The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

November 30, 2013

Fitting end to sad case

After weighing the case against disgraced prosecutor Jeff Terronez, the Illinois Supreme Court did what it needed to do Wednesday: disbar him.

The punishment fits the crime for the man forced to surrender his job as Rock Island County state’s attorney, his pension and his political aspirations in exchange for a single guilty plea to a misdemeanor count of providing alcohol to a minor.

There was much more going on than that single charge would suggest. But the circumstances are so well known there is no need to restate them here. Clearly, he deserved harsher consequences than the temporary suspensions first recommended by two Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission panels.

Not that we’re celebrating the outcome. It is a sad, sorry tale of the fall of a former Democrat political rising star and the fallout from it will be felt by all the families involved for years to come.

It may one day also become a tale of redemption. For example, disbarment means that after five years Mr. Terronez can ask to get his license back; doing so won’t be easy, but it can be done.

According to the ARDC, the disbarred attorney “may not return to the practice of law unless and until he or she has demonstrated his or her rehabilitation, good character” and understanding of current law in a reinstatement case.

Rather than assuring that he could automatically return to practicing law after serving a very short suspension for his betrayal of the public trust, justices put the onus of proving he deserved to be an officer of the court where it belongs: In Mr. Terronez’s own hands.

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