If all goes as expected, Rod Blagojevich’s already-minimal legal career will come to a quiet end following an administrative hearing Tuesday morning.
The hearing, at the offices of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Hearing, is designed to hear evidence on whether Blagojevich should be disbarred for his conviction on corruption charges in federal court. He is not expected to attend.
“The primary purpose of attorney disciplinary proceedings is to protect the public from unqualified or unethical practitioners,” the agency said in a pre-court filing.
It is their argument that the former governor’s crimes more than fit that bill.
In a petition outlining the charges, the ARDC said the former governor had engaged in misconduct by “committing criminal acts that reflect adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer,” and that he had engaged in conduct involving “dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation,” in the crimes for which he was convicted.
During pre-trial hearings, the former governor’s attorney Sheldon Sorosky indicated there would be no effort to contest the charges.
“We would agree that he was convicted of those offenses,” Sorosky said during a hearing last September. “And because he was convicted of those offenses, we would consent to disbarment.”
But Sorosky said Monday that offer was not accepted, the ARDC wanting more than an acknowledgement of the evidence, but an actual admission of guilt—something the former governor was not prepared to offer.
During the proceedings, attorneys for the ARDC had planned to take Blagojevich’s deposition in prison February 3rd. But in a hearing last week, it was revealed that didn’t happen.
“He unequivocally, through his counsel, indicated he would neither be deposed nor would he provide any testimony if allowed at the hearing,” said ARDC attorney Sharon Opryszek, who appeared on behalf of the agency’s administrator. “With that, I think he’s chosen not to involve himself.”
Truth be known, Blagojevich never billed himself as much of an attorney. He frequently regaled audiences with self-deprecating stories of how he needed two tries to pass the Illinois bar exam. And the former governor’s legal experience was minimal, including brief stints in the law office of former alderman Edward Vrdolyak, and as an assistant Cook County State’s Attorney.
Sorosky said he did not expect to offer a defense. The hearing panel will issue a report following Tuesday’s proceedings. Final action on the former governor’s law license is up to the Illinois Supreme Court.