Supreme Court disbars former Edwardsville attorney

News-DemocratJanuary 28, 2014 

On Jan. 17, 1990, Edwardsville lawyer Gary Peel was before the U.S. Supreme Court, listening to his lawyer argue his case against the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

Exactly 24 years later, Illinois Supreme Court Justices signed the order disbarring Peel.

"In theory, he can file an application for reinstatement after five years, but it's a very hard row to hoe," said ARDC spokesman James Grogan.

The U.S. Supreme Court could agree to review Peel's disbarment, but that, too, isn't likely, Grogan said.

Peel, 69, is in Ashland, Ky., serving a 12-year sentence for child pornography and bankruptcy fraud. He is scheduled for release in September 2017.

During his divorce in 2006, Peel put into his ex-wife's mailbox nude pictures of her younger sister and said he'd mail them to her parents if she continued to challenge his bankruptcy, which would have voided the financial settlement in the divorce case. Peel took the pictures in 1974 when he had an affair with his sister-in-law, who was 16 at the time.

Federal agents investigated and child pornography, bankruptcy fraud, and obstruction of justice charges were filed. A federal jury found Peel guilty on March 23, 2007.

The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission filed an interim suspension of Peel's law license in 2008. The seven justices of the Illinois Supreme Court, who impose discipline, ordered disbarrment for Peel on Jan. 17.

In 2011, Peel was resentenced in the case after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out an obstruction of justice charged. U.S. District Judge William Stiehl imposed another 12-year prison sentence.

In that U.S. Supreme Court case, the ARDC tried to discipline Peel after he listed on his letterhead that he was a "certified civil trial specialist." The ARDC argued that the title misled the public that Peel held himself out as a specialist.

Peel argued that barring his use of a certification by the National Board of Trial Advocacy violated his First Amendment rights. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed.

"At the time of that case, Mr. Peel was a complete professional," said Grogan, who witnessed the arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570.

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