Legal Ethics

Lawyer gets suspension for blog posts about 'feeding frenzy' of connected lawyers

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Updated: An Illinois lawyer who blogged about a probate case has been suspended because of her posts alleging a “feeding frenzy” of court-connected lawyers in Chicago’s “sleazy world of probate.”

The lawyer, JoAnne Marie Denison, was suspended for three years, and until further order of the Illinois Supreme Court, the Legal Profession Blog reports. The Sept. 21 suspension follows a May decision in which a review board of the Illinois Registration and Disciplinary Commission rejected Denison’s First Amendment arguments.

Denison had contended her blog posts were true, but the review board cited findings that she had failed to present an objective factual basis to support her allegations. Denison’s posts had impugned the integrity of judges and lawyers involved in a particular probate proceeding, the review board said.

Denison’s blog had alleged a guardian was appointed for an elderly woman though she did not need one, and that the guardian had stolen from the woman and did not take proper care of her. The blog posts referenced a “feeding frenzy” of lawyers, a “classic case of corruption” and a court “being spoonfed BS law by atty miscreants.”

Circuit courts in Cook County aren’t computerized, Denison alleged in her posts, because “politically connected judges and their puppet attorneys … would be exposed for what they are: money grubbing, family strife churning leeches that create nothing but pain and misery in a family while swiping free parking money out of a well funded estate.”

In an email to the ABA Journal, Denison criticized both the ABA and the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, and alleged a cover-up of corruption that “does Chicago lawyers and the Cook County Court system no favors.”

Updated on Sept. 27 to add a comment from Denison.

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