Walter Maksym may well be the most embarrassed attorney in Illinois.
Homing in on his grammatical deficiencies (and a 345-word sentence), the 7th Circuit publicly critiqued the litigator's inability to file an intelligible complaint.
It ordered him to show cause why he should not be suspended or otherwise sanctioned.
If that wasn't enough, the panel then directed the clerk to send a copy of its opinion to the state bar's disciplinary authorities.
The written words of Walter Maksym came to the attention of the appellate court after a district court rejected his second amended complaint. All three briefs were "generally incomprehensible and riddled with errors."
His appeal similarly lacked coherency, having been riddled with "rampant grammatical, syntactical, and typographical errors."
When questioned about his fondness for run-on sentences (23 exceeded 100 words), Maksym cited his health.
Maksym told the Chicago Tribune that he had been undergoing cancer treatment that "affected [his] ability to practice law."
Did his illness also cause him to forget about Rule 1.16? The rule states:
Attorneys shall withdraw from representation when a physical or mental condition makes it unreasonably difficult to carry out one's duties.
Arguably, a sudden loss of language skills would fall under this mandate.
It appears as though Walter Maksym had an ethical duty to end the underlying representation. And in failing to do so, he may have sacrificed his reputation and career.
In the end, ignoring signs of diminished competency may not have been the best choice.
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