Ethics corner: Recent censure of a public sector lawyer
On January 13, 2006, the Illinois Supreme Court censured Justin T. Fitzsimmons for professional misconduct committed during the course of his employment as an assistant state’s attorney in DuPage County. While he was so employed, the state’s attorney had in place a policy regarding the ethics and conduct of his assistants; the policy provided, in part, that every employee of the office was to “refrain from misusing one’s job or knowledge gained from that job for personal profit or gain or for the gain of one’s family or friends.” Fitzsimmons was aware of this policy.
In December 2003, Fitzsimmons was contacted by a friend who had formerly been his colleague at the state’s attorney’s office and who had entered private practice. The friend’s new employer had recently received a traffic citation and had asked his new associate to represent him in connection with the citation. Fitzsimmons agreed to look into the matter.
As a favor to his friend, Fitzsimmons contacted the assistant state’s attorney, Arnel Delosreyes, who was handling the traffic citation, and asked that the citation be dismissed, without stating a reason for the request. Under the policy of the state’s attorney’s office, it was permissible for such a request to be made in connection with a plea agreement in another case, and Fitzsimmons assumed that Delosreyes would believe his request to have been made for this reason. In fact, when Delosreyes moved to nolle pros the citation, he represented to the court that his motion was being made on the basis of a plea agreement in another matter. When the state’s attorney’s office learned the reason for dismissing the citation, Fitzsimmons was permitted to resign his employment, and the traffic matter was reinstated in the circuit court.