A Chicago attorney is in hot water over comments she made on her blog. The posts included allegations of corruption in the probate court of Cook County, particularly in relation to a case in which she was disqualified.
While many lawyers and law firms now have blogs, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) believes Joanne Denison has gone too far. She is now facing a disciplinary complaint.
The blog, marygsykes.com, plainly states that it is an “attorney blog concerning corruption and greed in the Probate Court of Cook County.” One excerpt from the blog reads:
Sorry, but portions of this blog have to be entertaining so we can get the word out. There is most certainly a great deal of (stinging) truth in it, esp. for the GAL’s (sic), the probate court and a society that ignores (thereby condoning) the sleazy World of probate, and in particular the 18th floor of the Daley Center Motion, Response and Reply set by any court, together with extended legal argument recorded by a court reporter and subject to a Motion to Reconsider if errors or new evidence is found.
In its complaint, the ARDC alleges that Denison violated a number of Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. They include “making a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory officer or public legal office,” and “conduct, which tends to defeat the administration of justice or bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.”
As this ethics complaint highlights, lawyers who blog about controversial subjects should tread carefully, particularly when writing about the court system. Should you be unable to substantiate your allegations with facts, the same system could impose serious penalties.