To: kenneth ditkowsky <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Robert Holstein’s trial
Date: Sep 24, 2014 1:21 AM
Robert Holstein was charged in two counts by the ARDC. The first one was for not paying a law firm a $24,000 judgment and the second was not disclosing he had a credit card in a Citation Judgment proceeding.
But the trial determined the credit cards were not his, they were his girlfriend’s. He continued to operate his law firm, paying bills, but not paying himself and did not pay the $24,000 judgement, tho he did repeatedly call the attorney and attempt to work out a payment plan. The law firm refused any payment plan.
Bob Holstein’s position was, he had to pay the immediate debts of the law firm, –phone, rent, utilities, salaries, in order to survive. I believe the Citation forms say a debtor can keep tools of his trade which makes sense because you want a debtor to be able to continue to earn a living to pay all his creditors.
Bob did not take any salary from the law firm after numerous judgments were entered, but he lived off his girlfriend. (Maybe they won’t like that, I don’t know).
While he did take in fees from PI cases, many of those fees were already liened with case expenses or monies owed to vendors.
But one thing he screwed upon was the fact that the law firm gave him a $24,000 bill and Bob did point out that many of the charges appeared to be bogus, if not entirely fictitious. That should have been challenged, but he was defaulted in arbitration for show up late to an 8 am Skokie call. Next, he sued the law firm in question because they screwed up his bankruptcy schedules causing the bankruptcy not to be discharged. Of course, the law firm successfully put the blame on Bob and the malpractice case was eventually dismissed. But the most interesting point is that they then sued Bob, while Bob’s malpractice case was up on appeal, for the legal fees and got a judgment! Bob should have alleged res judicata or collateral estoppel. This was same series of transactions, same facts and same parties, and I know there is an Illinois case (I can get it for anyone that wants it) under nearly the same facts. In that case, an attorney worked at a firm and gave them her personal case. The firm screwed up the case. She quit and sued them for malpractice and lost. After that, the firm sued her for fees. The Illinois appellate court agreed the case was barred by Res Judicata because the fee claim should have been brought as a counter claim in the malpractice case.
Should be an interesting decision. It would be fun to call the atty ethics hotline and ask what they recommend about judgments and paying them if you don’t have the funds.
I also wonder about the argument that Bob had a gazillion other creditors he had worked out payment plans with and was paying, and why the heck would a lawyer favor a law firm for monies owed over other creditors. Typically, no one cares about debts owed to a law firm over other debts, and that’s just as it should be.
The most interesting part of the entire proceeding is that it is “Karavidas” like in nature. Karavidas makes it clear the ARDC is not to go after attorneys for personal issues that are not part of their atty-client duties, right? In the Karavidas case (published elsewhere on this blog), Karavidas was appointed an estate representative and took money out of the estate as a personal loan, but did pay it back. That was breach of fiduciary duty and self dealing–typically fairly serious in nature, but no, SCOI said no harm no foul and Karavidas could not be disciplined because he was not the atty on the case.
But here is what the hearing board and the ARDC attorneys said about Karavidas today. (it was like they were in unison spoon fed the meaning of the case without actually reading it). They said during Bob’s trial that Karavidas did not apply to him! They said that an attorney for sure can be disciplined for personal activities not part of attorney client duties because (get this), all Karavidas said was that the ARDC had to make its pleadings more specific and link an activity to a rule violation. They said that Karavidas did not say the ARDC could not discipline an attorney for private or personal activities conducted outside an atty client relationship because (get this one)–you can still discipline an attorney for criminal conduct not part of an atty client relationship!
An amazing and creative rendition of that case. In fact, that alone made it worthwhile for me to watch that case for about 2 days.
As creative as these trials are, they should all be taped.
Next fun thing about the trial is how I like to go to these trials and observe and blog. Apparently the ARDC doesn’t like that because they covered up all the outlets in the galley!
So if you want to blog all day, bring all day batteries and a fully charged laptop. The ARDC still does not feel it has sufficient transparency and accountability to promote or even merely allow blogging and note taking in it’s hearing rooms! I for sure would never be proud of that.
Last point is, that Bob Holstein (age 78) was clearly an emotional wreck over all these ARDC proceedings and did not have counsel. We all agreed that the ARDC should have public defenders or low cost defenders for those attys that cannot afford counsel or cannot find counsel. No attorney should be alone during these trials either, that’s why I was there. Had I more time, I could have organized more people to go. The ARDC provides a list of 30 alleged “ARDC defense counsel” but if you call, email or fax them only about 5 respond, and of those no one wanted my case because it was a “blogging” case and no one knew anything about that.
I propose the ARDC, with its nearly $400 per attorney per year fees set up a public defender or low cost legal assistance program.