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11L 1348 Calendar S Judge Raymond W. Mitchell


Memorandum OPinion and Order The caseis before the Court following a routine casemanagementconference where the parties appearedthrough counsel. Counsel'sreport on the status of the in this matter: a caseincluded what has becomean all too frequent occurrence recitation of an egtegiouspattern of inappropriate behavior and misconductby both Plaintiffs' and D efendants' re spective counsel. To date, the Court has taken a seriesof progressivesteps to curb counsel's deplorablebehavior in the hope that these two attorneys would conform their conductto the requirements of our profession. These measureshave included schedulingthe casefor times when the courtroom would be empty, increasing the visibility & court security (at times as many as four deputy sheriffs have had to be presentj, holding depositionsin the courtroom attended by court security, and repeatedadmonitions from the Court on the risk of provoking a direct criminal contemptand a referral to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, and a rlminder that a lawyer owes a fiduciary duty to his client. All these words and actionshave proved unavailing: the attorneys' bad behavior persists. In order to protect the judicial process,court personneland the parties of Plaintiffs' attorney Joel Brodsky and Defendant's the appearances themselves, attorney Michael Meschino are stricken. For the following reasons,Mr. Brodsky - a ruling to which and Mr. Meschino are disqualified from these proceedings neither attorney objects. I. The following is a summary of some (but not all) of the bad behavior and misconductthat has been perpetrated by the attorneys in this caseas observedby the Court, recountedby court personnelor reported by counselthemselves. In mid-

2012,after outbursts in open court by both Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Meschino,the Court immediately admonishedthe attorneys that their behavior was unacceptable and would not be tolerated. On a subsequentoccasion, the Court endeda case prematurely because managementconference counselcould not conform their behaviorto even the most basic requirements. The Court again admonishedMr. Brodsky and Mr. Meschino that their behavior was disruptive and inappropriate. A sheriffs deputy escortedMr. Meschinofrom the courtroom. From that time to the present,the Court has requestedthe presenceofadditional courtroom security wheneverthese lawyers are scheduledto appear. Despite the presenceof additional sheriffs deputies in the courtroom,on January 28, 2013,after the Court recessed and the judge left the bench,Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Meschino exchangeda variety of insults and deputies again escorted Mr. Meschinofrom the courtroom. Mr. Brodsky by motion brought this to the Court's attention. When the motion was presented,each attorney admitted to his role in the exchange. At that time, the Court warned Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Meschinothat this courseof conduct was grounds for disqualifying them for the case. The attorneys were instructed to considerthe interests of their clients and their fiduciary duties. The attorneyswere also warned that Court could exerciseits contempt power and could report their conduct to the ARDC. Both attorneys assured the Court that they would proceedin professionalmanner and they could work together as they preparedfor trial. Despite all of the admonitions and the repeatedattempts to dissuadethe attorneys from engaging in further misconduct, these attorneys have, to this day, continuedto act wholly improperly. These attorneys have proved impervious to reasonand to a show offorce. The presence ofadditional courtroom deputieshas done nothing to curb their bad behavior. Indeed, not only has the required presence of additional security personnelproved unsuccessful in dissuadingthe egregious conductof Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Meschino,the idea of diverting security personnel from other areas of the courthouseto deal with attorneys on a repeatedbasis is completelyunacceptable. The attorneys have also acted wholly improperly in conductingdiscovery including exchangingthreatening and insulting voicemailsand emails. In reviewing the various motions to compeland motions for sanctionsfiled in this case, it is abundantly clear that Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Meschino are incapableof any form of cooperation.The animus betweenthe lawyers is so great that the depositionsof their clients had to be conductedin the courtroom with court security present throughout. The depositions,while just a sample,demonstratedthe completelack of civility that has characterizedthe attorneys'conductthroughout this case. The depositionwas witnessed by sheriffs deputiesand court personneland was

transcribedby a court reporter. The transcript is laden with personal attacks, insults and threats. his share All of this was bad enough,but now Mr. Brodsky has compounded of what was at best "bad behavior" by outright attorney misconductwhen he sent two exparfe letters to the Chief Judge referencingthis caseand seekingjudicial action in favor of Mr. Brodsky's clients. SeeIll. Sup. Ct. R. Profl Conduct,R 3.5(b); seealso,Ill. Sup. Ct. R. Prof,l Conduct,R 3.5 cmt.2. Neither letter was copiedto opposingcounsel(or this Court). Administrative personneldeliveredthese letters to this Court. At no time has this Court had any communicationwith the Chief Judge about this or any other pending case. When confrontedin open court, Mr. Brodsky confirmed that he authored the letters. The letters are attachedin an appendixto this opinion, and are made part of the record in this case.r II. In light of this outrageousbehavior by each attorney, the Court is striking the appearances of Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Meschinoand disqualiS'ing them from proceedings. these This decisionis not made lightly, but is made after careful to protect the administration of justice and deliberationand found to be necessary the parties' right to a fair trial. The Court is particularly mindful of the importance of the right to counsel, including the right to counsel of one's choosing. However, this right is not absolute. SeePeopleu. Troutt,l72IIl. App. 3d 668 (holding that, even in a criminal case,the right to counsel of one's choosing is not unlimited); In re Estate of Wright,377 IIl. App. 3d 800, 808-09 (affirming the disqualification of an attorney for conflict of interest). In this case,the Plaintiffs' and Defendants'rights to be representedby these counselmust yield to important institutional considerations. It is not just that Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Meschino do not like each other - they literally cannot stand to be in each other's presence. For the goodof their clients and for the sake of maintaining an orderly process,these attorneys must be disqualified from this case. A trial judge has the inherent authority to maintain decorum and to require the civility of parties to the caseand their attorneys. Peopleu. Dauilla, 236Ill. App. 3d 367,380 (1stDist. 1992). Indeed,inthe Codeof Judicial Conduct,the Illinois SupremeCourt has placed an affirmative duty on judges in this state to maintain beforethem. Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 63(3)(AX2). Further, order and decorumin proceedings the Illinois Attorney Act provides that "any judge of a Circuit Court shall . . . have power to suspendany attorney or counselorat law from practice in the court over which he presides, during such time as he may deemproper...." 705ILCS 20516. t This is not the first time Mr. Brodsky has run afoul of the Rules of 0I CH 42 (three-month suspension). Professional Conduct. SeeIn re Joel Brodsley,

While a trial court cannot properly bar an attorney from appearing in all cases beforethe court, In re General Order of March 75, 7993,258 Ill. App. 3d 13, 2I'22 (lst Dist. 1994),a trial court has the authority to disquatify a lawyer on an individualized basis in a specificcase,Burnette v. Terrell,232IlI.2d 522 (2009). By striking the appearances of Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Meschino,this Court is not seekingto "discipline" counselor to regulate the legal profession. Rather, the Court is endeavoring to fulfill is its fundamental obligation to protect the judicial process, the court'spersonneland the parties'right to a fair trial. Significantly, after again being advisedof this litany of bad conduct in open court today, neither Mr. Brodsky or Mr. Meschinoraised an objectionto disqualification in this case.

III. For the forgoing reasons,it is hereby ORDERED: the (1) In light of a pattern of persistentand repeatedmisconduct, of Plaintiffs' attorney Joel Brodsky and Defendants' appearances attorney Michael Meschino are stricken. Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Meschino are disqualified from these proceedings. (2) Mr. Brodsky's exparte letters are attached in an appendix and made part of the court record. (3) Plaintiffs and Defendantshave 21 days, until May 16, 2013,to retain new counsel. (4) Defendantsare granted Ieaveto file their amended answer instanter. (5) The trial date of June 3,2013 at 10:30a.m. is stricken. (6) The caseis continued to May 23,2013 at 10:30a.m. for a case managementconference. (?) A copy of this Memorandum Opinion and Order shall be transmitted to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

W.Mitchell Raymond Judge

Judge Raymond W. Mi