Workers’ compensation hearings are supposed to be held in public and before impartial arbitrators. One former Illinois workers’ comp arbitrator recently had her law license suspended for a variety of alleged misbehaviors including inappropriate communication regarding workers’ comp lawyers who appeared before her and rescheduling a controversial workers’ compensation case to keep reporters from attending.
An Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission hearing panel determined that Jennifer Carril’s professional misconduct warranted a two year suspension of her law license.
The News-Democrat reports that Carril rescheduled the workers’ comp case of a former police officer who killed two sisters in a 2007 distracted driving crash. The officer was reportedly going in excess of 120mph while talking on his phone and emailing from his laptop during Thanksgiving I-64 traffic.
Carril allegedly colluded with the officer’s lawyer to reschedule the hearing so reporters couldn’t attend.
“(Carril’s) attempt to conduct a hearing at a time and location so as to prevent the news media from attending is very disturbing and clearly unacceptable,” the disciplinary commission determined. “The right of the news media and of the public to have access to worker’s compensation proceedings should not be infringed on in any manner. By attempting to prevent the news media from attending a hearing, (Carril) acted contrary to the interest of justice.”
Other allegations include that Carril communicated with attorneys who wanted to know how much their workers’ compensation cases were worth and that she offered to conveniently schedule a difficult hearing if her own workers’ compensation case was expedited.
The commission said that it also found Carril unremorseful regarding her misconduct.
“We find that the regret she expressed was primarily for herself, that is, for the loss of her career and her resulting financial hardship. Additionally, we do not believe she fully understands the seriousness of her misconduct,” the opinion stated.