Former Madison County judge's reinstatement request denied by Supreme Court

By Bethany Krajelis | Nov 29, 2012

The Illinois Supreme Court has denied a former Madison County judge’s request to be reinstated to the practice of law.

The justices earlier this month denied Thomas Earl Hildebrand Jr.’s petition for reinstatement, as well as his request for leave to file exceptions to the report and recommendation of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission’s (ARDC) review board.

The ARDC review board in August recommended that the state high court deny Hildebrand’s request for reinstatement, saying that he had not come to grips with the harm of misconduct.

It appears the justices took the board’s recommendation on Nov. 19, when it issued an order denying Hildebrand’s requests. Justice Lloyd Karmeier took no part in the court’s decision, which was not explained in the order.

Under Supreme Court Rule 767, Hildebrand will not be able to make another request for reinstatement to the practice of law for two years, said James Grogan, deputy administrator and chief counsel for the ARDC.

Hildebrand, who practiced law in Granite City after a five-year stint as associate judge in the 1980s, was suspended in 2006 after the state high court determined he engaged in misconduct by representing clients with conflicting interests in a criminal matter.

The court also found he engaged in dishonesty and deceit by making false statements to court and law enforcement officials, as well as a client, and by talking to a criminal defendant without obtaining permission from that defendant’s attorney.

Hildebrand, who was previously disciplined for similar misconduct, first sought reinstatement in 2007. He withdrew that request, however, after a hearing board recommended his petition be denied.

He filed another request for reinstatement in 2010. A panel of the ARDC hearing board in January expressed reservations, but ultimately recommended that Hildebrand be reinstated with conditions that included getting a mentor.

The ARDC fought against Hildebrand’s request and in August, the review board agreed, saying it was troubled by the former judge’s “continued insistence … that he was attempting to help his clients and that he was acting with good intentions.”

The review board stated in its report that while Hildebrand’s conduct has been “generally positive” since his suspension, he still “fails to recognize that when he engaged in a conflict of interest and acted in one client’s interests, he was causing harm to another client.”

The citation for Hildebrand’s disciplinary matter is 2010PR102.

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