Calling in Sick May be Hazardous to a Lawyer’s Career

The Illinois Supreme Court recently issued an order suspending an attorney for sixty days after faking an illness to avoid oral arguments before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The order, which came on the heels of a scathing opinion by the 7th Circuit, also required the lawyer to pay $5,000 in restitution to his client’s mother, as well as to repay the state’s client protection fund for any payments made as a result of his conduct.

On the morning that oral arguments were scheduled to take place before the 7th Circuit, the lawyer called the clerk’s office and informed the clerk that he would not be appearing in court that day. The clerk subsequently attempted to contact the lawyer and notify him that his attendance was required, but the lawyer failed to respond. As a result, the arguments proceeded without the lawyer, and his client ultimately lost the appeal.

In the order to show cause, the Circuit Court requested that the lawyer supply medical documentation of his claimed illness, such as a certificate showing his admission to an emergency room. After failing to supply any such documentation, the lawyer admitted that he had feigned an illness because he felt unprepared to proceed. Concluding that the lawyer had acted unprofessionally, the 7th Circuit fined him $1,000 and stated that it would refrain from appointing him to any appeals under the Criminal Justice Act for 24 months. In doing so, the court acknowledged that, “[t]o leave a client unrepresented on the morning of oral argument is nothing short of appalling.”

Click here to read commentary on the suspension.

1 Comment

  1. Very interesting that there can be ramifications for a lawyer calling in sick.

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