2-year suspension recommended for lawyer over 'aggressive tactics and relentless vindictiveness'

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Chicago lawyer Joel Brodsky, best known for representing an Illinois police officer convicted of murdering one of his ex-wives, should be suspended for two years for misconduct, the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission said Tuesday.

In its ruling, the state disciplinary panel commented on evidence of Brodsky’s “aggressive tactics and relentless vindictiveness” in several cases and said “that mindset, combined with his demonstrated pattern of behavior, his failure to recognize the wrongfulness of much of his misconduct and his lack of sincere remorse, leaves us skeptical that he will change his tactics.”

The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times have coverage.

Brodsky formerly represented Drew Peterson, who was convicted of murdering his third wife in September 2012. Peterson later claimed ineffective assistance of counsel by Brodsky, alleging his lack of experience in murder trials resulted “in hornbook errors and a smorgasbord of ethical violations.”

The disciplinary proceedings against Brodsky began in 2018, when the state disciplinary panel filed a complaint over three cases that involved potential misconduct.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the complaint alleged that Brodsky sent several inappropriate emails and letters to other attorneys, calling one “an embarrassment to the profession” and saying another appeared to be “learning disabled” and had a drinking problem.

The Chicago Sun-Times also reports that the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission affirmed other charges against Brodsky, including that he accused another attorney of extortion.

In 2018, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall ordered Brodsky to pay a $50,000 sanction and attend anger management training as a result of his behavior in a lawsuit against his auto-dealer client in a lemon law case. Kendall said he made false accusations, engaged in “inappropriate diatribes,” made an “unhinged attack” on an expert witness on odometers, and filed “a number of baseless or unnecessary motions.”

Kendall also said she would refer Brodsky to the ethics committee of the Northern District of Illinois for consideration of being barred or suspended from practice in the district.

Brodsky was stripped of his law license on an interim basis in June 2019, and if affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court, the state disciplinary panel’s recommended two-year suspension would begin retroactive to that date.

The panel noted that he was suspended for three months in 2004 after mishandling $23,000 of client funds, and even though those actions differ from his present misconduct, “the earlier case confirms our opinion that respondent will not hesitate to use improper means to achieve a result which he misguidedly believes is justified.”

“The fear that respondent will engage in future misconduct and thereby place the public at risk is reason for the suspension to continue until further order,” the panel added.

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