IS YOUR ATTORNEY ENGAGED IN FRAUD?

The Illinois Supreme Court has issued court decisions which has defined "fraud" by an attorney.

It should be noted that the definition of fraud applies to everything an attorney may be engaged in, whether in court, in his office, or even at the neighborhood restaurant. The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, the official commission involved in the investigation of misconduct of attorneys, has investigated an attorney who was the president of his condominium association and who was charged with fraud by a condominium owner.

Note that the operative phrase is "anything calculated to deceive". It is not required that your attorney did in fact deceive you or the court, only that he engaged in any activity in which you or the court could have been deceived. Further an attorney has a fiduciary duty to his client, a duty which is over and beyond what a non-attorney's duty is to another person.

The Illinois Supreme Court has held in In re Eugene Lee Armentrout, Jay Robert Grodner, Charles A. Petersen, Kim Edward Presbrey, William H. Weir, and William John Truemper, Jr., 99 Ill.2d 242, 75 Ill.Dec. 703, 457 N.E.2d 1262 (1983) that:

"Fraud encompasses a broad range of human behavior, including " ' * * * anything calculated to deceive, * * * whether it be by direct falsehood or by innuendo, by speech or by silence, by word of mouth or by look or gesture.' " (Regenold v. Baby Fold, Inc. (1977), 68 Ill.2d 419, 435, 12 Ill.Dec. 151, 369 N.E.2d 858, citing People ex rel. Chicago Bar Association v. Gilmore (1931), 345 Ill. 28, 46, 177 N.E. 710; In re Alschuler (1944), 388 Ill. 492, 503-04; Black's Law Dictionary 594 (5th ed. 1979).) Too, this court has previously disciplined lawyers even though their fraudulent misconduct did not harm [99 Ill.2d 252] any particular individual. In re Lamberis (1982), 93 Ill.2d 222, 229, 66 Ill.Dec. 623, 443 N.E.2d 549."

"The Court has broadly defined fraud as any conduct calculated to deceive, whether it be by direct falsehood or by innuendo, by speech or silence, by word of mouth, by look, or by gesture. Fraud includes the suppression of the truth, as well as the presentation of false information. (In re Witt (1991) 145 Ill.2d 380, 583 N.E.2d 526, 531, 164 Ill. Dec. 610).". See also In re Frederick Edward Strufe, Disciplinary case no. 93 SH 100 where the Court stated that "Fraud has been broadly defined as anything calculated to deceive."

It is clear and well-established Illinois law that any attempt by any officer of the court, whether attorney or judge, to deceive is considered fraud, and when the attempt to deceive occurs in a judicial proceeding, it is "fraud upon the court".

Has your attorney or judge engaged in fraud?

Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct states that:
"A lawyer shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation."

Has your attorney or judge engaged in misconduct?

See Fraud upon the court

See "Fraud upon the court" makes void
the orders and judgments of that court

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Created May 13, 1999

Last updated December 19, 2002