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Ethics Complaint Filed Against Attorney Who Couldn't Prove Illness

By Betty Wang, JD on September 26, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Illinois Registration and Disciplinary Commission has filed an ethics complaint against an Illinois lawyer who they claimed faked an illness to avoid oral arguments.

The complaint alleges that Finn agreed to represent a client, Kenneth Clark, in an appeal of his criminal conviction for possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute. Clark was sentenced to 240 months, and paid $15,000 for Finn's representation in his appeal.

But Finn never made it to his client's scheduled oral argument. He phoned the clerk's office, claiming that he was feeling ill and wasn't well enough to make it to court. He also stated that he had vomited earlier in the morning.

No Vomit, No Proof

The clerk's office then told Finn to keep his phone turned on in case the court was going to require his appearance for oral argument anyway. Lo and behold, the court did call Finn to notify him that his appearance was mandatory. Finn, however, never picked up his phone, nor did he return any messages left for him by the court.

The complaint is now alleging that Finn's statements claiming illness and an incident of vomiting were false. They claim he did not come in merely because he was unprepared for the oral arguments.

Those arguments were then held without Finn, and Finn's client lost the appeal. Afterwards, in an order to show cause, the court requested that Finn supply medical documentation of his illness, which he didn't. The court then fined him $1,000.

Lesson Learned

Let's be honest, now: We've all faked a sick day at least once in our lives, right? From school to work, to everything in between, the possibilities are endless for the number of occasions that one would like to opt out of... and sometimes actually do, by creating a less-than-legitimate reason.

But what if Finn wasn't fibbing at all? We're also all well aware of the unfortunate phenomenon that is the 24-hour bug, or even food poisoning. Or, just any type of illness that is so debilitating that maybe bedrest is all that's on our minds. This is essentially what Finn claims occurred, according to the ABA.

The unfortunate lesson here is that, when it comes to this profession, a paper trail (after you've cleaned up your alleged vomit trail), is necessary.

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