ARDC files complaint against Verett for making false statements to Missouri judge

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 20, 2008, 12:17am

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) filed a two-count complaint against Edwardsville attorney Amanda Verett alleging she engaged in conduct that "tends to...bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute."

ARDC Administrator Jerome Larkin filed the charges Feb. 6 through his attorney Denise Church, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753.

According to the complaint, Verett used false pleadings during an emergency ex-parte hearing before a St. Louis city judge on March 14, 2007. The hearing took place later the same day that a Madison County judge had denied Verett's pleadings for the same client.

In May 2004, a client Verett would later represent, Christopher Nolan, filed for divorce from Tanna Nolan in Madison County.

Temporary custody of their son was awarded to Tanna Nolan after a Feb. 3, 2005 hearing.

Disputes over their son's medical care led Tanna Nolan to file a motion for permanent injunction that would bar Christopher Nolan from contacting his son's medical providers.

On May 31, 2006, a Madison County judge ordered that Tanna Nolan had sole authority over the child's medical care. The order also held that if any physician withdrew or refused to treat the child following contact with Christopher Nolan, the court would issue a permanent injunction.

On Nov. 1, 2006, Christopher Nolan filed an emergency petition for injunctive relief in order to keep Tanna Nolan from taking the child for a tonsillectomy scheduled in 13 days, but withdrew his request a week later and decided to call his son's doctor instead. That prompted Tanna Nolan to ask for a permanent injunction, which was later granted.

Christopher Nolan hired Verett after he learned a tonsillectomy had been scheduled for the child on March 19, 2007, at Children's Hospital in St. Louis.

Verett filed a motion to stay the enforcement of the injunction, but the motion was denied on March 14, 2007, after a hearing with the Nolans, their counsel and Cooper's guardian ad litem.

Later that day, Verett filed a petition in the city of St. Louis seeking monetary damages against the medical providers who were scheduled to perform the tonsillectomy on the child.

She also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, an affidavit in support of and supporting memorandum and personally presented the motion to St. Louis Circuit Judge John Garvey on an emergency ex parte basis.

"At no time on March 14, 2007 did Respondent (Verett) inform Judge Garvey, orally or in her pleadings, that she had unsuccessfully sought the same relief - delaying the tonsillectomy -- earlier that day," the ARDC complaint states.

"Respondent did not disclose that the Illinois court had granted Tanna sole decision-making authority for (the child's) medical care, and that Christopher had been permanently enjoined from interfering with (the child's) medical care," it also states.

According to the complaint, Garvey asked Verett if she had taken any steps to stop the surgery in Illinois, and she told him "no" even though she knew that the statement was false.

Garvey entered an order setting the matter for further hearing on March 16, 2007, however, he accidentally wrote in his order that the next hearing was on March 17, 2007 -- a Saturday.

On the day of the hearing, Verett filed a second memorandum stating "The father has no other means for relief, Madison County refused to entertain a motion to delay the surgery."

The March 16 hearing took place but no attorneys appeared for the medical providers, as the attorneys representing a hospital were unaware that the hearing was actually being held on March 16, 2007, and not March 17, 2007 as written in Garvey's order.

Garvey entered an order enjoining doctors from performing the tonsillectomy scheduled for March 19, 2007, and also appointed a guardian ad litem and ordered Verett to add Tanna Nolan as a party to the case.

Four days later, Tanna Nolan filed a motion to dismiss which caused Verett to withdraw the complaint.

Garvey apologized to Tanna Nolan and the child's doctors stating that he would not have enjoined the surgery had he been aware that the Madison County court had heard the same request, and denied it, on March 14, 2007.

The ARDC also alleges that Verett made false statements in connection with a disciplinary matter.

According to the ARDC, on Aug. 3, 2007, Verett told ARDC investigators that she informed Garvey that she tried to get the injunction stayed or altered earlier in the day in Madison County and argued that her motions were just "poorly written."

The ARDC claims Verett engaged in the following misconduct:

  • Making a statement of material fact or law to a tribunal which the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is false, in violation of Rule 3.3(a)(1) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  • In an ex parte hearing, failing to inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer which will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse, in violation of Rule 3.3(d) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  • Conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  • Filing a suit, asserting a position, conducting a defense, delaying a trial, or taking other action on behalf of the client when the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another, in violation of Rule 1.2(f)(1) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  • Conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(5) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  • Conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or bring the courts of the legal profession into disrepute in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770; and

  • Making a statement of material fact known by the lawyer to be false in connection with a lawyer disciplinary matter in violation of Rule 8.1(a)(1) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.

    The ARDC asks that Verett's case be assigned to a panel of the Hearing Board, that a hearing be held, and that the panel make findings of fact, conclusions of fact and law, and a recommendation for such discipline as is warranted.

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