liberty

JACPA Ethics Alert

                                                                                                                         

Illinois lawyer who lied about mother’s death to justify discovery

delays and the continuance of a hearing consents to disbarment

 

 

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent motion for disbarment filed by an Illinois lawyer in response to allegations that he lied about his mother’s death and his own health to try to justify discovery delays and support a continuance of a hearing in two separate cases.  The case is In the Matter of: Keith Joseph Hays, Supreme Court No. M.R.27422 Commission No. 2014PR00065.  The lawyer resigned from the Indiana Bar in April 2015.  The lawyer filed a motion requesting that his name be stricken from the list of Illinois Attorneys and the link to the Illinois Bar Statement of Charges and is here:  http://www.iardc.org/P14PR0065OC.html   

 

According to the Statement of Charges, the lawyer lied about the reasons for his delayed responses to discovery and request to continue a hearing in two Indiana cases, and made settlement offers without authorization in a third case. 

 

In one case, the lawyer justified his delays in responding to discovery requests by claiming that his mother had been “killed in a violent car accident in the state of Colorado.”  The lawyer also said that she died in “the fire and smoke inhalation from the resulting conflagration,” and that he was “left scrambling between Indiana, Colorado and Idaho for weeks trying to get his mother buried, her estate resolved and her pets adopted.”  The lawyer’s mother not been involved in a car accident or died.

 

In another case, the lawyer filed an emergency motion to continue a hearing and claimed that he had been diagnosed with “double pneumonia” and went to an emergency room; however, the lawyer did not actually have pneumonia and, incredibly, he billed his client for time that he spent working on the case when he was supposedly incapacitated.

 

The lawyer admitted to the following facts:

 

“In 2011, Respondent represented Staples the Office Superstore East (a subsidiary of Staples, Inc.; hereafter, “Staples”), the defendant in a personal injury action filed in Indiana state court by Max Jackson (“Jackson”). In the course of discovery, Jackson filed a motion for sanctions alleging that Respondent’s client, Staples, had failed to fully respond to a request for production of documents and interrogatories. Respondent filed a response in which he claimed, in part, that his mother had been “killed in a violent car accident in the state of Colorado,” that she perished from “the fire and smoke inhalation from the resulting conflagration,” and that Respondent “was left scrambling between Indiana, Colorado and Idaho for weeks trying to get his mother buried, her estate resolved and her pets adopted.” Respondent’s statements were false, and he knew they were false, since his mother had neither died nor been involved in a car accident, and Respondent had not been “left scrambling between Indiana, Colorado and Idaho” to resolve his mother’s affairs.”

 

“In 2011, Respondent represented Reed & Company, P.C. (“Reed”), the defendant in a civil lawsuit filed in Indiana state court by Wabash Center, Inc. (“Wabash”). After Wabash filed a motion for partial summary judgment, the court set the matter for hearing on that motion. On the date of the scheduled hearing, Respondent filed an emergency motion requesting that the hearing be continued, based on his representation that the day before, he had been diagnosed with “double pneumonia” and sent to the emergency room. Respondent’s statements were false, and Respondent knew they were false, as Respondent had not been sent to the emergency room with pneumonia, and in fact, he had billed his client Reed for time spent preparing a summary judgment motion on Reed’s behalf during the time period that he purportedly was incapacitated.”

 

Bottom line: According to the facts to which the lawyer admitted, he made some incredible false statements which could easily be refuted, and his lies were ultimately discovered.  I’m not doctor, but there would appear to be some serious psychological issues underlying this conduct. 

 

           As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.             

My law firm focuses on review, analysis, and interpretation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, advice and representation of lawyers in Bar disciplinary matters, defense of applicants for admission to The Florida Bar before the Board of Bar Examiners, defense of all Florida licensed professionals in discipline and admission matters before all state agencies and boards, expert ethics opinions, and practice management for lawyers and law firms.  If there is a lawyer or other Florida professional license involved, I can defend the complaint or help you get your license. 

If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (727) 799-1688 or e-mail me at[email protected].  You can find my law firm on the web at www.jac-law.com. In addition to handling individual cases, matters, problems and issues for my clients, I also am on retainer to provide ethics advice to numerous lawyers and law firms throughout the state of Florida.  I also provide legal assistance and advice to numerous individuals and non-legal entities to help insure compliance with the law and rules related to UPL and other issues.

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Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

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Clearwater, Florida 33759