On Friday, September 8, 2023, the Hearing Board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission recommended the suspension of attorney George Jackson III for remarks that raised questions about the integrity and proficiency of judges and involved disrespectful comments about opposing counsel.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of George Jackson III,” with case no. 2021PR00102.
While providing legal representation for his brother in a first-degree murder trial, Jackson III directed statements that cast doubt on the integrity and capabilities of judges and included derogatory remarks about opposing counsel. This behavior resulted in Jackson III being held in criminal contempt of court on four separate occasions.
The report and recommendation of the hearing board states:
“In that emergency motion, Respondent made the following statements:
Associate Judge James B. Linn mirrors in clone-like fashion the Jack Nicholson character Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men, a narcissist with unchecked hubris freely and knowingly violating rules he considers being nothing more than inconvenient nuisances. That arrogance which encapsulates Associate Judge Linn portends that he will be met with the same fate as the Colonel as well he should.”
The Administrator subsequently charged Jackson III with multiple violations, including engaging in disruptive conduct within a tribunal; employing tactics with no significant purpose other than to embarrass, obstruct, or burden a third party; disseminating statements known to be false or made with reckless disregard for their veracity regarding a judge’s qualifications or integrity; committing criminal offenses that reflect negatively on Jackson III’s integrity, trustworthiness, or suitability as a lawyer; participating in actions involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; and engaging in behavior detrimental to the proper functioning of the justice system.
During the proceedings, Jackson expressed regret for his choice of language, acknowledging its potential to divert attention from the core issue. He also admitted that commenting on a judge’s intellectual capacity was inappropriate and pledged to refrain from such comments in the future.
Testifying in Jackson’s favor, colleague Michael Ettinger praised Jackson’s previous good reputation in the legal community. However, Ettinger’s own prior disciplinary history was noted during the proceedings, which dated back to 1989. Remarkably, Jackson III had no prior instances of disciplinary action against him. This fact was taken into account when arriving at the hearing board’s recommendation.
The Hearing Panel, tasked with evaluating the case, ultimately suggested a three-year suspension. This recommendation reflected the seriousness of Jackson’s misconduct and his reluctance to accept responsibility. The panel emphasized that the purpose of disciplinary proceedings was not punitive, but rather aimed at safeguarding the public, maintaining the integrity of the legal profession, and upholding justice.
Aggravating factors were considered for the case, including a recurring pattern of impugning judges, displaying hostility towards specific groups, and an apparent lack of remorse for the impact of his remarks. Jackson’s steadfast denial of wrongdoing and his inability to perceive the unethical nature of his conduct also weighed heavily in the decision.
While Jackson had no prior disciplinary history, cooperated in the proceedings, and demonstrated evidence of good character, his request for specific conditions such as counseling was ultimately rejected. The panel deemed his misconduct as not amenable to mentoring or training.
In conclusion, the Hearing Panel recommended a suspension, expressing doubts about Jackson’s future compliance with professional standards. This recommendation aligned with the broader aim of protecting both the public and the legal profession.
The recommendation states:
“Accordingly having carefully considered the purposes of the disciplinary process, the nature of the misconduct, the relevant circumstances, and the cases cited above, we recommend that Respondent, George Jackson, III, be suspended for three years and until further order of the Court.”
According to avvo.com, Mr. Jackson III is a commercial real estate attorney in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the Chicago-Kent College of Law Illinois Institute of Technology, graduating in 1985. He acquired his law license in 1985.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.