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Friday, June 20, 2014 04:35 pm

Here we go again

Cahnman under ARDC investigation

 Springfield Ward 5 Ald. Sam Cahnman is again in the crosshairs of a state commission charged with investigating misconduct by attorneys.

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, the investigative arm of the state Supreme Court, last week subpoenaed minutes of executive sessions of the city council in which anyone uttered the words “Calvin Christian,” who has three times successfully sued the city under the state Freedom of Information Act. All three cases involved requests for police disciplinary records, and Christian also has a pending lawsuit against the city in federal court, claiming that police have retaliated against him by pulling him over for no good reason. He has received more than 120 traffic tickets, most from city cops, since 2007.

While sitting on the city council, Cahnman also represented Christian in at least one of his traffic cases. Cahnman voted “present” in December, after attorneys for the city raised questions about conflicts of interest. At the time, Jon Gray Noll, an attorney hired to defend the city in a lawsuit brought by Christian after city police shredded files rather than turn them over pursuant to a records from Christian, said that Cahnman could not represent Christian’s interests and the city’s interests at the same time. After Noll, who is also representing the city in the federal lawsuit, and then-corporation counsel John Mehlick raised concerns, Cahnman ceased working as Christian’s lawyer.

Through multiple sources, Illinois Times has learned that the ARDC is also interested in potential conflicts of interest involving Cahnman’s representation of Christian while sitting on the city council.

The ARDC does not make public investigations unless formal accusations are brought against an attorney. Cahnman would not discuss the matter.

“You’re going to have to talk to my lawyer,” Cahnman said. “These investigations are supposed to be confidential unless they (ARDC investigators) find there’s something there.”

In a follow-up email, Cahnman noted that Supreme Court rules say that ARDC investigations “shall be private and confidential.”

“Pursuant to that rule, I cannot make any response to your inquiry other than to refer you to that rule,” Cahnman wrote.

William Moran, Cahnman’s attorney, had no comment.

“There is no public investigation or proceeding,” Moran said.

Christian said that he has not been contacted by the ARDC. He would not say what discussions, if any, he has had with anyone regarding any potential conflicts arising from Cahnman’s representation of him.

“That’s just been my attorney’s advice,” Christian said. “I can’t discuss anything with the media at the moment.”

The Supreme Court censured Cahnman last month for not being truthful in 2008 when he told then Sangamon County associate judge Charles Gramlich that the judge’s receptionist had given him a copy of a page from the judge’s appointment calendar that Cahnman attached to court paperwork to show that a client had attempted to schedule a hearing. The receptionist said that she hadn’t provided a copy to Cahnman, who received a censure, the lightest possible punishment, for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, misrepresentation or fraud, contrary to state rules of professional conduct governing lawyers.

Cahnman wasn’t punished for “kissing and embracing” an inmate in the county jail in 2002, with an ARDC hearing board finding last year that there was no evidence that Cahnman forced himself on the woman or violated jail policy. The hearing board also determined that there was no reason to discipline Cahnman for a 2009 incident in which he was arrested after allegedly offering to pay two women for sex. The women turned out to be undercover police officers posing as prostitutes, but Cahnman was acquitted on criminal charges. The hearing board found that Cahnman’s actions were spontaneous as opposed to planned out.

“He simply fell prey to the affirmative actions of two attractive, undercover police officers,” the board wrote in its ruling.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.


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Wednesday June 26th