Posted Online: Jan. 04, 2013, 7:58 pm
Terronez's law license still in dispute
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By Anthony Watt, firstname.lastname@example.org
In its final written argument before the fate of Jeff Terronez's law license is decided, the administrator of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission again argued that Mr. Terronez overreached his position when he was Rock Island County's state's attorney and should be disbarred.
In August, an ARDC panel recommended Mr.Terronez be suspended from practicing law for two years. He had pleaded guilty in criminal court to one misdemeanor count of providing alcohol to a minor identified as "JW" and a 19-year-old identified as "BY." The incident led Mr. Terronez to resign as state's attorney in April 2011. The administrator -- the ARDC's version of a prosecutor -- had argued that Mr. Terronez should be disbarred, but the panelists ruled that there was misconduct but not to the degree contended by the administrator.
The case is now in appeal, with the administrator again arguing the seriousness of Mr. Terronez's conduct and the belief that it was serious enough to warrant the loss of the law license. Mr. Terronez, in turn, is arguing that, during the initial phase of the case, the administrator did not meet the burden of proof required.
On Friday, the administrator filed a final rebuttal argument before oral arguments, which are expected some time this spring.
In Friday's filing, the administrator argued Mr. Terronez's relationship with JW began during the case against former United Township High School teacher Jason VanHoutte, now in prison after pleading guilty to sexual encounters with the underage student. Mr. Terronez's relationship with JW continued after the case was tried.
During that later stage of the relationship, he bought her alcohol and sent her what the administrator described as "sexually charged text messages."
"For respondent to argue that his relationship and sex-based discussions with JW were not exploitative strains credulity," the rebuttal states.
The argument filed Friday contends that there were grounds to apply the charge of overreaching because the relationship began as an interaction of an attorney with a client, regardless of whether an attorney-client relationship still existed when the infractions occurred.
The administrator also argues in Friday's brief that Mr. Terronez committed criminal offenses while serving as the county's lead prosecutor, lied to authorities who were investigating those crimes and conducted an exploitative relationship with the underaged victim of a sex crime.
The administrator contends that any one of those on their own would lead to a lengthy suspension for an attorney.
"(C)onsidered cumulatively, the factors warrant disbarment here," the brief states.