Lawyer who went for ambulance joyride, former BigLaw partner among those disciplined in Illinois

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Among the attorneys disciplined by the Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday are a lawyer who led police on a 60-mile chase in an ambulance and a former Polsinelli shareholder who was temporarily barred from a courthouse. (Image from Shutterstock)

Updated: Among the attorneys disciplined by the Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday are a lawyer who led police on a 60-mile chase in an ambulance and a former Polsinelli shareholder who was temporarily barred from a courthouse.

Lawyer Benjamin Kesler Herrington, described as a Chicago man in news coverage, was sentenced to 180 days in jail for the April 2022 ambulance incident after pleading guilty to a charge of criminal trespass to a vehicle, according to a July 2023 story by WSPY News. He was also ordered to pay about $7,800 in restitution, according to a statement of charges by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

Herrington told the court that he had been sober for about 14 months.

Herrington had sought disbarment, even though the IARDC had advised him that his conduct might not require that sanction because it may have been due to a temporary medical condition, intoxication or some other factor.

According to the IARDC statement of charges, Herrington “took possession” of a parked Chicago Fire Department ambulance and drove it for 60 miles to Grundy County, Illinois. He was at first pursued by Chicago police and then by the Illinois State Police.

Herrington drove over spike strips placed on the road by police but continued to drive on tire rims, “causing damage to the ambulance,” according to the statement of charges. He finally stopped and was arrested.

Herrington emailed a statement to the ABA Journal.

“Following the events of the past few years, it became abundantly clear to me that continuing to practice law was no longer in my best interests. I am grateful that the Supreme Court of Illinois granted my voluntarily made Rule 762(a) motion to strike my name from the master roll of Illinois attorneys.

“I am also grateful, daily, to be alive, healthy and on the road to recovery from the significant injuries I suffered in connection with my arrest and during my time in jail.

“I am as well incredibly grateful to have discovered a passion for writing and the arts. In addition to having several poems and short stories recently published in U.S., U.K., Canadian and European literary journals, I am presently working on a novelization of the events of the past few years.”

Herrington also thanked his family, friends and peers for their “patience, kindness and encouragement” as he transitions careers and works through “pending legal matters respecting my arrest and otherwise.”

Other disciplined attorneys included:

  • George Jackson III, a former Polsinelli shareholder, was suspended for three years and until further order of the Illinois Supreme Court. While defending his brother on a murder charge in a retrial, Jackson made unfounded attacks on the judiciary, made derogatory comments about opposing counsel, and made remarks showing hostility to Jewish people, according to a hearing board report. He was held in contempt four times. Prosecutors in Cook County, Illinois, obtained an order barring Jackson from the criminal courthouse, which was later modified to allow him entrance if accompanied by sheriff’s deputies.

Jackson told the Journal that he can’t comment on the suspension, but he wanted to make some remarks “for public awareness.”

Jackson says one accusation of criminal contempt alleged that he was late for court—but a trial activity log indicated that there was only one judge and one trial that day because only one courtroom was set up for COVID-19 protocols.

Jackson also criticized a different judge for discussing DNA evidence with a prosecutor in his chambers and the Illinois Supreme Court for rejecting his speedy-trial motion and then using his language in a later order. And he says he was improperly served when he was banned from the courthouse, and he was unjustly held in contempt when he responded in kind to an accusation of being antisemitic.

“We have to be able to rely on the integrity of the judicial system,” Jackson says.

  • Andrew Douglas Purcell, who was disbarred as a result of reciprocal discipline. Purcell had been disbarred in Missouri after he ran for a county board in Illinois at the same time that he was a city council member in Missouri. He remained a city council member, even though he had moved, according to the Missouri chief disciplinary counsel. He was convicted of a misdemeanor for continuing to collect a salary when he was ineligible for the Missouri office because he no longer lived there.

Purcell did not respond to Journal interview requests when it published a previous article about the ethics case.

Updated Jan. 22 at 1:55 p.m. to include Benjamin Kesler Herrington’s statement.

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