Q: Does a lawyer have any recourse against the filer of a false ARDC complaint? Or does Rule 775 grant him TOTAL immunity?
Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 775 “IMMUNITY” seems to offer total protection to anyone who files an ARDC complaint against a lawyer, even if the grievance is entirely untrue and filed simply to harass the lawyer. The ARDC thoroughly investigates every claim, and it seems unfair to force lawyers to spend the significant time and effort required to protect their license and livelihood against even the most intentionally malicious and defamatory claims. QUESTION: Are there ANY exceptions to this rule? That is, is there ANY legal theory that would permit the lawyer to sue the spiteful person who filed the grievance? Or does Rule 775 mean that there's absolutely nothing the targeted lawyers can do, they must simply “take it”?
A: I have read both of your questions. Rule 775 does provide that immunity in the context of ARDC communications. It is not clear if the suit you describe is a malpractice claim against you, but if so I would suggest you review with your attorney. If not involving a malpractice claim, but arising from alleged conduct in a lawsuit where you are representing one of the parties, I would consider whether the ARDC complaint arises from conduct in the lawsuit. If so and if the Court has addressed any of the same issues then, as appropriate I would incorporate into my response to the ARDC. Regardless, it is critical that your Response to the ARDC focus on facts and substance and not the motives or personality of the person making the complaint.
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