Vol. 76, No. 9, September
Regulation (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.
Disciplinary proceeding against Anne B.
On July 2, 2003, the Wisconsin Supreme Court revoked the Wisconsin
law license of Anne B. Shindell, 51, effective the date of the order.
The court also ordered that Shindell pay the costs of the proceeding.
Shindell formerly practiced in Milwaukee. The court entered the order
upon consideration of Shindell's Petition for Consensual License
Revocation (SCR 22.19), in which she acknowledged that she could not
defend against the misconduct alleged in a complaint filed by the Office
of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) arising out of Shindell's attempted theft by
fraud and resisting or obstructing an officer. In addition, Shindell
conceded that she could not successfully defend against other
allegations of misconduct being investigated by the OLR in 23 additional
grievance investigations. Both the OLR and the referee in the
disciplinary proceeding supported Shindell's petition for
Shindell's disciplinary history included an Oct. 21, 2002, summary
suspension of her law license based on criminal convictions for
attempted theft by fraud and resisting or obstructing an officer and a
December 2002 one-year license suspension for misconduct with respect to
her representation of five clients, Disciplinary Proceedings Against
Shindell, 2002 WI 133,
158 Wis. 2d 63, 654 N.W. 2d 844.
Medical incapacity proceeding against Alan A.
On July 9, 2003, the Wisconsin Supreme Court imposed conditions on
Alan A. Olshan's continued practice of law due to medical incapacity.
Olshan, who practices in Milwaukee, stipulated to the propriety of the
The imposition of conditions upon Olshan's law license resulted from
concerns, beginning in 1999, related to the practice of law, in which
Olshan's ability to perform his profession to acceptable professional
standards was at issue. The supreme court imposed the following
conditions upon Olshan's continued practice of law:
1) Olshan shall meet with his physician for assessment and treatment
at least every three months, and shall submit quarterly assessment
reports to the OLR;
2) Olshan shall provide full medical and informational releases to
the OLR so that OLR staff may communicate with his treating
3) Olshan shall not represent any clients at contested hearings
without cocounsel or represent any criminal defendants in felony matters
without cocounsel; and
4) Olshan shall cooperate with the monitoring of his law practice by
an attorney, acceptable to the OLR, with quarterly reports to be filed
by the monitoring attorney.
Disciplinary proceeding against Michael L.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Michael L.
Rhees, Clinton, Ind. (formerly of Phoenix, Ariz.), for four months,
effective July 9, 2003, as discipline reciprocal to that imposed upon
Rhees by the Arizona Supreme Court in 2001. Rhees stipulated to the
propriety of identical, reciprocal discipline.
The four-month suspension of Rhees's Arizona law license resulted
from Rhees's continued practice of law after the suspension of his
Arizona law license for his failure to submit his Mandatory Continuing
Education (MCLE) affidavit and payment of late fees. After his MCLE
suspension, Rhees remained the attorney of record for 18 clients for
whom he filed three pleadings/motions, attended one hearing, and
remained active in cases for other clients of his law firm. Rhees also
misrepresented to the court that he had untimely filed his MCLE
affidavit in 1998 when, in fact, he had not filed his MCLE affidavit.
Rhees further made misrepresentations to his clients and others
concerning his ability to practice law.
In addition to Wisconsin's reciprocal disciplinary suspension,
Rhees's Wisconsin law license remains suspended for his noncompliance
with CLE requirements.
Disciplinary proceeding against Marvin E.
On July 16, 2003, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered a 60-day
suspension of the Wisconsin law license of Marvin E. Marks, 46,
Ironwood, Mich., effective Aug. 20, 2003. Marks is admitted to practice
in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Marks was retained by members of a Wisconsin family to pursue claims
stemming from an automobile accident occurring in Wisconsin. The adverse
driver was a Michigan resident. Two separate contingent fee agreements
were executed in connection with the multiple claims, each of which
called for a fee of 25 percent of any recovery unless the matter went to
trial, in which case the fee would be one-third of any recovery. Each of
the contingent fee agreements also contained the following
"If for any reason, the Attorney-Client relationship was to be
terminated prior to settlement, compromise, or judgment, etc., without
good cause on client's behalf, the client hereby agrees to pay attorney
for the value of legal services received by the client ... on an hourly
rate schedule of $100.00 per hour plus expenses ..."
Marks diligently took initial steps to advance the cases, but prior
to resolution and within two weeks of having hired Marks, the clients
elected to transfer the cases to successor counsel, a Wisconsin
Following termination of his representation, knowing that the
contingent fee agreements provided for an hourly-based fee under such
circumstances, Marks falsely stated in letters to two insurance
companies involved in the matters that he maintained a 25 percent lien
on any settlement proceeds. In its decision in the disciplinary action,
the supreme court stated, "Such a representation is simply contrary to
the express terms of the fee agreement." Marks violated SCR 20:8.4(c),
which prohibits conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or
Marks filed a suit in Michigan against successor counsel, the former
clients, and the insurers, alleging interference with contract and
asserting a "charging lien." Pursuant to the choice of law provisions in
SCR 20:8.5, the OLR's complaint in the disciplinary action alleged that
Marks' complaint and amended complaint in the Michigan suit violated the
Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct (MRPC) that prohibits frivolous
claims. The OLR further alleged that Marks violated the MRPC prohibition
against dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation by claiming in
the Michigan suit that a client billing statement had not been paid,
when in fact it had. The referee in the disciplinary action determined
that the OLR lacked authority to enforce the MRPC, and dismissed the
counts charging MRPC violations. Describing the issue as one of first
impression, the supreme court concluded that the referee had erred in
dismissing the MRPC counts, and it held "that SCR 20:8.5 authorizes the
OLR to proceed with a complaint alleging violations of the Michigan
Rules of Professional Conduct for alleged misconduct that occurred in a
proceeding before a court in the state of Michigan." The court, however,
determined that judicial efficiency would not be advanced by a remand to
the referee for consideration of the alleged MRPC violations.
Marks' prior Wisconsin discipline consisted of a 1992 private
reprimand, a 1994 public reprimand, and a 1999 private reprimand.
Disciplinary proceeding against Francia M.
On July 2, 2003, the Wisconsin Supreme Court revoked the law license
of Francia M. Evers, 51, Milwaukee, effective that day. In addition, the
court dismissed as moot the OLR's Jan. 9, 2003, motion for the temporary
suspension of Evers' license, pursuant to SCR 22.21(1) (threat to the
public). That motion was based upon conversions, other serious trust
account irregularities, and an apparent gambling problem. Evers had
opposed the motion.
The revocation was based upon Evers' petition for consensual
revocation. In that petition, she indicated that, "due to her emotional
health and financial stressors," she could not successfully defend
against the allegations in an amended disciplinary complaint or against
additional matters being investigated by the OLR. While concerned about
Evers' refusal to admit to the accuracy of all of the allegations
against her, the court, with one dissent (Bradley, J.), accepted Evers'
concession that she could not successfully defend herself.
The OLR's misconduct summary alleged that Evers converted more than
$4,900 from a client she represented in a discrimination claim (SCR
20:8.4(c)); failed to hold in trust funds that had been advanced by that
client for costs (SCR 20:1.15(a)); failed to promptly refund unearned
fees and costs (SCR 20:1.15(b)); failed to reduce her contingent fee
agreement in that matter to writing (SCR 20:1.5(c)); and misrepresented
to the OLR how the cost advance had been handled (SCR 22.03(b)).
The OLR's summary further alleged that in June of 2001, at a casino,
Evers gave a $1,100 check, drawn on her law office's business account,
to an acquaintance in exchange for cash. Such exchanges between the two
had occurred in the past. Evers stopped payment on the check, and the
acquaintance commenced a small claims action, which culminated in the
issuance of a body attachment against Evers. By failing to comply with
court orders requiring her to appear and to pay the judgment, and by
keeping funds that did not belong to her, Evers engaged in conduct
involving dishonesty (SCR 20:8.4(c)).
The OLR's summary further alleged that Evers also failed to hold in
trust and converted to her own purposes funds advanced for costs in a
bankruptcy proceeding (SCR 20:1.15(a) and SCR 20:8.4(c)); that in an
unrelated bankruptcy, she made misrepresentations to the court regarding
the client's payment of the filing fee (SCR 20:3.3(a)(1)); and that
Evers issued a $585 check to the bankruptcy court to pay filing fees in
three bankruptcies when she knew it was likely that there were
insufficient funds to cover that check (SCR 20:8.4(c)).
In addition to those matters, OLR was investigating Evers for
multiple conversions of client funds (SCR 20:8.4(c)), including $8,755
in a probate matter; $4,694 in a post-divorce matter; $2,422 in a
discrimination matter; $6,421 in two personal injury matters; and $7,727
in a worker's compensation matter. The OLR also was investigating Evers'
commingling of trust funds into her business account (SCR 20:1.15(e));
unexplained cash withdrawals of more than $23,000 from her trust account
and unexplained telephone transfers of more than $21,000 from her trust
account to her business account (SCR 20:1.15(a)); dishonesty with
respect to fees owed to cocounsel in a criminal matter (SCR 20:8.4(c));
failure to hold in trust a $4,000 payment of costs in a discrimination
matter (SCR 20:1.15(d)); failure to comply with court orders in an
action brought against her by an expert witness in that case, resulting
in a bench warrant (SCR 20:3.4(c)); and engaging in conduct involving
dishonesty and conflicts of interest relating to her obtaining $50,000
from a man she had represented (SCR 20:8.4(c) and SCR 20:1.8).
The court's order revoking Evers' law license based upon her petition
followed by only two days the referee's report recommending revocation
in the underlying disciplinary action. The OLR is seeking an assessment
against Evers for the costs of that proceeding.
Disciplinary proceeding against Elvis C.
On July 16, 2003, the Wisconsin Supreme Court revoked the law license
of Elvis C. Banks, 41, Milwaukee, effective that day. In addition, the
court ordered that Banks pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding.
The court also dismissed Banks' petition for consensual revocation,
concluding that its acceptance of the referee's recommendation of
license revocation made it unnecessary to rule on the petition.
The revocation was based upon Banks' pleading no contest to "each and
every allegation" in the OLR's amended complaint and upon a referee's
recommendation after a contested sanction hearing. The misconduct
included a total of 42 counts in approximately 20 separate client
matters. In nine civil actions and one bankruptcy matter, Banks failed
to provide competent representation to his clients (SCR 20:1.1). In
seven of those matters, he also failed to act with reasonable diligence
(SCR 20:1.3). In one of the matters, he failed to communicate with the
client, and in another, he commenced suit without notice to the client
(SCR 20:1.4(a)). His lack of competence and neglect resulted in the
dismissal of at least six of the matters.
One of the civil matters involved Banks' actions as guardian ad litem
for three minors. He filed three separate petitions for settlement
approval in their case, thereby unnecessarily incurring two extra filing
fees. Inasmuch as the proposed settlements would have netted one child
with 20 cents, the second with 10 cents, and the third with a negative
$457, the court barred Banks from taking fees. While the court ordered
him to pay the settlement proceeds to the clerk of courts, the order
that he drafted failed to include that requirement, and he ultimately
failed to comply with it (SCR 20:3.4(c)). Finally, in May of 2001, Banks
met with four circuit court judges, who expressed their concerns to him
about his law practice.
When the judges questioned him about his handling of the three minor
settlements, he falsely stated that he had invested the proceeds in a
mutual fund (SCR 20:8.4(c)). The funds were not invested until more than
two weeks later. During the OLR's investigations, Banks also
acknowledged that he had not placed his contingent fee agreements in
writing (SCR 20:1.5(c)).
In addition to those matters, Banks agreed to file a petition on
behalf of a client but never did so (SCR 20:1.3). Banks employed an
individual, described as a former "jailhouse lawyer," who apparently
sent the client a letter on Banks' letterhead, requesting $500. The
client sent the $500 to Banks' office and the employee purportedly
pocketed the money. During the investigation, Banks indicated that this
employee "often sent out letters like this" and kept retainers (SCR
When the OLR commenced an audit of Banks' trust and business
accounts, and analyzed account activity for the first eight to 10
transactions, it was discovered that Banks had mishandled client funds
in virtually every case. In eight matters, he deposited settlement
proceeds into his trust account and transferred them to his business
account (SCR 20:1.15(a)). In seven of those matters, he converted at
least $12,950 to his own purposes (SCR 20:8.4(c)).
Banks generally distributed proceeds to the clients from his business
account, but then converted to his own purposes whatever portion of the
settlement he had not distributed to the client, including funds to
which care providers were entitled. He apparently reimbursed some of the
care providers after the OLR began its investigation. In one audited
matter, Banks represented a mother and her minor daughter regarding a
personal injury matter. He converted $2,098.75 from the mother's
settlement, which is included in the above-referenced $12,950. However,
he failed to disclose the location of the daughter's $1,185.25
settlement to the OLR during the investigation, despite the fact that
the court had ordered him to place those funds in a restricted account
The OLR audit also revealed that Banks was not maintaining the
required records for his trust account (SCR 20:1.15(e)), and that he had
falsely certified in his annual dues statements that he was maintaining
those records (SCR 20:1.15(g)).