A panel of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission’s (ARDC) Review Board has recommended a six month suspension for a retired judge accused of improperly dismissing a traffic ticket issued to the daughter of another judge.
The board made the recommendation in a report filed Wednesday in the disciplinary case against Robert T. Hall, who retired from his position as a Sangamon County associate judge earlier than expected and shortly after the alleged ticket-fixing incident was exposed.
After it was discovered the prosecutor’s office never moved for the dismissal, Hall vacated his order and recused himself from the case at the direction of the circuit’s chief judge.
In December 2011, the ARDC lodged a complaint against Hall that accused him of making misrepresentations in dismissing the 2010 traffic citation that was issued to the teenaged daughter of Sangamon County Associate Judge Christopher Perrin.
A panel of ARDC Hearing Board in January 2013 recommended that Hall be suspended for six months based on his misconduct. The administrator of the ARDC, however, challenged that recommendation.
Before a panel of the Review Board, the ARDC argued that a two-year suspension was warranted while Hall claimed, among other things, that the Hearing Board’s findings were against the manifest weight of the evidence because he lacked the intent to be dishonest, fraudulent or deceitful.
The Review Board rejected Hall's arguments, saying that the evidence shows he admitted his conduct was dishonest in his answer to the ARDC complaint.
“We find that the evidence clearly and convincingly established that [Hall] engaged in dishonesty, deceit, and misrepresentation,” the Review Board states in its report. “It is unmistakably clear that [Hall] knowingly and intentionally made a false representation that the State's Attorney's office had filed a motion to dismiss the traffic ticket for insufficient evidence.”
Like the Hearing Board, the Review Board determined that “a six month suspension will serve the purposes of the disciplinary process – as [Hall] breached the ethical standards applicable to him as a lawyer and a judge, and that breach compromised the fairness and impartiality of the tribunal.”
The Review Board panel that reviewed Hall’s case was made up of attorneys Johnny A. Fairman II and Claire A. Manning, as well as Benedict Schwarz II, a non-lawyer member of the board.
The board's recommendation will go the Illinois Supreme Court, which has the final say in the disciplining attorneys. Hall and the ARDC have about a month to file petitions for high court review if either party choses to do so.