Lasalle National Bank v. County Of Lake

703 F.2d 252 (7th Cir. 1983)


Marc Seidler served as an Assistant State's Attorney in d from 1976 until January 31, 1981. He had general supervisory responsibility with respect to all civil cases handled by the State's Attorney's office. On February 2, 1981, Seidler joined the Chicago law firm of Rudnick & Wolfe as an associate, working in the firm's Northbrook, Illinois office. On June 5, 1981, P sued D and P used Rudnick & Wolfe as its attorneys in the suit. Rudnick & Wolfe has represented P in this matter since January 1976. The representation has included all legal work necessary for implementing the development of the property at issue, including the assembling of parcels of land, annexation, zoning, land planning and obtaining utility services. P charged that Ds' refusal to permit access to a federally funded sewer system was arbitrary and capricious and violated P's rights to substantive and procedural due process, equal protection and just compensation. The Sewage Disposal Agreement was signed prior to Mr. Seidler's association with the State's Attorney's office, and he was not involved in consideration of the validity upon P's property in particular. Seidler was in charge of the legal department and was privy to discussions about the validity of such sewage agreements in general. D alleged that Mr. Seidler had access to various documents and memoranda, in particular an opinion letter about the validity of the Agreement prepared by bond counsel for D and a memorandum expressing the views of one County Board member on the Agreement. Some of these documents were subsequently made public. When D officials requested that the State's Attorney's office prepare a formal legal opinion about the Agreement, Seidler was assigned responsibility for its preparation. The request was subsequently withdrawn and the opinion never written, but Seidler did review the relevant documents in preparation for writing it. D moved to disqualify both Seidler and the entire Rudnick & Wolfe firm. Seidler has submitted a sworn affidavit stating that he has not disclosed to his law firm or any of its personnel any information about the Agreement, about d's legal strategy or about any other matter relevant to the present litigation. Novak, a partner at Rudnick & Wolfe filed an affidavit swearing that Seidler had been screened from all involvement in the litigation since the motion to disqualify was filed. The court disqualified the firm and P appealed.