ARDC recommends Verett be suspended 90 days

Steve Gonzalez Aug. 22, 2008, 6:00am

SPRINGFIELD-If the Illinois Supreme Court accepts the recommendation of the state's legal watchdog, Edwardsville attorney Amanda Verett will face a 90 day suspension of her law license.

Verett has been charged with, among other things, making a statement of fact or law that she knew or reasonably should have know was false and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

In its recommendation, the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission said Verett should be suspended from practicing law for 90 days and be required to attend a course on professional ethics.

"After considering the nature of Respondent's misconduct, the overall facts and circumstances shown by the evidence, the cases cited by the parties, the other cases discussed above, and the purpose of a disciplinary sanction, we conclude that a short suspension is appropriate in this matter," the panel said.

Verett was representing a father in a divorce case that was commenced in Madison County. In December 2006, the court issued an order permanently enjoining Verett's client from contacting his son's doctors unless it was an emergency.

After the order was issued, the mother, represented by Fredrick Steiger of Edwardsville, scheduled a tonsillectomy for her son at Children's Hospital in St. Louis for March 19, 2007.

Several days prior to the surgery, Verett filed a motion to stop the surgery from taking place in Madison County. The motion was denied.

Verett then filed a petition for damages in St. Louis City Circuit Court against the medical providers that were to perform the surgery and also filed an injunction to stop the surgery.

According to the ARDC, at that hearing, Verett failed to tell Circuit Judge John Garvey that she had just had a hearing in Illinois on the same issues.

Garvey set the case for further hearing March 16, 2007.

Garvey entered an order, enjoining the surgery on her client's son, appointed a guardian ad litem for the minor, and ordered the ex-wife to be added as a party.

On March 23, 2007, Verett withdrew her petition after the mother filed a motion to dismiss.

Garvey held a hearing and apologized to the lawyers for Children's Hospital and the mother telling them that had he known that the issue was taken care of in Madison County he would have immediately denied Verett's request.

At the hearing before the ARDC, Garvey testified that once he learned that the issue was disposed of in Madison County he was "mad" and felt like he "had just been lied to in court" by Verett.

Two Madison County associate judges also testified at the hearing. First, Judge Nelson Metz testified that Verett came into his chambers on an emergency petition for appointment of a guardian for a minor.

Metz testified he never saw the petition and told Verett that he was hesitant to sign an ex parte order and suggested that she contact DCFS.

Metz testified that Verett asked him if he would hear the petition if she contacted the DCFS. He informed her that Judge Ellar Duff would be the one to hear it.

He also testified that once Verett left his chambers he wanted to make sure Verett went to the DCFS and not Duff. He said he called Duff's chambers and when there was no answer he started to walk towards Duff's chambers and saw Verett walking out.

"Don't let me catch you judge-shopping on me" Metz said he told her, and she replied, "Either I won't do it again or it won't happen again," but did not deny that was what she was doing.

Duff also testified before the panel that she had known Verett since she first practiced law and that she has an "impeccable" reputation in the community for integrity and veracity.

On cross examination, Duff stated that she was not aware of the details regarding the disciplinary charges against Verett or what Verett may have admitted in that regard.

Verett testified she did not lie to Judge Garvey but said she now understands that Judge Garvey "did not understand what the facts were in Madison County," and that she did not explain matters to Judge Garvey "clear enough to convey the appropriate information," and that it was her responsibility to do so.

The hearing panel then issued its recommendation.

"We find it was clearly and convincingly established that Verett intentionally and knowingly failed to disclose material facts to Judge Garvey in the Missouri proceedings," the panel wrote.

"We find clearly and convincingly that the Respondent acted knowingly and deliberately to conceal material facts from Judge Garvey in the Missouri proceedings."

In 2007, Verett filed suit against Pizza Hut and Troy police officer Clarence Jackson alleging she was injured when walking out the door of a Troy restaurant while holding open the door to allow herself and Jackson to exit.

The case is pending in Madison County.

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