Chicago lawyer reprimanded by federal appeals court

By Ameet Sachdev
Posted March 23 at 6:01 p.m.

The federal court of appeals in Chicago took the unusual step of reprimanding a Chicago lawyer for unprofessional behavior and fined him $5,000.

The court cited Michael Greco, 47, for repeatedly missing deadlines and ignoring phone calls from court officials, in an opinion released Tuesday. Judge Frank Easterbrook, who wrote the opinion, described Greco’s conduct in harsh terms.

“The events recounted in this opinion show that Greco is a menace to his clients and a scofflaw with respect to appellate procedure,” wrote Easterbrook, one of the best known judges on the appellate court. “The district court may wish to consider whether he should remain a member of its bar.”

Greco declined to comment on the court’s sanction.

Observers of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the court does not levy sanctions against lawyers often. The federal courts have authority to discipline lawyers, independent of the Illinois Supreme Court, which oversees the legal profession in the state.

Greco has not been disciplined by the Illinois Supreme Court before and is not involved in any pending proceedings, according to the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission.

The federal courts refer matters to the ARDC, said James Grogan, the commission’s deputy administrator, but he would not confirm nor deny whether the commission is investigating Greco.

Greco represents three black employees of the Cook County prison system who sued their employer in 2008, alleging discrimination in the agency’s promotions. A federal judge dismissed the suits in September 2008 but granted the plaintiffs 40 days to refile their cases.

The new complaints were not filed until May 2009, well past the deadline the judge had set and the cases were thrown out again.

Greco challenged the dismissal with the appellate court, but Judge Easterbrook said the 2009 suits were not timely filed.

Easterbrook said Greco’s conduct was so sloppy that Greco must send his clients copies of his opinion “so that they may consider whether to file malpractice suits against him.”

The “Above the Law” blog first reported on Easterbrook’s opinion. To read the whole opinion, click here.

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