Doctor allegedly wielding gun in online bankruptcy hearing risks criminal contempt

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Long-time Northwest Side doctor faces possible criminal contempt charges after allegedly wielding a handgun during a bankruptcy court videoconference hearing amid a difficult eviction dispute with his owner.

The 71-year-old doctor, a third-generation family medicine doctor in the Portage Park neighborhood, was ordered this week to appear before U.S. District Judge John Kness on December 14 and “show why he shouldn’t be. detained. in criminal contempt of court, ”the records indicate.

Any finding of criminal contempt could result in jail time or other penalties.

The case raises interesting questions about how defendants should behave in remote hearings in the era of COVID-19.

Doctor’s attorney, Anthony Klytta, of Des Plaines, told the Tribune in a telephone interview Thursday that the doctor was representing himself in his own bankruptcy case at the time and was simply not surrendering Realize that the Zoom court appeal was technically treated the same. as appearing in person at the American courthouse in Dirksen.

“It’s just too bad that this happened,” Klytta said. “(He) is a very good man.”

The contempt proceeding stems from a July 9 hearing before U.S. bankruptcy judge Janet Baer, ​​who presided over the doctor’s Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. At the heart of the case was a row in course with its owner, who had kicked the doctor out of his family’s longtime offices on Montrose and Cicero avenues in May, court records show.

The owner claimed in a court file that after changing the building’s locks in the presence of Cook County Sheriff’s assistants, the doctor returned and had new locks drilled, then “illegally re-entered the premises. and continued to operate his medical practice. ”

During the July hearing, which was conducted by teleconference due to the ongoing pandemic, the doctor asked the judge to speak, which she granted, according to the records. He then accused the owner of threatening his life and stealing money and prescription books.

When Baer attempted to revert to the subject of the deportation, the doctor allegedly held up his concealed transport license in front of the camera along with a large black handgun. He claimed that “due to the owner’s behavior, he carried the gun with him at all times,” according to court records.

Baer immediately stopped the doctor from speaking and told him he was not allowed to have a gun in court, which the video hearing constituted, according to the records.

In a motion seeking a contempt order, the owner’s attorney said the “scandalous event” should be fully documented so that any future sheriff’s deputy called upon to evict the doctor would be “fully aware that he is not. only armed but irrational. ”

“Handing over a gun and bragging that it’s on your person at all times cannot be dismissed as the product of a lack of knowledge of legal process,” the motion said. “This conduct was out of order and the product of (him) being irrational, delusional and dangerous.”

The doctor then apologized to the court for his behavior, according to the records. In a court file in September, his lawyer said that while he certainly would have known he couldn’t carry a gun in a real courtroom, “it’s another matter to assume that someone one knows “that doing so in his own home could result in charges of criminal contempt.

As to the underlying eviction dispute, the doctor blamed it on his relationship with a lawyer struck off the bar, who he said negotiated the rent payments in bad faith and convinced the doctor to file the balance sheet first.

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