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BLOG: Terronez Hearing

Former Rock Island County State’s Attorney Jeff Terronez was scheduled to appear before the state’s Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission in Springfield, Illinois at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 24, 2012. It is expected that the permanent status of Mr. Terronez’s license to practice law will be decided at that hearing.

Scroll down to read the live blog from the hearing. 

Terronez was admitted to practice law in Illinois November 6, 1997.  His license to practice law was suspended October 12, 2011 “until further order of Court during pendancy of disciplinary proceedings,” according to the ARDC online. 

The ARDC offers this definition of an interim suspension:

“An interim suspension reflects the determination of the Supreme Court that a lawyer should be suspended during the pendency of a disciplinary proceeding. In imposing interim suspension, the Court orders that the lawyer be suspended until further order of the Court and may impose such conditions as the Court deems necessary. The lawyer is not authorized to practice law during the period of the interim suspension. The Court may terminate the interim suspension upon imposition of final discipline or under other circumstances as the Supreme Court deems just.”

Check out complete News 8 coverage of the investigation into the activities of Jeff Terronez – click here.

LIVE BLOG

Note: This blog is paraphrasing much, not all, of today’s hearing.

3:47 – Adjournment – the panel now will decide its recommendation on whether or not to disbar Terronez. This generally takes 30 to 90 days. It is then up to the Illinois Supreme Court to make the decision about Terronez’ future.

3:46 – Only one question clarifying a date

3:46 – Panel of judges now have the opportunity to ask questions

3:46 – Prosecution: Disbarment is the proper recommendation to the Supreme Court

3:44 – Prosecution: We do think the criminal conduct alone would warrant disbarment – the repeated false statements alone warrants disbarment

3:43 – Prosecution: Did any of these cases mentioned by the defense involve minors, or lie to police.

3:42 – Prosecution rebuttal

3:42 – Defense rests

3:41 – Defense: Look at this with clear vision – Life is a movie it isn’t a snapshot, look at the whole movie – You’ll find a good young man.

3:32 – Defense: This is capitol punishment in the professional sense.

3:25 – Terronez’ defense lawyer discussing various cases where public officials were not disbarred

3:20 – Defense: Jeff practiced without a problem from 1997 – No financial problems – Character witnesses talked at length about him

3:18 – Defense: We’re not here to say he didn’t do wrong – We’re talking about level of wrong

3:17 – Defense: Is what might have been in his mind the reason for this?

3:16 – Defense: Sexting, it is pretty awful, but there’s no invitation, there’s no kissing or touching

3:15 – Defense: What exactly is the prosecution recommend disbarment for? Surely it’s not for the misdemeanor

3:15 – Defense: This is an evil view of the world. How did he exploit this girl?

3:14 – Defense now begins closing arguments

3:14 – Closing arguments for the prosecution are over – they rest.

3:13 – Prosecution: Anything less than disbarment would be an insult to the legal profession.

3:12 – Prosecution:  He did exploit his professional relationship to try to get close to an extremely young sex assault victim. He should have been there to protect JW, but he used alcohol to exploit her.

3:10 – Prosecution: The lies Jeff made to police justify disbarment – what does it say to the public when the minister of justice makes numerous false statements to police?

3:08 – Prosecution: He was involved a sexual assault victim, he knew the perpetrator was a person in a position of authority, much like himself, and he took advantage of a vulnerable young person who’d already been a victim.

3:05 – Prosecution: As a law enforcement official he’s held to a very high standard.

3:03 – Prosecution: He lied, it wasn’t a momentary thing – he learns of the investigation, but waits 4 days before he sets the record straight – We believe it was an attempt to have police not investigate further – We believe lying to the police clearly brings the profession into disrepute.

3:02 – Prosecution: Jeff aknowledged there was a lot of bad publicity. – That does bring this profession into dis-repute.

3:00 – Prosecution: An attorney who exploits his relationship with a crime victim brings the legal administration into to dis-repute.

2:59 – Prosecution: Would a counselor allow two teenage girls stay in a hotel room with him? – We don’t have to prove there was a sexual relationship to prove he over-reached.

2:58 – Prosecution: Consider the frequency of the contacts – More than 1,000 text messages, near daily contact

2:56 – Prosecution: She sends him pictures after he tells her she’s incredibly cute – “I want to take you to San Diego to display more of those moves.” – I don’t think that exchange could be interpreted as a counselor helping a minor.

2:55 – Prosecution: Jeff used alcohol to continue the relationship with JW  who had just turned 17 years old.

2:53 – Prosecution: He chose to get to close to JW and BY – there’s a reference that Jeff had asked JW about another one of her friends and when she turned 18 that he may be interested

2:50 – Prosecution: The attorney is under a duty to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

2:48 – Closing arguments begin – Prosecution first

2:47 – After 10 minutes our 5 minute recess is over.

2:37 – Panel grants a 5 minute recess before closing arguments begin.

2:37 – Judge Braud dismissed and no longer being questioned.

2:36 – Braud: Terronez current standing in the community is poor. – It’s the result of media coverage of this case.

2:35 – Braud: I have not read the criminal complaint – I do know the nature of these charges.

2:34 – Braud: Everybody can fall down, but when you fall from high places it’s easy to see.

2:30 – Braud: We had some big cases together. The people of Rock Island County were well served under Jeff. He was tough but he knew when to be fair.

2:28 – Braud: Predictably I don’t have anything bad to say about Jeff.

2:28 – Judge Walter Braud Circuit Judge 14th Judicial Circuit called to the stand as a character witness.

2:26 – Prosecution asks Terronez if he’s ever presided over teen drinking cases, he says yes he has.

2:25 – Prosecution begins questioning Terronez

2:24 – Defense ends their portion of the questioning.

2:22 – Terronez (sobbing): I don’t believe my regret can be measured. What I’ve done has infected career yes. But it’s devastated my family, personally it will be my forever lasting shame.

2:13 – Defense lawyer is reviewing Terronez’ legal career, essentially discussing his resume/affiliations

2:10 – Terronez: My biggest fear was, I did not my wife to know what really happened for obvious reasons. This has had an adverse effect on my relationship with my wife.

2:07 – Terronez: I knew what I had done, I knew the investigation would be public, I knew my career was over. If it weren’t for my plea agreement I would have resigned anyway. I didn’t give a false statement to avoid prosecution. My number one concern was I was not prepared to own up to my wife about my despicable conduct. It’s not something I was ready to admit, certainly not to her. It seemed as though time flew by.

2:07 – Terronez: There are no other crimes I’ve committed that have not been discovered.

2:05 – Terronez: As a part of my plea agreement I received 2 years probation, fined 2,500 dollars, resigned my position as states attorney, forefitted my pension, I cannot run for public office in the future, and lost my law license on an interim basis

2:04 – Terronez: Delivery of alcohol is the only charge I’ve been found guilty of.

2:02 – Jeff Terronez called back to the stand for questioning. Appears slightly disheveled possibly from allergies.

2:01 – Steven Terronez dismissed and is no longer being questioned.

1:56 – Steven Terronez: There’s not many other people I’d like to be around.

1:56 – Steven Terronez: Since the summer of 2010 he’s very much broken. He sees the pain it’s caused his family. There’s regret every time we speak. I know he feels it all the way down to his soul.

1:55 – Steven Terronez of San Jose, CA, Jeff’s brother called to the stand

1:55 – Recess over – back on the record

1:51 – Terronez returns with a handful of tissues saying he’s got allergies, hay-fever

1:47 – Jeff Terronez asks his lawyer to request a brief recess – panel grants it.

1:46 – JoAnne Reynolds dismissed and longer being questioned.

1:45 – Reynolds: I feel Jeff’s a good man.  He’s honest, and I feel that today I could turn to Jeff if I needed him. – Jeff’s made mistakes, you learn from your mistakes, and I believe Jeff has learned.

1:44 – Reynolds: At one point I wanted to put a gun to my head, but seeing Jeff helped me go on. – I talked to Jeff on a couple of occasions after the trial – I would call him when I had other issues like my son’s divorce – I believe in Jeff.

1:43 – Reynolds: I needed Jeff a lot, I’d go visit him probably every 2 weeks.

1:42 – Reynolds: During the trial of my step daughters killers I met with Jeff regularly. That’s where I got my faith.

1:39 – Joanne Reynolds of East Moline, Step mother of 2005 murder victim Adrianne Reynolds

1:38 – Stella Schneckloth dismissed and no longer being questioned

1:37 – Schneckloth: I’m aware that he allegedly lied to the police. When he worked with the community at large he was always straight.

1:35 – Schneckloth: He’s a fair person, you may not agree with what he had to say, but he had a lot of integrity, but he would never lie or miss lead the families I work with.

1:31 – Schneckloth:Jeff has always been a person of integrity – Jeff comes from a big family and they’re all good people.

1:30 – Stella Schneckloth of Project NOW called to the stand

1:29 – Mr. Brooks is dismissed and no longer being questioned

1:28 – Brooks: After the charges were brought Jeff called me up. He was very remorseful. – Couldn’t ask for a better neighbor.

1:25-  Brooks: I’ve known him all his life – I have a very high regard for Jeff – Prior to the events of summer 2010 his reputation was very good as an attorney and for the truth

1:24 – Lawyer Jack Brooks takes the stand

1:23 – Sgt. Hufford is dismissed and no longer being questioned.

1:23 – Hufford: He’s got a pretty bad reputation right now with the public. The public doesn’t forgive as quickly as long time friends.

1:22 – Hufford: It’s true what I know about this case comes from the media

1:21 – Hufford: I think that he’s been beat up pretty good on all levels. I think he realized right away what he did. And if he ever did it again I’d be very very surprised.

1:21 – Hufford: I would say he was the best around – I drove down to Springfield just to say that

1:18 – Hufford: Terronez has prosecuted several of my cases – on the professional level it was my opinion amongst others that he was the best – he was a very sharp person he’s always been very smart – When he ran for State’s Attorney in Rock Island County he had our FOP [Fraternal Order of Police] backing – To my knowledge that’s the first time we’ve ever done that

1:16 – Hufford: I’ve known Terronez since the 2nd grade.

1:15 – Defense now calling character witnesses – First witness is Rock Island Police Dept Det. Sgt Larry Hufford

1:14 – Both parties are present, lunch break over

12:14: LUNCH BREAK – hearing will resume at 1:15

12:13 – Defense: 3-5 character witnesses lined up IF they all make it to Springfield – also plan to put Terronez back on the stand – no doubt we can’t finish by 5.

12:12 – Prosecutor: Was there substantial publicity on this matter? Terronez: Yes

12:12: Defense objects – overruled – Terronez back to the stand

12:11: Prosecutor one final question for Terronez

12:04 – Panel: Use of news articles denied because of their hearsay/and concerns over elevating evidentiary level

12:03 – Prosecuter: Terronez brought the legal profession into dis-repute

12:02 – Attorneys now arguing over which pieces of evidence will be allowed – defense arguing against using news articles

12:00 – Terronez done testifying – leaves stand

11:59 – During the VanHoutte I referred her to a social worker

11:59 – Judge Carey now asking questions

11:58 – Terronez offers no audible answer to question about attraction to BY

11:58 – Terronez now crying after being asked if he was physically or emotionally attracted to BY – BY was not a minor during this process – denies any attraction to JW who was a minor at the time

11:57 – In suite JW/BY slept on a hide-a-bed – I slept in a different room separated by a door

11:56 – I knew that JW would a part of the trip – I intended to drop them off in Charleston, then go to my  conference

11:55 – Hundreds of requests from JW/BY for alcohol – BY wanted to go Champagne with me, she requested it

11:54 – Defense begins questioning – says it will be brief

11:53 – Prosecutor ends his questioning

11:52 – Terronez showed up to a party at BY’s home BY thanked me because she wanted to shut the party down – it’s possible I went to the party to see BY

11:51 – I’m close personal friends with BY’s uncle

11:50 – Saying I met JW/BY in Champagne by happen-stance was false and I knew it at the time – saying a slept in my SUV in Champagne was false and I knew at the time

11:49 – JW made requests throughout – I’d ignore, I’d say no, I’d say yes but not provide it, and I would provide it at times

11:48 – I knew my statements were false at the time I made them (the ISP interview)

11:47 – Provided alcohol 5 times to BY – 6 to JW

11:44 – Defense: Sexting is not a crime

11:43 – Stopped providing alcohol for girls after heard of investigation from VanHoutte’s attorney

11:42 – BY called me to supply alcohol – could hear people in background – worried that they were telling people – never bought alcohol for BY without JW present

11:40 – Text message from Terronez “Ride him hard and make me proud” – that messages should have concerned me, it did not at the time

11:38 – I’m fully aware that these messages are entirely inappropriate

11:35 – Text message from Terronez “I might be falling in love with you” – Text message from JW “Yay” – I’m 41 it would take a lot more than that to make me fall in love – I was attracted to JW – not physically or intellectually – I was joking

11:34 – Text message from JW “Does that mean more alcohol?” Text message from Terronez “Don’t need the pics that bad” – she wanted more alcohol in exchange for pictures – Text message from Terronez “I’m still amazed by the talent displayed in that pic”

11:34 – She had sent me a picture of herself in a cheerleading pose

11:33 – Text message from Terronez “You really need to give up the boca to your boy” – that was another reference to oral sex with her boyfriend

11:33 – I was joking about sex

11:32 – Text message from Terronez “Can’t believe you won’t go down for your boyfriend” – I was referencing her not performing oral sex for her boyfriend

11:31 – Text message from Terronez “…will enjoy my company when she turns 18. Hook me up girl” – I was using JW to get close to her friends, BY

11:30 – I made it a matter of routine that when I’d buy alcohol she’d have to get it from me, I’d would bring it to her

11:29 – Text message from JW “you’ve bailed on my too much and I’ve done a good job” – not at all referring to VanHoutte case – instead she was proud she was doing a good job with things in her life

11:27 – Text message from JW “I still love you” – did not seem inappropriate – we’d grown close – I did not believe she actually did love me

11:24 – Text message from Terronez “I’m already with my little hottie – I’m out” – little hottie was a fictitious person that did not exist – this sounds absolutely ridiculous but it’s the truth – I wanted to come across at younger and more available – ‘my little hottie’ became a convenient way of avoiding providing alcohol to BY/JW

11:22 – VanHoutte’s attorney received tip about Terronez providing alcohol – advised them to call police – then called Terronez

11:21 – Another time provided alcohol to JW/BY at Hardees/Another time at Mitchell Park

11:19 – BY/JW stood up by friends in Champagne – took girls to a bar and joined them – then spent approx 4 hours alone in hotel room with JW

11:16 – JW and BY stayed in the suite – he also slept in the room – dropped them off at house in Charleston IL – provided alcohol for girls first night in Charleston – 2nd night bought alcohol and took them to a bar in Champagne

11:16 – Stayed in Comfort Inn Suites – had living area and hotel room separated by a door

11:14 – Attending a legal conference in Champagne – picked up BY at her house – asked if her parents would be home – never told JW/BY’s parents he’d be taking them – conference began on Thursday left Wednesday

11:13 – First provided alcohol to JW/BY last week of June or first week of July

11:13 – Attended a party at BY’s house

11:11 – Daily contact between Terronez and JW

11:11 – 400 – 600 text messages a month to JW

11:10 – JW still had some issues she was trying to work through that didn’t end after the case – I was the one person she opened up to – developed into a friendly and casual relationship

11:10 – Met BY at JW’s house

11:09 – VanHoutee sentenced on May 10, Terronez continued to have communications with JW after that date – phone and text messages

11:07 – JW had difficulty appreciating the case she was a part of – wanted her to cooperate

11:06 – Met with JW atleast once a month during VanHoutee case at his office except one at JW’s home

11:05 – VanHoutee and JW had been communicating by text message

11:03 – She was 16 – initially assigned VanHoutee case to an assistant states attorney – then took it over a day or two after he was charged because it may have been more widespread than JW

11:02 – First met JW shortly after VanHoutee was charged in Aug 2009

11:00 – Terronez called to testify – takes stand

11:00 – Hearing resumes

10:51 – Taking 5 minute break – will resume ‘promptly’ at 10:56

10:50 – MSgt C is dismissed

10:49 – Prosecutor redirect interview begins

10:48 – 9 officers involved in investigation

10:47 – Turned over all evidence to Attorney General office because of Terronez position

10:45 – Investigation was not ‘thwarted’ lengthened or made harder by Terronez’ lying during interview

10:43 – Investigation much more intense than a usual misdemeanor case i.e. providing alcohol to a minor

10:41 – Nothing criminal for an adult to meet a 16 year old at a park – not inappropriate

10:40 – Defense questioning begins

10:38 – He never said he purchased alcoholic liquor for them

10:37 – Terronez told BY to deny everything because his life was on the line

10:35 – Told us he did not give them a ride to Champagne – came across them when he was down there for a conference

10:34 – Admitted he switched his facebook page from Married to Single

10:34 – Doesn’t wear ring or talk about family because of occupation/murder threats against him

10:32 – Drove to Champagne with girls and then to Charleston IL to meet with BY’s friends and party

10:30 – Terronez was crying during MSgt C’s interview with him

10:29 – Said he would buy alcohol but he was joking in the text messages

10:27 -’In his [Terronez] opinion maybe he got to close to her’

10:25 – Denied providing alcohol to JW at Mitchell Park

10:24 – Terronez denied giving JW and BY alcohol – Described he was prosecutor and JW was victim – JW was not a very good witness – helped her through the VanHoutee trial and that’s when he got close to here – made a ‘distinct tactical decision to get close to her’

10:22 – Aug 23 2010 interviewed JW – she said Terronez had bought alcohol for her – BY in a separate interview said she and JW had received alcohol from Terronez

10:20 – Voluntarily told MSgt C he had not been buying alcohol for minors

10:20 – Complainant heard about the alcohol buying by overhearing someone talking about it in the UT High School cafeteria

10:19 – EMPD received citizens complaint about Terronez providing acohol

10:17 – Got approximately 10 days worth of text messages – from Aug 13 2010 to Aug 20 2010

10:15 – I sent the US Cellular/Verizon a letter to get a copy of the text messages

10:15 – Costilow: I was asked to investigate Terronez providing alcohol to BY and JW and having an inappropriate relationship with the two of them

10:11 – Judge Gilbert admonishes both prosecutor and defense lawyers to keep it civil and stop interrupting each other

10:10 – Illinois State Police Master Sgt Jerome Costilow is now testifying

10:08 – Since 1997 Jeff is not a person who belongs in the trash chute – he’s learned a lesson and deserves an opportunity to live his life with his family

10:07 – Jeff is there for them and JW eventually started asking for alcohol and Jeff provided it to her

10:07 – It was not unusual for Jeff to stay in touch with crime victims after a hearing is over

10:05 – We’re here to decide whether or not the public needs protection from this man

10:04 – Others have thrived on the innuendo – False statement did not alter case in anyway

10:03 – Jeff has admitted to guilt – taken two years probation – lost his pension – can no longer hold public office and severely damaged his relationship with wife and daughter – been forced to live on the modest salary from his wife

10:01 – Each time he met with JW he took a police officer, an assistant attorney with him with no exceptions

10:00 – He had to communicate with JW by text because she wouldn’t call her back

9:59 – No section of professional code that says you can’t send inappropriate text messages

9:57 – Gave false statement to police because he knew his wife and daughter would hear it from the media – came in a not under oath interview

9:57 – Not justifying his behavior – has not denied he’s violated the professional code of conduct

9:56 – This is all based on innuendo.

9:56 – Defense argument beginning.

9:54 – Tells her she’s cute/he’s in love with here/she looks so good in her cheerleading outfit he can’t think straight/she should be sexually active with her boyfriend and perform oral sex on

9:54 – Once you read the messages you’ll see this is not something an adult should be doing.

9:53 – Not alleging Terronez slept with JW – but are alleging he got too close

9:51 – Last time buy alcohol for JW/BY was August 15th – when he learned from VanHoutee’s attorney that there was an investigation into his activities with the girlsd

9:50 – When you look at the text messages Terronez used the alcohol to help build the relationship with JW and BY

9:48 – We’ll prove 6 occasions when Terronez provided alcohol to JW and BY

9:47 – After VanHoutee’s guilty plea Terronez continued to have frequent contact with with JW – often by text message

9:46 – Terronez had frequent contact with JW – also met JW friend 18 year old B.Y.

9:44 – Prosecuter: Terronez engaged in a pattern of criminal activity with 2 minor girls, one of whom was a sexual assault victim

9:44 – Opening arguments begin

9:41 – Terronez faces a panel of three ‘judges’ – Richard Corkery/John L. Gilbert/Julian C. Carey

9:37 – Prosecutors motion to dismiss witnesses – agreed on by both parties – granted. Any and all witnesses have been dismisses – except Terronez

9:37 – Judges have arrived. We’re begining.

9:30 – Good morning. We’re currently waiting to begin. Jeff Terronez is in the room. Wearing black suit/white shirt/light blue tie.

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