How to avoid disbarment? Disbar yourself!

Posted: January 15, 2014 by SJD in Not so serious, Prenda
Tags: , ,

According to the Illinois Attorney’s Registration and Disciplinary Record, an infamous copyright troll John Steele is not authorized to practice law in Illinois. Voluntarily inactive:

 

It’s quite a radical way to avoid disbarment. Will John incarcerate himself to avoid jail?

 

 

On a serious note: inactive status does not actually mean “auto-disbarment”: if an attorney does not want to pay Bar fees, he can voluntarily temporarily suspend himself. And it is perfectly normal… unless motives are questionable… oh, well.

Here is the rule:

Lawyers who register as inactive must pay an annual fee of $105.00. Inactive status lawyers may not practice law based upon their Illinois license or hold themselves out as being so authorized. An inactive lawyer may resume active status by submitting written or online notification of the intent to do so, and by paying the balance of the fee active lawyers must pay for the registration year in which active status is resumed. Inactive lawyers are also subject to a $25.00 per month late fee if registering late.

So in theory he can reinstate himself by simply paying the outstanding balance and clicking a button. Yet in light of the current investigation, it is not likely John will be practicing in Illinois again (or anywhere else, because Illinois is the only state where he is licensed). It is clear that this is not about saving on fees. If I had to guess I’d say that’s why he did it: to be able to say “You can’t sanction me! I’m not a practicing attorney anymore!” Won’t fly, of course.

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Comments
  1. Dark Moe says:

    I’m shocked.

  2. Nottadoe says:

    Another fine example of Steele outsmarting the courts and the Feds. I’m sure they will leave him alone now that he has disbarred himself. Steele wins again! What a genius!

  3. Correction man says:

    Correction. If I read this correctly, he pays $105 to be listed as inactive. To go to active status he has to pay the full “active” fee minus $105.

  4. Inactive attorneys can be disbarred.

    See, e.g., In the Matter of:
    EDWARD L. PARKS,

    Attorney-Respondent,

    No. 02145723.

    Supreme Court No. M.R. 14660

    Commission No. 98 RC 1505
    March 23, 1998

    • Chicago Attorney says:

      I think you’re reading a little too much into it. He likely just didn’t want to pay the registration fee, and maybe has decided to never step foot in Illinois again.

      As noted above, you can still be disbarred or disciplined as an inactive attorney. It may influence the board’s decision if they determine that the attorney is not seeking to continue to practice law. That would be decided, however, after they decide to go forward with a charge and the attorney in question appears.

      Btw, any info on whether the ARDC has decided to go forward with a disciplinary charge? I’d be more worried about AUSAs bringing RICO charges, Section 1920 sanctions (especially doled out by cantankerous Fed. judges outside of NDIL– there’s a reason NDIL was the trolls’ playground), judgments and citations to discover assets than an ARDC beef if I was Mr. Steele.

  5. +1 on what everyone else said. Jay, good to see you still interested in these cases. :)

  6. atouk says:

    Can we pass the hat and pay it for him? It would be worth it just so they can go ahead with the formalities…

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