An attorney who once helped his adult children sue their mother for emotional damages because of a poorly chosen birthday card and a subpar homecoming dress now faces disciplinary action for writing the same two children into an elderly client’s will and allegedly stealing nearly $500,000 from the client’s estate.
Steven Miner, a Barrington attorney who filed a “bad mothering” lawsuit against his ex-wife on behalf of his son and daughter in 2009, is accused by Illinois’ attorney disciplinary body of violating attorney rules by drafting a will for a client that benefited Miner’s own family as well as stealing money from the client.
His attorney, George Collins, said Miner denies the disciplinary charges and plans to contest them.
“He didn’t steal any money,” Collins said. “He didn’t do anything wrong.”
The disciplinary matter arose from Miner’s relationship with client Glenn Burren that dated to the 1970s. Miner dated Burren’s daughter for a time, and later Burren dated Miner’s mother, according to an appeals court ruling. Miner remained close with Burren, calling him “Pops,” the court said.
In 2004, Burren signed a typewritten will handed to him by Miner after attending a birthday party for Miner’s son, according to the ruling. Under the will, 40 percent of Burren’s estate went to Miner’s two children and the rest to Burren’s three children, the court said.
Later, Burren signed papers giving Miner power of attorney and handed over to the lawyer checks totaling nearly $500,000.
After Burren’s death in 2007, his children contested the will filed by Miner and later took the attorney to court to recover the $500,000 that had vanished from their father’s estate.
Miner told a Cook County judge that he cashed the checks at his bank and then returned the cash to Burren, but Judge Susan Coleman didn’t buy it, saying Miner had presented “no independent credible evidence” that he returned the money.
The judge ordered Miner to repay the estate nearly $500,000 plus more than $200,000 in interest. An appeals court recently upheld that ruling.
Miner was previously disciplined by the state in 1998 after forging the names of the children of a client on a property deed and instructing his wife to notarize it.
Miner’s 2009 lawsuit against his ex-wife alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress on their children for offenses including failing to take their daughter to a car show and telling their son when he was 7 to buckle his seat belt or she would contact the police.
After two years of litigation, an appeals court dismissed the lawsuit, finding that ruling in favor of the children “could potentially open the floodgates to subject family child rearing to … excessive judicial scrutiny and interference.”
‘Bad mothering’ attorney faces state discipline
Court ruled Barrington lawyer bilked client of $500,000
August 11, 2013
The Chicago Tribune