Air of uncertainty, nonetheless
ST. CHARLES - The Kane County state's attorney's office opened for business as usual Tuesday but with an air of uncertainty over Meg Gorecki's ability to continue her term.
Gorecki declined to make a public statement about an Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission recommendation to suspend her law license for six months.
The suspension stems from an official misconduct count filed by the agency. The ARDC is an arm of the Illinois Supreme Court, which oversees attorneys.
Sources at a state's attorney's branch office said the atmosphere there was tense. First Assistant State's Attorney Robert Berlin said employees are keenly aware of the ARDC's recommendation, but it has not affected their work.
"It's not going to change what we are doing here every day," Berlin said. "It's not going to have any effect on the prosecution of cases. Our assistant state's attorneys will keep going to court and keep prosecuting cases, just as they've been doing."
The ARDC recommendation does not affect Gorecki's legal authority to charge or prosecute defendants or represent the county in civil litigation. Nor does the ARDC recommendation immediately affect Gorecki, who will appeal the recommendation to an ARDC review board. The appeal could take as long as a year to resolve.
"I think people understand this is the first step, there is an appeals process," Berlin said. "It's going to be a while before the issue gets resolved."
Gorecki's office has been operating regularly despite the ongoing ARDC case, which began when the agency filed a count of official misconduct in February 2001. An Elgin resident filed a complaint against Gorecki after the disclosure of a Kane County Sheriff's Department report about a series of tape-recorded messages.
In the messages, Gorecki told Jane Morrison she would have to make campaign contributions to a Kane County official in exchange for a job for Morrison's then boyfriend.
Gorecki initially denied leaving the tape recordings but later admitted her actions. She gave emotional testimony at a November ARDC hearing at which she apologized for her actions.
The hearing panel was not unanimous in making its recommendation, with two members suggesting a six-month suspension while another, an attorney, recommended censure.
"If it were a ball game, it would be the third inning," said Kay Caflin, a staunch Gorecki supporter who worked on Gorecki's 2000 campaign for state's attorney. "You don't call a game in the third inning."
Catlin praised the dissenting opinion issued by the ARDC hearing members who recommended censure rather than suspension and felt the recommendation simply was a step in the process.
"There is an entire system in place, and that system needs to be allowed to unfold," Catlin said. "I think you have to let the entire process play out to be fair to her, to be fair to the system."
While the release of the recommendation continued reverberating Tuesday, few attorneys would comment on Gorecki's professional dilemma.
Dave Camic, a prominent Aurora attorney, said the recommendation will not change anything he does in regard to his cases dealing with the state's attorney's office. He said he believes the continued ARDC saga will not change the daily operation of the state's attorney's office.
Camic said the effect the ARDC case will have on Gorecki's political future in Kane County is uncertain.
"She's been very resilient as a politician, and it will be interesting to see whether or not this resilience will remain," he said.
Camic called the ARDC suspension a lawyer's "worst nightmare."
Kane County Bar Association President Steven Andersson agreed with Camic. He said it would be a blow to any attorney, but it is a sanction that attorneys can overcome.
It really depends on the type of practice involved, Andersson said. "I've certainly seen attorneys suspended to the practice of law come back, but it doesn't necessarily help their reputation."