Thomas Lakin gives up law license

Ann Knef Aug. 14, 2006, 7:47am

Tom Lakin

Once the most powerful lawyer in southern Illinois, Lowell Thomas Lakin has voluntarily given up his license to practice law in Illinois.

According to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, the veteran plaintiff's attorney who established the Lakin Law Firm cannot practice law in Illinois.

Lakin, who was licensed on Oct. 6, 1970, went on inactive status March 20, said ARDC spokesman James Grogan. The ARDC investigates and prosecutes misconduct complaints and maintains registration and discipline information for lawyers licensed to practice in Illinois.

Lakin, 66, is facing a civil sexual abuse lawsuit in which he is accused of having sex with a 15-year-old boy, among other things. His sons Bradley Lakin and Kristopher Lakin are accused of covering up the abuse.

The case was originally filed in Madison County, withdrawn and refiled in St. Clair County in June. In the meantime, Bradley Lakin and Kristopher Lakin filed a counter-suit alleging their accusers schemed to extort $50 million.

Grogan said that an attorney on inactive status is not immune from investigation by the ARDC.

He said there are two ways to leave the practice of law, by retiring or going on inactive status.

An attorney on inactive status pays less than half ($90) the annual ARDC registration fee ($239), but may return to active status upon request.

A retired attorney, who pays no annual registration fee, must pay all past due fees if he or she decides to come out of retirement.

In June, a special prosecutor was named to handle a potential criminal sexual assault case against Thomas Lakin in Madison County.

Former Morgan County State's Attorney Charles Coburn, one of five special prosecutors from the Illinois Attorney Appellate Prosecutor's Agecy, was appointed after Madison County State's Attorney Bill Mudge requested outside assistance.

Mudge asked for help because of a perceived a conflict of interest if charges were to be brought against Thomas Lakin. His former law firm represented Lakin in the past.

A federal grand jury, which completed its service in July, heard testimony from the U.S. Attorney's Office regarding allegations against Lakin.

According to the ARDC website, Thomas Lakin was charged in 1984 with violating the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility for his involvement in running an anti-retention campaign against two Third Circuit judges seeking retention: John DeLaurenti of Madison County and Victor Mosele of Bond County.

Needing 60 percent of the vote to be retained, DeLaurenti lost with 59 percent and Mosele lost with 54 percent.

DeLaurenti went on to win a circuit judge election in 1982.

The complaint against Lakin was dismissed in 1988.

According to the complaint, Lakin engaged in "conduct through a political committee that allegedly distributed false statements concerning two judges who are judges of the third judicial circuit and who were, as of August 1980, candidates for retention in office at the November 4, 1980, election. One of the judges was assigned to hear matters in Madison County and the other to matters in Bond County. It was charged that through the respondents a committee had been formed to oppose the retention of the two judges."

The two-count complaint filed April 6, 1984, also charged William Starnes Beatty, Morris B. Chapman, John Gordon Carlson, William Wallace Schooley, Jr., and Leon G. Scroggins, with violating the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility.

According to the second count of the complaint, "Chapman and Carlson hired an investigator to conduct a surveillance of an appellate court judge before whom they had appeals pending and that they sent the confidential report of the surveillance to the administrator of the Illinois courts."

In July 2005, Thomas Lakin was barred from practicing law in West Virginia for a year for improperly solicited another lawyer's clients.

West Virginia Court of Appeals Justice Larry Starcher stated in a dissent that the court should have gone further by also barring the Lakin Law Firm from practicing in West Virginia.

"When Governor Joe Manchin said 'West Virginia's Open for Business, I do not think he meant that out-of-state lawyers were free to come into West Virginia and attempt to steal the clients of our State lawyers while violating our Rules of Professional Conduct," Starcher wrote.

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