ARDC | Rules and Decisions:
A lawyer, Robert Rosenthal, who received a reprimand in Oregon for soliciting a prostitute has received a reciprocal reprimand from the Illinois Supreme Court.
The Petition for Reciprocal Discipline states in part:
“3. On December 24, 2014, the Oregon State Bar Disciplinary Counsel’s Office filed a stipulation for discipline against Respondent in the Supreme Court of Oregon, a copy of which is attached as Exhibit 2, charging him with, inter alia, paying a prostitute to engage in sexual conduct or sexual contact over an extended period of time, and with being convicted of five counts of patronizing a prostitute, in violation of ORS 167.008, a Class A misdemeanor. (Ex. 2, at paras. 5, 6)
4. The stipulation charged that Respondent violated the Rule 8.4(a)(2) of the Oregon Rule of Professional Conduct, which prohibits a lawyer from committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects. (Id., at para. 6) The stipulation listed as mitigation that Respondent had not been disciplined before, that Respondent cooperated with law enforcement and reported his conviction to the Bar, and the fact that Respondent was sentenced to 18 months probation in the related criminal proceeding. (Id., at para. 7(e)) The stipulation listed as aggravation that Respondent engaged in multiple offenses or a pattern of misconduct, that Respondent had substantial experience in the practice of law at the time of his misconduct, and that his misconduct involved a selfish motive. (Id., at para. 7(d)) The stipulation recommended that Respondent receive a public reprimand. (Id., at para. 8, 9).
5. On March 14, 2012, the Oregon Supreme Court entered an Order approving the stipulation between the parties and publicly reprimanding Respondent for violating Rule 8.4(a)(2). A certified copy of the Order of the Oregon Supreme Court is attached as Exhibit 1.”
Comment: there is no issue with the reciprocal discipline. I question whether the ARDC (and perhaps other attorney regulators) are lenient with men who purchase sex from women and extremely harsh with women who find themselves on the wrong side of these encounters. For example, in 2013, Reema Nicki Bajaj was suspended for three years and until further order of court for the following conduct:
“4. Between approximately 2005 and 2008, Respondent placed listings on an online website entitled, “AdultFriendFinder.com” (“Adult Friend Finder”). In the advertisements, she identified herself as “Nikita.”
5. In approximately 2005, Harold Scott Pohl (“Pohl”) contacted Respondent through a listing that Respondent had posted on Adult Friend Finder. After making contact with Respondent, she and Pohl corresponded through emails. In these emails, Respondent offered to perform sexual acts with Pohl for $200 an hour. Between at least 2005 and August 13, 2010, Respondent made approximately 25 appointments to meet with Pohl. On each of those occasions, Pohl paid Respondent $100 in cash for sex acts.
6. In approximately the winter of 2007, Allan Turner (“Turner”) contacted Respondent through a listing that Respondent had posted on Adult Friend Finder. After making
contact with Respondent, she and Turner corresponded through emails. In these emails, Respondent offered to perform various sexual acts with Turner in exchange for money. Between approximately 2007 and January, 2011, on at least 10 to 12 occasions, Respondent made appointments to meet with Turner. On each of those occasions, Turner paid Respondent either in cash, or equivalent store gift cards or DVDs, for sex acts. In addition, in late 2010 or early 2011, in exchange for a sex act, Turner bought Respondent office supplies for her law office, totaling approximately $70.
7. Between April 7, 2011 and May 10, 2011, Respondent and Turner exchanged various emails. In those emails, Respondent offered to perform various sex acts with Turner and Turner’s friend in exchange for money. In the emails, Respondent arranged to meet with Turner and his friend at Turner’s home on Thursday, May 12, 2011, for the purpose of performing sex acts in exchange for money. On Wednesday, May 11, 2011, Respondent was questioned by the DeKalb County Police and the emails between Respondent and Turner were viewed by the investigating officers. Respondent did not appear for the scheduled meeting with Turner and his friend on May 12, 2011.
8. On May 31, 2011, the Office of the DeKalb County State’s Attorney filed a three-count complaint charging Respondent with prostitution, in violation of 720 ILCS 5/11-14(a).
9. On June 20, 2012, the State agreed to nolle prosse counts one and three of the complaint and Respondent pled guilty to count two, a class A misdemeanor charge of prostitution. The parties stipulated to the factual basis for the charge. Count Two of the complaint set forth the following allegations against Respondent:
on or about August 13, 2010, Respondent committed the offense of prostitution, in violation of Act 5, Section 11-14(a), Chapter 720, Illinois Compiled Statutes, in that she did knowingly agree with Harold S. Pohl to perform an act
of sexual penetration, sexual intercourse, for money, $100 United States Currency, said offense being a class A misdemeanor.
10. On June 20, 2012, the Honorable Robbin Stuckert accepted Respondent’s plea of guilt and the State’s recommended sentence. Judge Stuckert entered a judgment on the Respondent’s guilty plea and sentenced Respondent to a term of two years of court supervision, ordered Respondent to perform 50 hours of community service, pay fines and costs totaling $2,500, obtain a psychological evaluation, comply with all treatment recommendations, and obtain HIV STD testing.”
There was an aggravating factor in that Ms. Bajaj had made false statements on her bar application concerning the sexual misconduct and whether or not she had used another name. Under the ARDC’s view the use of an online alias was sufficient to be a false statement on Ms. Bajaj’s bar application.
In sum, I don’t have a problem with the reciprocal discipline but I do have a problem with the enormous disparity between the punishment between the two respondents where the male lawyer received a slap on the wrist and the female lawyer was harshly punished. The disparity in punishment is unjustifiable.
Edward X. Clinton, Jr.
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