Judge David B. Cleary’s 9 AM court call consisted of one matter – the Marty Paris Bankruptcy. Mr. Paris sits in Cook County Jail in what some experts are calling Debtors’ Prison. His lawyers argued in his stead that the limited liability companies’ interests he holds are property subject to the bankruptcy stay of asset disposal. Mrs. Paris wants them and has thus argued for their transfer pursuant to Cook County Judge Abbey Fishman Romanek’s orders, the same orders that are keeping Mr. Paris in the slammer.
The case has become well-known due to coverage from the Cook County Record‘s Jon Bilyk. ALABnews has also reported that Chicago divorce attorney Brian Hurst contributed to having his ex-client jailed.
Mr. Paris is represented in the bankruptcy by attorney Scott Clar. Mrs. Paris had a laundry list of attorneys representing her. On hand were Elizabeth Richert, Sean Crotty, Carolina Sales, and Tom Cronin. Earlier, ALABnews reported that Mrs. Paris and Mr. Crotty are lovers, which hadn’t kept him from stretching her with legal bills, bills she discharged to Mr. Paris via Romanek’s orders.
To the casual observer, it may have seemed like overkill for an ex-wife and co-parent of seven children to have so many attorneys keeping the children’s father behind bars. Mr. Paris, the apparent breadwinner, was not present; he was and is still in jail. Even Mrs Paris’ divorce attorney, Don Angelini had an attorney appear and address the court, Dan Dawson, representing Angelini’s firm, Ori Law Group.
Ms. Sales did the speaking for Mrs. Paris, invoking the Rooker-Feldman doctrine to ensure that the federal bankruptcy court kept its hands off a state court order leading to Paris’ incarceration.
But Sales’ enthusiasm on behalf of Mrs. Paris’ group of attorneys might have got the best of her.
She informed Judge Cleary that Mr. Paris’ attorney had told Judge Romanek’s divorce court that Mr. Paris had $150,000 available of his own assets to get him out of jail. That would be curious if those assets are tied up in the bankruptcy. Jon Bilyk at the Cook County Record had earlier reported, “At best, [Mr. Paris] could borrow $150,000 to cover a portion of the bond.” Sales’ neglected to mention the increased liability surely relevant to a bankruptcy court. Then, Sales described Judge Romanek’s Planes, Trains, and Automobiles logic as to how the remand order required $300,000. “She just doubled it.”
Judge Cleary had heard enough from Mrs. Paris’ other lawyers a few weeks ago, and did not let Mrs. Paris’ lover or her other attorneys speak.
After the attorneys for both sides spoke, Bankruptcy Trustee Ira Bodenstein told Mrs. Paris, who attended, that she was on notice for any assets she received from Mr. Paris due to disposing of assets in the limited liability companies.
The risk to Mrs. Paris’ potential wealth is real, depending on how her behavior unfolds. Clar noted several times that Judge Romanek was forcing Mr. Paris to breach fiduciary duties at Mrs. Paris’ behest. Mrs. Paris’ show of legal force coupled with an insistence on dissipating company assets to meet one debt could be seen as an inequitable distribution by Bodenstein later, or another court should Mrs. Paris become the target of a derivative suit by angry limited liability company members.
Clar asked rhetorically what possible good could come from Mrs. Paris’ insistence to keep Mr. Paris locked up indefinitely.
One issue Sales raised in Mr. Paris’ bankruptcy schedules is a malpractice claim Mr. Paris lists as an asset. No targeted attorneys were mentioned in open court. Brian Hurst was not reported in attendance but is a possible target. Earlier today, AbusiveDiscretion, the nation’s largest judicial misconduct news service, reported that Hurst was not anticipated to attend.
Ironically, Brian Hurst’s final appearance on behalf of Mr. Paris before the divorce court was more than two years ago when his firm withdrew. Since then, he has represented his firm or himself. The normal statute of limitations for legal malpractice is two years. Estoppel issues, such as having someone incarcerated to keep them from filing a claim or bankruptcy as a result, could affect those statutory limitations.
Other attorneys present included George Spathis, a failed candidate for a North Shore Lake County school board and attorney for Levenfeld Pearstein. He was recently accused of race-baiting in Cook County state courts. Mr. Spathis did not address the court.