Vol. 85, No. 11, November 2012
Disciplinary proceedings against David G. Stokes
The Wisconsin Supreme Court revoked the law license of David G. Stokes, Madison, effective Aug. 17, 2012, and ordered Stokes to pay the cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Stokes, 2012 WI 105.
Stokes consented to the revocation following his 2011 conviction for felony theft. Stokes had billed the State Public Defender for 691 hours of work, which he did not perform, over a four-year period. Stokes converted more than $19,600 in public funds. Stokes also agreed that he could not defend against allegations of misconduct the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) was investigating that involved five grievances and allegations.
Stokes allegedly committed perjury and falsified evidence during a John Doe proceeding; failed to respond to discovery requests and lied to the circuit court during a client's civil malpractice suit against him; acted incompetently during multiple bankruptcy cases pending in the Western District of Wisconsin Bankruptcy Court, including filing false certificates, backdating exhibits, and forging client signatures; and failed to properly represent a client in a foreclosure action, including depositing advanced fees into his business account in violation of trust account rules.
Stokes' misconduct involved violations of SCR 20:1.1, 20:1.3, 20:1.4(b), 20:1.5(a), 20:1.15(b)(4), 20:3.3(a)(1) and (3), 20:3.4(b)-(d), 20:4.1(a)(1), 20:8.4(b)-(c), 21.15 (as enforced via 20:8.4(f)), and 22.03(6) (as enforced via 20:8.4(h)).
Stokes received a private reprimand in 1982 and a public reprimand in 1995. In addition, the supreme court summarily suspended Stokes' law license in September 2011 following his conviction for felony theft.
Disciplinary proceedings against Daynel L. Hooker
On July 18, 2012, acting pursuant to SCR 22.22, the supreme court suspended the law license of Daynel L. Hooker for six months retroactive to March 1, 2011, the effective date of a disciplinary suspension imposed in Colorado. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Hooker, 2012 WI 100. At the time of the misconduct, Hooker lived and practiced in Colorado, where she is not licensed. Colorado permits an attorney to operate a law office in that state even if licensed only in another state as long as the attorney practices solely in matters involving only federal law.
Hooker's misconduct was related to two separate client matters. In the first matter, Hooker was hired to reopen a bankruptcy proceeding that had been dismissed without prejudice. Hooker was able to have the proceeding reopened but failed to file a certificate regarding objections to an amended Chapter 13 plan that she had submitted, failed to appear at a confirmation hearing for the amended plan, and failed to file an amended plan after being ordered by the court to do so. Hooker stipulated that her conduct violated Colorado Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 (competence) and 1.3 (neglect).
The second matter involved Hooker's unlicensed law practice in Colorado. Hooker drafted wills for a husband and wife and counseled the couple on basic estate planning matters. Hooker stipulated that her conduct had violated Colorado Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5(a) (2007 and prior), which indicated that a lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the jurisdiction's regulation of the legal profession. Pursuant to the stipulation, Colorado suspended Hooker's privilege to practice law in Colorado for one year and one day, with six months and one day of that suspension stayed pending her successful completion of a two-year period of probation. The order also imposed several conditions that Hooker was to satisfy as part of her probation.
In 2010, the Wisconsin Supreme Court imposed a six-month reciprocal suspension on Hooker, also based on discipline first imposed in Colorado. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Hooker, 2010 WI 13, 322 Wis. 2d 552, 779 N.W.2d 419.
Public reprimand of James G. Moldenhauer
The OLR and James G. Moldenhauer, Eau Claire, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A supreme court-appointed referee approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on Aug. 30, 2012, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).
As personal representative of his uncle's estate, a man hired Moldenhauer in December 2007 to represent the estate in an informal probate proceeding.
The will was admitted to probate on May 6, 2008. On or about May 5, 2009, Moldenhauer drafted a letter to the register in probate enclosing the estate's final account, receipts, and the personal representative's statement to close.
On or about Aug. 28, 2010, the client looked up the estate on the website of Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA) and discovered the estate was still open. In an email to Moldenhauer on Aug. 28, 2010, the client asked why the case was shown as open. Moldenhauer did not respond. In an email to Moldenhauer on Sept. 16, 2010, the client asked Moldenhauer to provide an email reply that clarified the status of the estate. Moldenhauer did not respond.
Moldenhauer verified the estate had not been closed by checking on the WCCA website. Moldenhauer stated that he subsequently found, behind the credenza in his office, an envelope addressed to the register in probate that had never been mailed. Moldenhauer stated he found the misplaced envelope a day or two before Dec. 15, 2010, and it was sealed, properly addressed, and stamped with postage. Moldenhauer stated he subsequently shredded this envelope according to his office practice. Moldenhauer stated he was under the mistaken belief that the letter to the register in probate dated May 5, 2009, was actually sent, the estate documents were filed, and the estate was closed.
By failing to acknowledge the client's inquiries of Aug. 28, 2010 and Sept. 16, 2010, even for the purpose of informing the client that he would ascertain the status of the estate and report back to the client, Moldenhauer violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(4) and 20:1.3.
Having taken steps to close the estate in December 2010, and knowing that the client had made inquiries regarding case status as early as August 2010, by failing to inform the client of the closure of the estate until doing so in correspondence dated Feb. 21, 2011, Moldenhauer violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(3).
Moldenhauer was previously disciplined. In 1996, he received a private reprimand for violations of SCR 20:1.3, 20:1.4(a), and 20:1.15(b) in a probate matter. In 2006, he received a public reprimand for violating SCR 20:1.3 and 20:1.16(d) in one matter, violating SCR 20:1.16(d) in a second matter, and failing to cooperate with the OLR in its investigation of each matter. In 2008, he received a public reprimand for violating SCR 20:1.3, 20:1.4(a), and 20:3.4(c) in a probate matter.
Public reprimand of Kirk J. Foley
The OLR and Kirk J. Foley, Superior, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A supreme court-appointed referee approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on Sept. 14, 2012, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).
On Jan. 6, 2010, a Carlton County (Minnesota) assistant county attorney informed the OLR of then-pending criminal charges filed against Foley. The ensuing OLR investigation brought to light additional criminal cases against Foley.
By engaging in conduct leading to a criminal conviction on Sept. 13, 2000, of MSD DWI in Minnesota v. Foley, No. 09-TX-00-2559 (Carlton Cnty.), Foley violated SCR 20:8.4(b).
By engaging in conduct leading to a criminal conviction on May 24, 2006, of DWI-operate motor vehicle-alcohol concentration 0.08 within 2 hours in Minnesota v. Foley, No. 09-CR-06-960 (Carlton Cnty.), Foley violated SCR 20:8.4(b). By failing to report this conviction to the OLR and the clerk of the supreme court, Foley violated SCR 21.15(5), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(f).
By engaging in conduct leading to a criminal conviction on March 26, 2010, of operating while under the influence of an intoxicant (4th) in State v. Foley, No. 2009CT000205 (Wis. Cir. Ct. Douglas Cnty.), Foley violated SCR 20:8.4(b).
By engaging in conduct leading to a felony criminal conviction on March 29, 2010, of traffic-DWI-operate motor vehicle under influence of alcohol in Minnesota v. Foley, No. 09-CR-09-3039 (Carlton Cnty.), Foley violated SCR 20:8.4(b).
Foley does not currently practice law. He has successfully completed treatment programs for conditions that contributed to his criminal conduct. The terms of the public reprimand include that he continue treatment.
Foley has no prior discipline.
Disciplinary proceedings against Lisa A. Webber-Hicks
On July 19, 2012, the supreme court ordered that the Wisconsin law license of Lisa A. Webber-Hicks, Oliver Springs, Tenn., be suspended for four years as discipline reciprocal to a Sept. 21, 2011, Tennessee Supreme Court order suspending Webber-Hicks from the practice of law for four years. The Wisconsin order also publicly reprimanded Webber-Hicks as discipline reciprocal to a March 17, 2004, Tennessee Supreme Court order publicly censuring Webber-Hicks, who had practiced in Tennessee under the names Lisa Anne Temple and Lisa Anne Webber. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Webber-Hicks, 2012 WI 101.
The Tennessee suspension order arose out of Webber-Hicks' misconduct in violation of Tennessee Supreme Court Rules 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 3.4(c), 5.5(a), 8.1 and (b), and 8.4(a), (c), (d), and (g). Webber-Hicks practiced law in Tennessee while her Tennessee law license was suspended, misleading clients and others about her suspension. She filed documents, provided legal advice, appeared in court, and received payment for representation. Webber-Hicks also signed her law partner's name on a settlement document without his permission and failed to respond to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility's requests for information regarding her practice during suspension.
The Tennessee censure was for Webber-Hicks' misconduct in violation of DR 1-102(A)(1), (5), (6), DR 2-106(A), (B), DR 7-101(A)(4)(a), (b), (c), and DR 9-102(A), (B) of the former Tennessee Code of Professional Responsibility. Webber-Hicks caused incorrect disbursements to be made from client trust funds to her former law firm for unapproved fees. She also disbursed money from the firm's operating account to cover one of those improper disbursements. She also delayed making disbursements to clients for several months, causing one client to accumulate unnecessary interest.
Webber-Hicks had no prior Wisconsin discipline.