Legal Ethics

Lawyer's blog posts about 'sleazy world of probate' bring ethics complaint

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Corrected: A patent and trademark lawyer who blogged about alleged corruption in Chicago’s “sleazy world of probate” is facing an ethics complaint that accuses her of undermining the administration of justice.

Chicago lawyer Joanne Denison is accused of knowing that her statements were false or made in reckless disregard of the truth, the National Law Journal reports. The Legal Profession Blog links to the complaint.

Denison began blogging after a judge refused her application to represent a client who was seeking appointment as guardian for her mother. The client’s sister was later appointed guardian.

The court had disqualified Denison because she had notarized signatures for the client and the client’s mother on a document giving the client her mother’s interest in a lawsuit. The court had found that the mother may have been suffering from dementia at the time, the ethics complaint said.

According to the complaint, Denison’s blog posts had claimed impropriety and financial exploitation in the case. Among other things, her blog claimed “garden variety theft, embezzlement, malpractice and malfeasance by attorneys and the court.”

Denison had published a disclaimer. “Sorry, but portions of this blog have to be entertaining so we can get the word out,” she wrote. “There is most certainly a great deal of (stinging) truth in it.”

Denison told the NLJ she has no plans to take down her blog. “Why would I shut up when there’s corruption going on in the courts?” she said.

Corrected on Feb. 5 to say Denison has no plans to take down her blog.

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