Friday, September 26, 2008

More on the stripping-for-legal-services case

The reports of the disciplinary hearing board and review board confirm that the lawyer in question was sanctioned primarily on the basis of extensive findings regarding his abuse of the lawyer-client relationship and criminal acts of sexual assault, as well as lying to the police.

While I wrote before the Illinois does not have a codified per se rule against lawyer-client sexual conduct, it turns out that like some other states, Illinois nevertheless has a judicially-crafted per se rule. The board had no need to decide whether receive exotic dances alone constituted a sexual relationship, because the lawyer engaged in much more direct, and unwanted, sexual contact. Accordingly, he was sanctioned more severely than lawyers who had sex with consenting clients.

In other words, this was really a case about straightforward abuse and misconduct, not about the use of exotic dance as in-kind payment. However, the hearing board did say this:
[Lawyer] admitted [client] performed nude dances for him in his office in exchange for a reduction of his bill. This admission alone is sufficient to support a finding of misconduct. However, because of our other findings, we need not, and do not, base our recommendation on this finding alone.
The review board agreed that this conduct "is reprehensible in and of itself." But because this case involved additional and much more serious conduct, neither body made clear its reasoning on this point.

The reports I've linked to are lengthy, and boil down to "don't assault your clients (and by the way also don't play games with the definition of 'sexual relationship' either)." But I can't help pointing out this icky-squicky moment, from a tape of a conversation between the parties:

[Client]: It's been more than that. I know it has. But every time I'm here, there's been touching and groping and stuff like that, every time.

[Lawyer]: Not every time you've been in my office, no....
[Client]: If it was dancing, I have no problem with dancing. I love dancing and I love - that's my job, but you took it a lot further than that, I mean -

[Lawyer]: Well, only because you let me.
Gah. Which is why even exotic dancers who want to trade their services for legal help will be glad this guy isn't practicing law for awhile.

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