Vol. 76, No. 7, July
The Office of Lawyer
(formerly known as the Board of Attorneys Professional
Responsibility), an agency of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and component
of the lawyer regulation system, assists the court in carrying out its
constitutional responsibility to supervise the practice of law and
protect the public from misconduct by persons practicing law in
Wisconsin. The Office of Lawyer Regulation has offices located at Suite
315, 110 E. Main St., Madison, WI 53703, and Suite 300, 342 N. Water
St., Milwaukee, WI 53202. Toll-free telephone: (877) 315-6941.
against Robert L. Taylor
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has accepted Robert L. Taylor's petition
for voluntary revocation of his law license and revoked his law license
Dec. 14, 1992. In his petition, Taylor, of Milwaukee, acknowledged that
he could not successfully defend against allegations of misconduct in
four matters that were under investigation by the Office of Lawyer
Regulation (OLR). These allegations pertained to Taylor's federal
criminal conviction for embezzling client funds, and other misconduct
committed while representing clients. During these representations,
Taylor practiced law while his law license was administratively
suspended, charged an illegal or a clearly excessive fee, neglected a
legal matter, failed to promptly pay or deliver to the client funds in
Taylor's possession that his client was entitled to receive, and failed
to return unearned fees.
Public reprimand of Ann Cahill
The OLR and Ann Cahill Kiefer (formerly Ann Cahill Hammer), 42,
Stevens Point, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public
reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A referee appointed by the supreme
court thereafter approved the agreement, and issued the public reprimand
on May 28, 2003, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).
On Oct. 7, 2002, Kiefer was convicted in Portage County Circuit Court
of felony fifth offense operating while intoxicated and two counts of
felony bail jumping for drinking in defiance of bail conditions. Kiefer
violated SCR 20:8.4(b), which states that it is professional misconduct
for an attorney to "commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the
lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other
respects." Kiefer properly self-reported her conviction as required
under SCR 21.15(5).
Kiefer previously was the subject of a disciplinary action that led
to a six-month license suspension and imposition of conditions related
to alcoholism following any reinstatement from the suspension.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Cahill, 219 Wis. 2d 330, 579
N.W.2d 231 (1998). In that case, Kiefer was found to have engaged in
criminal conduct, some of which was causally linked to alcoholism.
Kiefer has not petitioned for reinstatement from the license
Disciplinary proceeding against James
By order dated May 28, 2003, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly
reprimanded James Paul O'Neil, 40, Green Bay, for revealing information
relating to his representation of a client without the client's consent,
contrary to SCR 20:1.6.
In 1999, O'Neil was retained by a man to file a divorce action. Five
days after O'Neil was retained, the client's wife was found dead. When
O'Neil was contacted by the police, O'Neil discussed his representation
of the client and, at the officer's request, agreed to jot down notes on
any future conversations he had with the client. O'Neil did not request
the client's consent to provide information to the police.
In connection with the criminal investigation, the circuit court
issued a subpoena that "requested" O'Neil's file on the client. O'Neil
did not invoke the attorney-client privilege and turned over the entire
case file to the police, including notes, bank account records and other
financial information. O'Neil also was involved in a second police
interview in which he discussed the client's divorce, and he granted
police investigators permission to talk with his secretary regarding her
contacts with the client. The client ultimately was charged
with and convicted of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of
In mitigation of O'Neil's misconduct, the referee in the disciplinary
action noted that prior to the client's murder trial, the district
attorney agreed to not use any information received from O'Neil at
trial, nor was O'Neil or any member of his staff called as a witness at
trial. The referee noted O'Neil's assertion that he was trying to help
the client by divulging information showing that the divorce was
amicable, and that he didn't realize he was violating SCR 20:1.6 when he
made disclosures to the police.
The supreme court adopted the referee's report and recommendation,
which concluded that although O'Neil's law license previously had been
suspended for 12 months, the violation committed in the current case was
unrelated to the violations in the prior case and did not appear to
exhibit a pattern of misconduct. Further, there was no need to protect
the public because O'Neil indicated he now understands the requirements
of SCR 20:1.6 and will conduct his practice accordingly.
Disciplinary proceeding against Jane
On May 28, 2003, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law
license of Jane Edgar, 44, Milwaukee, for one year, ordered Edgar to
make restitution of unrefunded fees or costs to four former clients in
an aggregate amount of $4,625, and placed conditions upon any
reinstatement of Edgar's law license. Edgar's license was already under
suspension, having been suspended for two years effective March 22,
1999. See Disciplinary Proceedings Against Edgar, 230
Wis. 2d 205, 601 N.W.2d 284 (1999).
In the current case, Edgar stipulated to the misconduct charged by
the OLR, much of which was committed during the course of Edgar's
handling of six client matters between 1996 and 1999, and some of which
involved the same client matters for which Edgar was earlier suspended.
Edgar's misconduct consisted of failing to take reasonably practicable
steps to protect her client's interests, in violation of SCR 20:1.16(d)
(six counts); failing to keep her client reasonably informed or to
comply with the client's reasonable requests for information, in
violation of 20:1.4(a) (five counts); failing to act with reasonable
diligence in representing a client, in violation of SCR 20:1.3 (four
counts); failing to cooperate with grievance investigations, in
violation of former SCR 21.03(4) and former SCR 22.07(3) (five counts);
failing to render a full accounting in connection with a fee advance, in
violation of SCR 20:1.15(b) (one count); practicing law while under CLE
administrative suspension for three weeks, in violation of SCR 31.10(1)
(one count); and failing to obtain a written conflict waiver, in
violation of SCR 20:1.7(a) (one count).
The court adopted the parties' suggestion that the one-year license
suspension be imposed with a retroactive commencement date of March 21,
2001, the date Edgar's previous two-year license suspension ended. The
practical effect equates to the court having imposed an aggregate
three-year license suspension for Edgar's cumulative misconduct.
In addition to ordering Edgar to make restitution of unrefunded fees
or costs in the amounts proposed by the OLR, the court also, per the
parties' stipulation, ordered that any reinstatement of Edgar's law
license shall be conditioned upon Edgar demonstrating that she has her
depression and any other emotional or psychological problems under
control, by her submission to an independent medical examination by a
healthcare provider approved by the OLR, at her own expense; that her
licensure following reinstatement be conditioned on her remaining in
recommended treatment, monitored by the OLR via quarterly reports for
two years following reinstatement; and that Edgar's practice of law be
monitored by an attorney approved by the OLR for two years following
reinstatement, with certain exceptions.
Disciplinary proceeding against John
On May 8, 2003, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license
of John C. Widule, 48, Elm Grove, for six months. Subsequent to its
disciplinary order, and without objection from the OLR, the court
ordered that Widule's suspension would commence June 27, 2003. Widule
also was ordered to pay the $11,502.42 costs of the disciplinary
The events giving rise to the misconduct counts against Widule are
detailed within the court's 25-page disciplinary order. Essentially,
Widule was found by a trial court and on appeal to have commenced and
maintained a malicious and frivolous civil action, was ordered by the
circuit court in that underlying litigation to pay a significant
monetary sanction, and failed to do so.
In the disciplinary proceeding, the referee found that Widule had
knowingly advanced a factual position without a basis for doing so that
was not frivolous, contrary to SCR 20:3.1(a)(2); that Widule had a
conflict of interest when arguing a position favorable to one client at
the expense of another client without securing written consent, contrary
to SCR 20:1.7(b); and that Widule failed to provide competent
representation by failing to research legal issues such as "accord and
satisfaction," "waiver," and "estoppel," before commencing a lawsuit
that ultimately was found to be frivolous; and that Widule's lack of
competency violated SCR 20:1.1.
Widule appealed from the referee's report and the referee's
recommendation for a three-month license suspension. The supreme court
adopted the referee's findings of fact and conclusions of law, but
imposed a six-month license suspension.
Widule had no prior discipline.
Hearing to reinstate Kevin M.
On Sept. 23, 2003, at 9 a.m., a public hearing will be held before
referee Kim M. Peterson at the Office of Lawyer Regulation, 342 N. Water
St., Suite 300, Milwaukee, on the petition of Kevin M. Kelsay of
Milwaukee to reinstate his law license. Any interested person may appear
at the hearing and be heard in support of or in opposition to the
petition for reinstatement.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended Kelsay's law license for three
years, effective June 4, 1990, for misconduct consisting of neglecting
legal matters entrusted to him by clients; failing to communicate
adequately with clients; failing to deposit client funds in a trust
account; failing to produce trust account records during an
investigation into his conduct; engaging in conduct involving
dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; failing to return
clients' files; failing to return unearned fees; and failing promptly to
pay funds of a client as directed by the client. A more detailed account
of Kelsay's misconduct is recited in Disciplinary Proceedings
Against Kelsay, 155 Wis. 2d 480, 455 N.W.2d 871 (1990).
As to reinstatement, Kelsay is required to establish by clear,
satisfactory, and convincing evidence that, among other things, he has
not practiced law or engaged in certain law-work activity during his
suspension; his conduct since the suspension has been exemplary and
above reproach; he has a proper understanding of and attitude toward the
standards that are imposed upon members of the bar and will act in
conformity with the standards; he can safely be recommended to the legal
profession, the courts, and the public as a person fit to be consulted
by others and to represent them and otherwise act in matters of trust
and confidence; he has fully described all of his business activities
during the suspension; and that he has made restitution to or settled
all claims of persons injured or harmed by his misconduct or, if not,
has explained his failure or inability to do so.
Moreover, Kelsay has the burden of demonstrating by clear,
satisfactory, and convincing evidence that he has the moral character to
practice law in Wisconsin, that his resumption of the practice of law
will not be detrimental to the administration of justice or subversive
of the public interest, and that he has fully complied with the terms of
the 1990 suspension order and with the requirements of SCR 22.26.
Further information may be obtained from OLR investigator Rachel
Nadel, 342 N. Water St., Suite 300, Milwaukee, WI 53202, (877) 315-6941
(toll free), or from the OLR's retained counsel, Charles S. Blumenfield,
735 N. Water St., Suite 1200, P.O. Box 611, Milwaukee, WI 53201, (414)