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Algonquin Township officials vote to require malpractice insurance for all attorneys

Algonquin Twp. officials vote to require malpractice coverage for attorneys

Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser addresses a question during a meeting Wednesday in Crystal Lake.
Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser addresses a question during a meeting Wednesday in Crystal Lake.

All lawyers representing officials inside Algonquin Township and its highway department now will have to provide proof they carry malpractice insurance.

Township trustees voted, 4-1, Wednesday night approving a resolution requiring insurance for all government attorneys. Trustee Rachael Lawrence voted “no.”

The resolution follows plagiarism accusations leveled against Robert Hanlon, the $400-an-hour Woodstock attorney representing Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser.

Hanlon does not have malpractice insurance, according to the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission.

Plagiarism allegations from Trustees Melissa Victor and Dave Chapman stemmed from an April 25 brief Hanlon filed in a lawsuit against Clerk Karen Lukasik, former Highway Commissioner Bob Miller and his wife, Anna May Miller.

Lawyers on the other side of the case flipped to Page 4 and noticed some irregularities in Hanlon’s writing. A Google search revealed it actually wasn’t Hanlon’s writing.

It was an uncited, word-for-word copy of an April 2011 Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article.

Later in the brief, the lawyers discovered more language lifted from a “Practice Series” primer on temporary restraining orders from Chicago-based firm Jenner & Block.

Hanlon denied taking any material from the publications.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Gasser defended Hanlon’s use of the material. He cited a footnote to a 1976 Kentucky Supreme Court ruling.

“There’s a legal opinion here,” Gasser said, and then read the footnote. “It says, ‘Legal instruments are widely plagiarized, of course. We see no impropriety in one lawyer’s adopting another’s work, thus becoming the ‘drafter’ in the sense that he accepts responsibility for it.’ ”

Legal instruments widely are defined as documents expressing a legal agreement or defining obligations, entitlements or liabilities. Examples include mortgages, wills and deeds.

Trade journal articles such as the one that showed up without citation in Hanlon’s brief are not considered legal instruments.

Further, the case Gasser cited did not involve an attorney copying an article into a brief without attribution. The 1976 Kentucky Supreme Court ruling was about a bank and the unauthorized practice of law.

“I don’t think the analysis by the highway commissioner on the case he described was on point with the argument he’s attempting to make concerning plagiarism,” township attorney James Kelly said.

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