Lawyer accused of calling opposing counsel 'lowlife bottom-feeder' says term was 'entirely truthful and accurate'
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Updated: A suburban Chicago lawyer has admitted that he called a judge a clown and an opposing lawyer a “lowlife bottom-feeder,” but he said his comments were truthful or constitutionally protected speech.
Lawyer Edwin Franklin Bush III of Des Plaines, Illinois, “vigorously contested” ethics allegations by the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission in an answer filed Aug. 27, the Legal Profession Blog reports.
Bush made the comments last year while representing himself in his divorce case, according to the IARDC’s Aug. 5 complaint. Bush contended that his estranged wife was lying, his children missed him and wanted parenting time with him, and the judge was moving too slowly to grant a hearing on remand from an appeals court.
Bush allegedly sent emails with these statements to opposing lawyers:
• “I strenuously object to you being a lowlife bottom-feeder, who suborns perjury, breaks the IRPC and extorts your own client.”
• “If it means your fat ass and your suborning perjury piece of s- -t daughter [who is one of the lawyers] have to get an order of protection against me, we will be in court … one way or the other. You are all child abusing filth, all of you. Bring it. When the justice system fails, I will have my recourse.”
In his answer, Bush said statements about the opposing lawyers were “entirely truthful and accurate.” He also said the statements were made while the lawyers were “purposely countermanding” the remand hearing mandated by an appeals court.
“Domestic relations attorneys are well known amongst the bar and the public to be bottom-feeders,” he wrote in the answer. Bush said he has “spoken to ethics attorneys for years who note the volume of complaints they receive involving these attorneys and call these attorneys bottom-feeders themselves. Domestic relations attorneys generally graduate from third- and fourth-tier law schools and will do almost anything for money, including suborn perjury from mentally ill parents.”
The complaint also accuses Bush of making these statements to the judge during a hearing:
• “That’s why this is the clown car. You are a clown.”
• “You’re a child abuser. I mean, honestly, I should call DCFS on you because you’ve abused these children for two years. What you have done and what people like you do to people all over this country is a disgrace.”
Bush said many of the statements to the judge were protected First Amendment speech.
Bush said the judge violated the remand order and flip-flopped on whether to grant him parenting time. Judges are “no longer privileged to the normal courtesies” when they abuse their power and an Illinois appeals court mandate, Bush wrote.
Bush also said the judge was suffering from an “undiagnosed brain tumor” at the time, causing memory loss and erratic behavior.
The judge “just spent an entire hearing, recorded on video, eating peanuts and demeaning the 25-30 bystanders as the ‘peanut gallery,’” Bush wrote.
Bush is also accused of making secret recordings of conversations during counseling sessions and with his estranged wife in violation of Illinois law.
Bush said one session was recorded with the consent of the doctor, and he recorded the sessions to protect the rights of himself and his children. He also said the recordings were justified under a crime-fraud exception because he knew that the crime of perjury was being committed.
Bush added that parents “routinely record themselves and their children to protect themselves from false allegations in kangaroo custody proceedings.”
“This commission is apparently lost and cannot distinguish between the cloak of authority and the cloak of corruption,” Bush wrote. “Domestic relations courts and their surrounding cottage industries are predatory and resemble organized crime—seizing children from fit parents and then selling them back with unnecessary and unwanted ‘services.’ That is none other than child trafficking.”
Bush told the ABA Journal on Friday that the IARDC struck his answer that morning. The IARDC had contended in its motion to strike that Bush could not go beyond affirming or denying the allegations. Bush says he plans to file a motion for reconsideration.
The IARDC “basically wants to scrub this off the internet,” Bush says. He contends that his case is a matter of public interest, and he has a right to assert affirmative defenses in his answer to the ethics complaint.
Bush is glad to see his answer get news coverage in the hopes that it will shine a light on problems in Illinois domestic relations courts.
“Activists are literally popping champagne corks” to see information on his case, he says.
Bush says he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer about four days after he was served with the ethics complaint, and the cost of treatment leaves no money for him to hire a lawyer. He hasn’t seen his children since the diagnosis.
“The only thing I care about is my kids,” he says. “That’s it.”
He is receiving chemotherapy, and his tumors may be operable. But the diagnosis carries a poor prognosis, and Bush feels some urgency to see his children again.
“Just ask Alex Trebek,” Bush says. “The life expectancy isn’t very good.”
Updated Sept. 10 at 12:21 p.m. with Bush’s comments.