See attached links to pleadings.
link to decision of review board:
link to Petition for Writ of Cert to SCOI:
From the Review Board board decision:
The Administrator charged Respondent with the following misconduct: (1) in representing
a client, engaging in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal; (2) making a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge; and (3) engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rules 3.5(d), 8.2(a), and 8.4(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct
The Administrator presented testimony from Respondent as an adverse witness. The
Administrator’s Exhibits 1-13 were admitted into evidence. (Tr. 16). Respondent testified on her own behalf and presented Michael Fields as a character witness. Respondent’s Exhibits 1.1-1.3, 2.1-2.3, 3.1, 3.3, 3.4, 5.9, 5.10, 5.28, 5.30, 5.31, 5.33-5.38, 6.1-6.3, 9.23, 10.1-10.5, 11.3, 11.5, 11.7, and 11.8 were admitted into evidence. (Tr. 487-521).1
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
The Administrator bears the burden of proving the charges of misconduct by clear and
convincing evidence. In re Thomas, 2012 IL 113035, ¶ 56. Clear and convincing evidence
constitutes a high level of certainty, which is greater than a preponderance of the evidence but less stringent than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Williams, 143 Ill. 2d 477, 577 N.E.2d 762 (1991). The Hearing Board assesses witness credibility, resolves conflicting testimony, makes factual findings, and determines whether the Administrator met the burden of proof. In re Winthrop, 219 Ill. 2d 526, 542-43, 848 N.E.2d 961 (2006).
Respondent is charged with making false or reckless statements impugning Magistrate
Judge Finnegan’s integrity, engaging in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal, and engaging
in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of Rules 3.5(d), 8.2(a) and
The Administrator proved by clear and convincing evidence that Respondent sent three
emails to Magistrate Judge Finnegan’s email account containing statements about Magistrate Judge Finnegan’s integrity that were false or made with reckless disregard as to their truth or falsity. By sending the inappropriate emails, particularly after being instructed not to do so, Respondent engaged in conduct that disrupted the tribunal and prejudiced the administration of justice.
B. Admitted Facts and Evidence Considered
Respondent has been licensed to practice in Illinois since 2006. She is also licensed in
Texas and Michigan. (Tr. 54-55).
Barry Epstein hired Respondent in 2012 to represent him in a dissolution proceeding filed
by Paula Epstein. In 2014, Respondent filed a complaint on Barry’s behalf in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that Paula and her attorney, Jay Frank, violated federal law by accessing Barry’s private emails without his authorization. (Tr. 55). Magistrate Judge Sheila Finnegan (Judge Finnegan) supervised discovery in the federal proceeding. Judge Finnegan maintained an email account known as the “proposed order account”.
The charges before us arise from three email messages Respondent sent to the proposed order account and others involved in the Epstein proceedings. (Tr. 56).
Respondent sent the first email at issue on April 18, 2017, after Judge Finnegan denied her
emergency motion for an extension of time to take Paula’s deposition. Respondent sent the email to the proposed order account, opposing counsel Scott Schaefers, and Scott White, the courtroom deputy. It stated as follows in relevant part:
Today in court, no matter what I said to you, you had already made up your mind,
and even questioned my sincerity with regard to my preparation for upcoming trial.
. . . since the beginning, you never seem to doubt anything he [Schaefers] says, as
you appear to doubt me. Still, I stated to you in open court that “I don’t want to be
hated” for doing my job, but it sure seems that way, as I never get a break. Scott is
the lucky guy who senses same as he can just pick up the phone to call you knowing
he will get his way…or for so-called the Posner Defense2.
It’s not fair that my client (and I) is [sic] being treated badly for suing his wife/ex
wife, and everyone is protecting Paula – why? Since when does “two” wrongs make
a “right”? [sic] How am I to prove my case if I am not given a fair chance to do
my work, properly.
(Adm. Ex. 1).
The following day, Judge Finnegan instructed Respondent that the parties were not to use
the proposed order account to argue the merits of a motion, share their feelings about a ruling, or talk generally about the case with her. She told Respondent her email was improper and directed her not to send any such emails in the future. (Adm. Ex. 1). Respondent received and understood
Judge Finnegan’s instructions. (Tr. 69-70).
On June 15, 2017, Respondent filed a motion to extend discovery and for leave to depose
Jay Frank. Judge Finnegan denied the motion. Allison Engel, Judge Finnegan’s law clerk, emailed a copy of Judge Finnegan’s order to Respondent and Schaefers at 6:37 p.m. on June 23, 2017. Two hours later, Respondent sent an email to Engel, Schaefers, and the proposed order account which stated as follows, in relevant part:
I’m very upset, I do not agree with Judge Finnegan’s order and I will depose the
former co-defendant, Jay Frank, despite the fact this court is protecting him and his
co-conspirer! Scott Schaefers had no standing to challenge my subpoena to depose
Jay Frank! I’m entitled to depose him! And I will call him to testy [sic] at trial to
show the world what a corrupt lawyer he is! And the judges who protect this
criminal by squeezing the discovery deadlines!!! No no no!
This is outrageous order of Judge Finnegan and it will be addressed accordingly!
Judges are helping the criminal to escape punishment by forcing to shorten all
This Judge is violating my client’s rights first by the truncated discovery deadlines
and now helping Plaintiff to escape punishment for wrongs she committed!
I’m outraged by the miscarriage of justice and judges are in this to delay and deny
justice for my client!
I’m sickened by this Order!!!
(Adm. Ex. 2).
On June 26, 2017, Respondent sent another email to Engel, Schaefers, and the proposed
order account, which stated as follows in relevant part:
Plaintiff’s motion is not late just because this court decided not to extend discovery
deadlines, to protect the Defendant! I have asked this court numerous times for an
extension of all cutoff deadlines, without avail. Take this into account when
drafting your flawed order.
For anyone to insult me in this degree calls questions [sic] this court’s sincerity and
veracity. How dare you accuse me of not having looked at the SC docket regularly.
How do you know I did not see the SC order???? Where do you get this
information? Exparte communications with Defendant’s attorney, Scott? –
smearing dirt behind my back?
The more I read this order, again and again, I am sick to my stomach, and I get
filled with anger and disgust over this ‘fraudulent’ order by this court!
You both, Allison and J. Finnegan, have done me wrong, and depicted me very
poorly in your public order. How dare you do that to me?!
What goes around comes around, justice will be done at the end! I wonder how you
people sleep at night? Including Scott! (Adm. Ex. 3).
On June 27, 2017, Judge Finnegan entered an order admonishing Respondent for violating
her directives related to the proposed order account and making highly inappropriate statements.
Judge Finnegan directed Respondent to immediately cease all email communication with her and her staff. (Adm. Ex. 4).
End pertinent portions
I just don’t understand why the judge had to file a disciplinary complaint over 3 emails which simply pointed out that Attorney Lane believed that the Judge was favoring opposing counsel over her client. It is not uncommon for judges to take a husband’s side over the wife’s side or vice versa, but that should not happen. And in reality, the discovery period was in fact uncommonly short. That should not happen either.
We all know what to do when someone emails you and you don’t like the person, their email, their opinions and even the horse they rode in on. You block them. It takes only two key strikes, click on block and confirm and you’re done. Even children as young as 5 know how to do this. But this judge can’t do tht and just move on? Obivously she has an ego problem, is in fact biased and a goddess complex where she can’t ever be criticized but she will wait and listen for criticism and then file a bar complaint against the attorney that is merely pointing out flaws in what the judge is doing.
Judges cannot and should not be immune from criticism. They are not supposed to read books or watch the news, so who will them them when they are clearly out of bounds and no one is noticing it.
And in addition, they were all lawyers, and you cannot insult a lawyer, no matter how hard you try. They got the no criticism vaccine soon as they took their judicial oath.
If this judge does not like an attorney’s emails, she has the right to block her. No judge has to listen to anything from an attorney that is not in a pleading.
As for routine scheduling matters, the judges shouldn’t be getting into that either. They all have assistants.
Three emails criticizing a judge over bias should also be a constitutional right.
The first amendment grants the right to criticize your government, with almost no exceptions.
Free speech is subject to the standard of “strict scrutiny” which requires:
- a compelling govt interest (and exactly what is compelling about controlling anyone’s right to criticize a judge regarding bias?)
- That there is no lesser restrictive means to controlling the speech (assuming that there is a compelling reason in the first place). Certainly there is an easy, simple means for judges to control speech they don’t like, it’s called blocking an email.
- That the action taken will be effective and will work.
Attorneys do not lose their ability to criticize a judge just because they have a law license.
The 9 month discipline is insane in light of the fact the judge could have easily blocked the attorney and let the judge’s assistant deal with the attorney. These emails were directed to the judge’s assistant regardless. The assistant’s job clearly is not to relay complaints to the judge, she should direct the attorney instead to the (worthless) JIB or Judicial Inquiry Board. And then they will contact the Judge about the complaints, but isn’t this the same thing? Does it really matter that one step was skipped in all of this.
In any case, this whole matter is ridiculous and should have never happened in the first place. Attorney Lane apologized to the Judge but the Judge never apologized to Lane about reporting her over 3 emails that she didn’t have to read or see, that was her choice. Bad choice.
But the real upshot in all of this is that attorneys routinely steal thousands of dollars from the public, do nothing and then client complains to the ARDC and the ARDC does absolutely nothing. Cases in point: Anthony Phillips paid attorney Joanne Bruzgul some $22k for a probate case. She filed a fee petition for $60,000 and got paid in full. Anthony Phillips should have been refunded $22k by Bruzgul and he sent a complaint and a demand for an accounting from the ARDC. ARDC does bupkis; 2) In the estate of Alice Gore attorney Miriam Solo wants to be paid $60k, but the estate has already been looted and down to zero. So she gets the probate court to rubber stamp a false judgment (alleging daughter stole $60k from the accounts, but the accountings do not show any theft), so what does the ARDC do about the fake $60k judgement? again nada and zilch; 3) in the infamous Mary Sykes case, the estate is looted, but attorney Peter Schmeidel has a legal bill for $260k, so what does he do? Another fake judgment against daughter Gloria Sykes alleging she stole $260k from the estate, but she didn’t steal anything, these were insurance proceeds from a policy she paid for, on a house that was hers for mold damage and breast cancer she got from the mold.
Attorneys steal all over the place, but go complain to the ARDC and what will you get? zilch and zero.
Make a federal district court judge shed a tear over 3 emails complaining of bias and improper conduct by a judge, what do you get? 9 months of discipline.
And the way the ARDC goes on and on about how the statements were false (no, they were not, the ARDC wasn’t there) and impugned the integrity of the court (which likely had no integrity in the first place) and “disrupted” a tribunal (really? two keystrokes to hit the block feature? really?) is beyond the pale.
Everyone should have the free and open right to criticize a judge when she wanders into the territory of patent bias and corruption.
Now that should be protected speech.
And the ARDC should get off it’s duff and stop attorneys from openly stealing thousands from clients and the public.
We all know what’s going on. Neither judges nor the ARDC can hide their currying favor with judges, hiding obvious crimes and gross failure to protect the public.