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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: January 2023

A Profile in Chivalry

Norm Tabler


  • Illinois attorney Jeffrey B. Steinback went to great lengths to protect his wife's honor in a legal case before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.
  • He sought continuances citing medical conditions but couldn't produce any medical records to support hsi contentions.
  • In a second show cause contempt hearing it was revealed that his wife was making up the fabrications but he'd rather face jail time than have the court think negatively about her.
  • Jeffrey was found in contempt and issued a fine, a public reprimand, and a prohibition from appearing before the court without express permission.
A Profile in Chivalry Pavlovic

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If you think that chivalry is dead, consider Illinois attorney Jeffrey B. Steinback’s insistent protection of his wife’s honor.

Jeffrey represented a criminal defendant before the United States District Court  for the Northern District of Iowa. The case was originally scheduled for trial in April 2020, but Jeffrey repeatedly moved for continuances, citing his health, his family’s health, other family issues, COVID restrictions, and birth of a grandson.

After numerous continuances were granted by the Court, Jeffrey reported that his client would plead guilty. The Court then granted Jeffrey’s motion to continue the sentencing hearing. But the day before the rescheduled hearing, the Court received an email from Jeffrey’s office: Jeffrey had been rushed to an emergency room with “violent back spasms and nerve pain.” The email was followed by an emergency motion for continuance, representing that Jeffrey had been “taken to the emergency room and … treated there” and advised not to travel. The Court granted the motion to continue the rescheduled hearing.

The day before the hearing, Jeffrey’s office called to request a continuance on the ground that Jeffrey had been exposed to COVID and needed to self-quarantine.

The Court denied that request, ruling that the hearing would proceed unless Jeffrey tested positive for COVID. Jeffrey responded with an emergency motion, claiming that he had been ordered by his physician to self-quarantine.

When Jeffrey failed to appear, the court rescheduled the hearing and issued a show cause order requiring Jeffrey to show why he shouldn’t be held in contempt and ordering him to produce medical records concerning his back spasms and COVID testing.

At the show cause contempt hearing, Jeffrey provided only a physician’s statement that “patient reports missing a work appointment on 9/24/21 due to back spasms.” The Court was skeptical of Jeffrey’s claim to have been treated in an emergency room and ordered not to travel. It gave Jeffrey 30 days to produce the medical records.

Jeffrey’s response? Well, he explained to the Court, it wasn’t really an ER, more of an urgent care facility.  And, he told the Court, that the facility refused to provide him with any records. But your honor is welcome to examine my back, hip, and other body parts. The Court declined the offer.

After Jeffrey produced no medical records as he had been ordered to do by the Court, it scheduled a second show cause contempt hearing. As expected, the day before the hearing, Jeffrey sought a continuance, citing a history of health problems and claiming that the urgent care facility refused to provide the name of the person who had evaluated him. The Court rescheduled the contempt hearing.

Chivalry Will Out

It was at that hearing that Jeffrey “proved” that chivalry is not dead. He bared his soul. The email and motion claiming that Jeffrey had been rushed to the ER? Jeffrey had known nothing about them!

Then who was responsible? My wife, Jeffrey reluctantly explained. My wife was responsible for the email and motion falsely claiming that I was rushed to the ER. I had no idea she had done such a thing!

Then why, the Court asked Jeffrey, did you continue for month after month to insist on the truth of the (knowingly) false claim?

Because, Jeffrey solemnly intoned,

I’d rather die. … I’d rather your honor throw me into jail than have anybody think anything untoward about my wife

The Court found Jeffrey in civil contempt for defying court orders, lack of candor, and misleading the court. The Court issued a public reprimand in the form of a contempt finding, fined Jeffrey $5,000, and prohibited him from  appearing before it again without the express permission of the Chief Judge.

But let the record show that Jeffrey had defended his wife’s honor to the end! Only when his back was to the wall did he throw her under the bus and claim that she alone was responsible for the months of falsehoods and deception. Jeffrey was as much a victim of his wife’s perfidy as the Court was! But please, Jeffrey begged, after assigning her sole responsibility for the falsehoods, don’t think anything untoward of my wife!

And you thought chivalry was dead.

The case is In Re Jeffrey B. Steinbeck, N.D. Iowa.