONE PARCEL OF REAL ESTATE LOCATED AT 1948 MARTIN LUTHER KING DRIVE, SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, ET AL., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, United States District Judge.

OPINION

When attorney Bruce Locher's discovery motion was denied, he took an underhanded course to obtain that which the Court said he could not have.

There is a price to be paid for this misconduct.

Mr. Locher is sanctioned $1,000.00.

FACTS

Mr. Locher represented Marvin Logan, father of Springfield area drug kingpin Melvin Logan, in a civil forfeiture case before this Court.

On May 26, 1999, Mr. Locher sought leave to file a motion for production of probation and parole records. In its June 7, 1999, Order, the Court informed Mr. Locher that the discovery deadline expired on March 19, 1999, that the deadline had previously been extended for his benefit by a period of 120 days, and that he had ample time within the extended discovery period to file a timely motion for production. Explaining that it would "not sanction the current attempt to extend discovery well beyond the Court imposed deadline as the trial" approached, the Court denied Mr. Locher's motion for production. The Court also warned him that it would not tolerate additional delay and that further "dilatory conduct may justify the imposition of sanctions."
Try as the Court did to impress on Mr. Locher that its patience and the discovery period had both ended, these efforts were to no avail. On August 19, 1999, Mr. Locher appeared in U.S. District Judge Jeanne E. Scott's courtroom during a sentencing hearing for Melvin Logan, the drug kingpin who supplied the money used to purchase the real estate, cars, etc. at issue in the forfeiture case. Without ever mentioning this Court's June 7, 1999, Order, or the fact that discovery had expired, Mr. Locher made an oral motion for a copy of Melvin Logan's presentence investigation report ("PSR"). Judge Scott asked Melvin Logan, his attorney, and counsel for the Government if any of them objected to Mr. Locher's motion. When no one objected, Judge Scott ordered the United States Probation Office to provide Mr. Locher with a copy of Logan's PSR.

Mr. Locher's backdoor ploy might have gone undetected had his co-counsel not used the PSR to later cross examine a Government witness. When the Court asked co-counsel how he got a copy of the PSR, co-counsel said that "It was disclosed as a result of the motion that Mr. Locher made orally to Judge Scott."

The Court inquired of Mr. Locher whether he told Judge Scott that he had moved for a copy of the PSR on May 26, 1999, and that the Court denied his motion in its June 7 Order. Mr. Locher admitted that he did not tell Judge Scott about the June 7 Order.
The Court informed Mr. Locher that it was of the opinion he "appear[ed] to have at the least dissembled with Judge Scott and tried to go in the back door and get what he could not get in through the front of this case." It invited Mr. Locher to dissuade it of that opinion, and he explained:
Your Honor, my motion which was filed May 26th, 1999, asked this Court specifically for the probation and parole records of certain informant witnesses that the Government intended to call during the trial. And that was the motion that this Court ruled upon and denied. Melvin Logan is not an informant witness. He's a defendant in that case. That's the motion that was before the Court, Your Honor. That's the motion you denied.

R. at 639.

The Court held the issue of Mr. Locher's conduct in abeyance until March of 2000. At that time, the Court issued two opinions. One held that 18 of the properties at issue in the forfeiture case should be forfeited. The other ordered Mr. Locher to pay $1,000.00 in sanctions "for his willful failure to abide by the Court's ruling and for his deceptive and disobedient conduct in obtaining Melvin Logan's PSR."*fn1 See United States v. One Parcel of Real Estate Located at 1948 Martin Luther King Drive, Springfield, Ill., 2000 WL 331749, *3 (C.D.Ill.). Given the egregious nature ...

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