"Counsel For Crazy Town" Jill Clark, who seems to be waging a single-handed lawsuit war against the forces of North Minneapolis revitalization, is currently facing a disciplinary hearing by the Minnesota Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility.
Though Clark has a crappy little blog of her own (Jill Clark Has But Weeks Dot Com) and has promised forthcoming revelations about her disciplinary proceedings, Clark has posted relatively little information and so Johnny Northside Dot Com has become, de facto, the only place anybody interested in these proceedings can consistently obtain information about Clark.
Act Now, And I'll Throw In A Set Of Steak Knives
IN FACT, anybody who wants a copy of the voluminous "Clark disciplinary documents" I possess is free to email me at email@example.com. So far I've given away a set of documents to somebody I'm pretty sure is a defendant of Clark and somebody else I'm pretty sure is the administrative aide to a high ranking public official. Beyond that, my mouth is sealed.
Well, OK, the documents have also been circulated pretty freely in my own social circle. Not since Jerry Moore was named in the Maxwell criminal indictment have documents flown from hand to hand in North Minneapolis with such intense interest. DID I SAY THAT? I guess I did.
So voluminous and juicy are the documents that I'm still trying to write articles based on the original bunch I received on or about June 12, and excitedly announced with a musical embed featuring the song "HOT, HOT, HOT."
Far Out Of Proportion To The Reasonable Needs Of The Case
In the course of the current proceeding, documents have sprung loose concerning a previous disciplinary action against Jill Clark, which was concluded on August 24, 2006 and concerned events from 2004. The unprofessional conduct swirled around a case involving a juvenile accused of a sex crime and Clark's representation of that juvenile which, in the words of Judge Zimmerman, was "replete with examples of..."
"...failure to follow court orders, baseless motions, and needless delay." A great deal of information about the juvenile is redacted from the disciplinary documents but, incredibly, one piece of information that remained was the case number, J5-04-064541. Using this case number as a Google search term turns up the case at the Court of Appeals, click here. From this, it can be determined the juvenile had the initials R.N.T.
The case, which is disturbing, involves the juvenile male RNT, age 13, who was staying at the home of his grandmother. RNT had sex with a 10-year-old girl whose initials are DDT, who was the daughter of the same grandmother. Therefore it appears the 10-year-old was RNT's aunt.
The fact RNT had sex with DDT was never seriously in dispute. RNT himself apparently admitted having sex with DDT "three or four times," though denied having sex the most recent time, when the conduct came to the attention of authorities. The case turned into a mess about whether RNT had knowingly and willingly pled guilty and whether he could withdraw his guilty plea. Indeed, looking at that appeal and what occurred with RNT's guilty plea, even I (one of Clark's harshest critics) could say, "Clark zealously advocated for her client."
And then I'd have to point out her zealous advocacy hurt far more than it helped, and she could have gotten the same result without, for example, having that mixed up kid stay in detention for a long period of time and pissing off the judge so badly that Zimmerman wrote, "This Court has lived with this case (for more than a year) and it is by far the most unpleasantly litigious case this Court has experienced as a judge. The litigiousness is far out of proportion to the reasonable needs of the case, and in truth (blanked out) best interests...has not been well-served by the explosive and heated litigation of this case by (blanked out) and his counsel of record, Jill Clark."
Willful Violation, Inexcusable Failure By Clark
In a document that must have taken at least a couple days for a clerk to write and research, with meticulous footnotes, Judge Zimmerman documented Clark's actions and ordered Clark to pay $1,000, as well as file an "affidavit of compliance." A copy of the order was to be provided to the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. It was this order which appears to have caused the "private admonishment" of Clark though, at one point (click here for previous article) the Board was actually considering a suspension.
The Zimmerman order, dated February 16, 2004, notes that Clark was given an opportunity to "show cause why she should not be sanctioned in the amount of $1,000 for her failure to follow orders of this court." Nothing Clark said or did made the court think otherwise. Zimmerman noted "This Court has never before sanctioned any lawyer," but as far as Clark was concerned, "(Her) behavior was a willful and deliberate violation of repeated scheduling orders of this Court, and an inexcusable failure to comply with the Rules of Delinquency Procedure. Her actions led to her client being held in detention awaiting disposition for over 90 days..."
Judge Zimmerman stated Clark's conduct was "egregious."
The Lawyer Needed A Lawyer
Clark actually retained legal counsel to represent her in the disciplinary proceeding, namely the law firm of Ruvelson and Kautzer in St. Paul. That law firm wrote an extensive letter to Judge Zimmerman, which wrote that "the thrust of her representation" of the juvenile was to move the court to withdraw the juvenile's guilty plea.
(With considerable effort, at this point Johnny Northside refrains from jokes about "the thrust" of representation)
The letter did make the record about how the juvenile had waved his right to a speedy disposition, and argued Clark just had a full schedule, she wasn't using "dilatory" tactics. The letter was only two pages long, and didn't quite fill up the two pages. Also, there was a pretty impressive block of letterhead at the top. If Clark paid those lawyers to do anything, it was to submit something that didn't run to 50 pages like she's at war against the earth's forests.
Clark Was "Vexatious" And "Misrepresented" Matters To The Court
In writing about a supposed conflict in Clark's schedule that involved the federal court, the judge wrote, "In summary, Ms. Clark violated her duty of candor to a judicial tribunal by misrepresenting the existence of a federal court order to this court at a time when there was none. She repeatedly ignored this court's scheduling orders and treated them with disdain. Her actions in doing so were vexatious and caused undue delay. When held accountable for her conduct, and required to follow the rules which protect her client's interest in a speedy disposition, she unleashed a vitriolic personal attack on the Court."
This line that follows says so much. The court first makes clear the sanctions are ONLY based upon the case at hand, but addressing Clark's behavior more broadly, Zimmerman writes, "(T)his Court has had the unpleasant task of repeatedly admonishing Ms. Clark for improper behavior or baseless, dilatory arguments, and the record is replete with examples of Ms. Clark failing to follow court orders, failing to follow court rules, or filing baseless motions, all with the effect of protracting this litigation and causing needless delay."
While Her 13-Year-Old Client Grew Cobwebs On His Elbows
Meanwhile, the 13-year-old was detained for 90 days while, as Zimmerman put it, Clark demonstrated "a pattern of appearing when she found it convenient or consistent with her litigation strategy." The court professed itself mystified at Clark filing a motion immediately before Christmas which addressed the 13-year-old's being in detention...then withdrawing the motion, which guaranteed the child would remain in detention over Christmas. Equally inexplicable, Clark "did not file the stipulated motion for an order that would protect the interest of her client in avoiding registration as a predatory sexual offender."
Clark "Not Competent" To Represent Her Young Client
The court noted that Clark's failure to comply with court orders and move the case forward in a timely way showed she was "not competent to represent" her young client's interests and he was "prejudiced by her conduct through his lengthy stay in detention."
Zimmerman said, based on the record, "the Court concludes not only that Ms. Clark has engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer of the Court, but also that her conduct in the litigation raises substantial issues related to (blanked out)'s Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel." The Court notes that because of CLARK, this young man was detained 99 days instead of the maximum of 30 allowed under the rules. The court claimed an appropriate disposition of the case had been reached, not BECAUSE of Jill Clark but IN SPITE OF HER.
Definition Of Baseless, See Jill Clark
On her blog, which has been oh-so-silent for a while, Jill Clark has been writing a little dictionary of sorts, trotting out various legal terms and then talking about what she feels those terms mean, or should mean, or could mean, or mean when court officials are being MEAN.
Here's a term Judge Zimmerman defined in his order. BASELESS. The court notes the arguments made in Clark's motion for reconsideration were "baseless" or previously considered by the court. Zimmerman then goes on to note, "This court does not use the term 'baseless' lightly." The court then discusses some of Clark's filings and calls one "frivolous on its face."
Of course, it should be noted that on appeal the lower court was found to have abused its discretion in this case. However, Clark didn't manage to successfully appeal the sanctions. Once again, as it noted before, Zimmerman goes out of his way to say this is Clark's overall "pattern of conduct" and doesn't just apply to the case at hand.
Ten People Waited, Clark Was A No Show
Much of Zimmerman's order overlaps the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board's admonishment of Clark, though the admonishment notes that ten people showed up for a hearing, but without Clark there, the hearing couldn't take place. The court sought a sanction of $1,000 against Clark. That was when Clark asked the judge to "voluntarily remove" himself from the case and went to great lengths force Zimmerman's removal. The results were not successful.
In typical Jill Clark fashion--creating a shit storm and then complaining she's covered in shit--Clark complained the judge was biased against her client because the judge didn't like CLARK. She even attempted an appeal to the State Supreme court on this issue, and failed.
The admonishment notes Clark has the right to appeal to the State Supreme Court if she disagrees with the admonishment. This blog has looked, but turned up no such appeal. Clark apparently ate the $1,000 and endured the admonishment. The admonishment was, after all, private. Until recently. And in the sense of being fully public for the first time, this blog posting represents that moment. One can't help but think the punishment back in 2006 should have been much more severe.
Now, with Clark facing new disciplinary charges, the old admonishment documents are coming out and, arguably, some of Clark's current alleged behavior is similar to what she's now accused of. Fibbing about her schedule is kind of like creating a plaintiff out of thin air to get a judge recused. It's kind of like the "deceptive stapling" incident alleged in the current disciplinary charges.
Unleashing vitriol on a judge...yeah, Clark's been there, done that.
I can't help but wonder what happened to this 13-year-old. This young man would now be about 19 years old. Does he have a claim for malpractice? And does Jill Clark have a lawyer malpractice insurance policy in place, or did she have one in place back in 2006 that would still be in effect?
I see the writing on the wall for Clark. And I think the final act will be Clark's own clients descending upon her like a horde of zombies, seeking payouts for malpractice.
You can look for Johnny Northside Dot Com to have all the details.