On Friday, February 24, 2023, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission filed disciplinary charges against attorney James H. Schultz for incompetence. The case is entitled “In the Matter of James H. Schultz”
The charges cited Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.4(a)(2), 1.7(a)(1), 1.5(a), 1.16(d), and 3.4(a) which state:
Failure to provide competent representation to a client.
Failure to reasonably consult with a client about the means.
Engaging in a concurrent conflict of interest.
Charging or collecting an unreasonable fee.
Failure to refund an unearned fee.
Knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal.
The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
Allegedly, while the respondent is handling a client in a number of matters that include defending the client in regard to an order of protection and representing him in a child custody case in Rock Island County, the respondent committed the following misconducts: lack of competence; conflict of interest; failure to comply with a court order; charging an unreasonable fee, and; failure to return an unearned fee.
The filing states:
“Between February 20, 2020, and March 5, 2020, following meetings and discussions with Richard and Holt, Respondent prepared Ruth’s last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, and a quitclaim deed. The last will and testament prepared by Respondent provided that upon Ruth’s death, any cash in Ruth’s estate would be split between Richard and her niece, Eugenia. Under the terms of the will, the rest of Ruth’s assets, including any real property or possessions were to pass to Richard upon Ruth’s death.”
The filing continues:
“Respondent served as a witness to both the last will and testament and the durable power of attorney. At no time did Respondent advise Ruth that there may be a conflict between her interests and those of Richard, whom Respondent also represented. Respondent did not advise Ruth to obtain independent legal counsel. After that meeting, on or about March 8, 2020, Respondent and Doyle executed a retainer agreement with the client listed as “Dick Doyle f/b/o Ruth Clark,” which Richard signed. Respondent never executed a retainer agreement with Ruth.”
The filing further states:
“Among other things, the court found that Respondent engaged in a conflict of interest by representing both Richard and Ruth. In addition, the court found that Respondent failed to provide adequate or competent representation to Ruth by causing the transfer of her assets to Richard, which rendered her unable to pay for her nursing home care while also making her ineligible for Medicaid benefits. The court found that the Respondent’s actions served to benefit Richard to the detriment of Ruth. Finally, the court found Respondent’s purported time spent on the matter to be excessive and unreasonable.”
With all these factual allegations, the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission believes that the respondent is in violation of the above-mentioned Rules of Professional Conduct. The Administrator requests that the matter be assigned to a panel of the Hearing Board that can conduct a hearing to make findings of facts and a recommendation to warrant the discipline against the respondent.
Mr. Schultz attended the Drake University Law School, graduating in 1980. He practices in Rock Island County, Illinois. He is licensed in Illinois. His info can be found on Linkedin.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.