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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 77, No. 12, December 2004

    Lawyer Discipline

    The Office of Lawyer 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 Milton D. Schierland

    On Oct. 19, 2004, the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted the petition for consensual license revocation filed by Milton D. Schierland pursuant to SCR 22.19. Schierland's petition acknowledged that he could not successfully defend himself against allegations of professional misconduct that included paying bribes to a district attorney on behalf of criminal defendant clients, filing false tax returns, and giving false or misleading information to the court, contrary to SCR 20:1.2(d); 20:8.4(b), (c), and (d); and 20:3.3(a). Schierland's Wisconsin law license had been summarily suspended previously on the basis of his criminal conviction for filing a false tax return. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Schierland, No. 04-2487-D.

    Disciplinary Proceeding against Rodney Thomas Carroll

    By order dated Oct. 19, 2004, the supreme court summarily suspended the Wisconsin law license of Rodney Thomas Carroll of Dubuque, Iowa, effective immediately. The suspension was based on Carroll's guilty plea in Iowa to theft in the second degree and the temporary suspension of Carroll's Iowa law license effective May 7, 2004. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Carroll, No. 04-2055-D.

    Disciplinary Proceeding against Larry Farris

    On Oct. 26, 2004, the supreme court suspended the license of Larry Farris for 60 days, effective Nov. 30, 2004. Farris and the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) stipulated to the facts, misconduct, and level of discipline.

    A continuing legal education (CLE) license suspension on June 3, 2002, is at the heart of the current proceeding. Farris sought reinstatement on July 25, 2002, from that suspension. He indicated in his petition that he had only appeared in one small claims matter during the suspension. Shortly thereafter, during a telephone conversation with OLR personnel, he similarly did not allude to any other acts that would constitute the practice of law during his suspension. However, the OLR later determined that during the CLE suspension Farris had participated in 11 legal matters either by making court appearances or by signing or filing court documents.

    As a result of this misconduct, Farris entered a diversion/alternative to discipline program under SCR 22.10 on Sept. 20, 2002, during which he was not to practice law. However, the OLR later determined that during this diversion program Farris had participated in 12 legal matters. Farris was reinstated to the practice of law on Oct. 6, 2003. During the OLR's subsequent investigation of his prior unauthorized practice during the CLE suspension, Farris gave an incomplete report of its extent.

    Farris violated SCR 31.10(1) by engaging in the practice of law while his State Bar membership was suspended for a CLE violation, which, in turn, is designated misconduct under SCR 20:8.4(f). He violated SCR 20:8.4(c), prohibiting conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, by failing to disclose in his July 2002 petition for reinstatement the exact extent of his prior unauthorized practice. He violated SCR 22.03(6), prohibiting a willful failure to provide information to the OLR during an investigation, which, in turn, is designated misconduct under SCR 20:8.4(f).

    The court imposed a 60-day suspension, effective Nov. 30, 2004, and ordered compliance with the provisions of SCR 22.26 concerning the duties of an attorney whose license to practice law has been suspended. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Farris, 2004 WI 125.

    Disciplinary Proceeding against Hans K. Ribbens

    By order dated Oct. 19, 2004, the supreme court granted Hans K. Ribbens' petition for voluntary revocation of his law license. In his petition, Ribbens, of Sherwood, Wis., acknowledged that he could not successfully defend against 40 counts of misconduct that had been alleged in an OLR complaint and another 21 counts that were under investigation by the OLR. As part of the revocation order, the court adopted the OLR's revised recommendations with respect to restitution and directed Ribbens to make restitution totaling $34,570 to the Clients' Security Fund and three clients within 60 days of the order. Ribbens also was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Ribbens, 2004 WI 126.

    Hearing to Reinstate John Miller Carroll

    On Jan. 28, 2005, at 9 a.m., at the Law Center for Children and Families, 435 S. Yellowstone Drive, Madison, Wis., a public hearing will be held before Referee Judith Sperling Newton on the petition of John Miller Carroll, New London, to reinstate his license. Any interested person may appear at the hearing and be heard in support of, or in opposition to, the petition for reinstatement.

    The supreme court suspended Carroll's license for one year, effective Jan. 10, 2002, for professional misconduct involving multiple trust account, retainer, and fee matters; failure to diligently pursue a client's claim; failure to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter; failure to cooperate with the grievance investigation of the Board of Attorneys Professional Responsibility (BAPR, now the Office of Lawyer Regulation); and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Carroll, 2001 WI 130, 248 Wis. 2d 662, 636 N.W.2d 718.

    While suspended, Carroll was publicly reprimanded for his presuspension conduct in three client matters: for misconduct consisting of neglecting a matter; for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; for providing financial assistance to a client in connection with pending litigation; and for failing to timely return a file to a client.2003-OLR-09.

    Carroll also has received a 1992 private reprimand for failing to hold in trust funds in which both he and his former law firm claimed an interest; a 1997 private reprimand for performing work for a client after his services were terminated and for misrepresenting that he had filed a motion on behalf of the client; and a 1999 public reprimand for neglecting a matter, failing to communicate with a client, and failing to return a retainer.

    Carroll previously petitioned for reinstatement. After a hearing, the referee recommended denial of his petition. Carroll appealed. On March 10, 2004, the supreme court denied Carroll's petition based on deficiencies in Carroll's proof as to several reinstatement requirements, primarily relating to trust accounting issues.

    In the current reinstatement proceeding, Carroll is required to demonstrate by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that, among other things, he has not practiced law during the suspension; he has maintained competence in and learning of the law by attending identified educational activities; 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 on 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, and in general to aid in the administration of justice as a member of the bar and as an officer of the courts; he has fully described all of his business activities during the suspension; and 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.

    Carroll also must demonstrate 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 suspension and with the requirements of SCR 22.26.

    Relevant information may be provided to or obtained from OLR Investigator Mary A. Ahlstrom or OLR Litigation Counsel William J. Weigel, 110 E. Main St., Suite 315, Madison, WI 53703; toll free (877) 315-6941.

    Hearing to Reinstate Thomas E. Zablocki

    On Feb. 16, 2005, at 8:30 a.m., a public hearing will be held before Referee John A. Fiorenza at the Law Office of Halling & Cayo S.C., 320 E. Buffalo St., Suite 700, Milwaukee, Wis., on the petition of Thomas E. Zablocki, Franklin, to reinstate his Wisconsin 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 supreme court suspended Zablocki's license for six months, effective Aug. 10, 1998. The suspension was based on Zablocki's professional misconduct involving failing to maintain a client trust account for several years and to keep required records of his receipts and disbursements of client funds; depositing client funds into several personal checking accounts and commingling them with his own funds; and failing to disburse to a client settlement proceeds he received on her behalf, misrepresenting to the client that she was not entitled to any of the settlement funds, using the balance of those funds for his own purposes, and not promptly delivering a portion of the settlement funds in payment of a health care provider's fee. The referee also concluded that Zablocki failed to respond to inquiries from BAPR into his handling of the settlement proceeds and failed to timely produce or take reasonable steps to obtain and provide bank records requested by BAPR. A more detailed description of Zablocki's misconduct is set forth in Disciplinary Proceedings Against Zablocki, 219 Wis. 2d 313, 579 N.W.2d 233 (1998).

    In 2001, the supreme court publicly reprimanded Zablocki for conduct that occurred after the court suspended Zablocki's license in 1998 but before the effective date of the suspension. At that time, regardless of his imminent suspension from the practice of law, Zablocki filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy action on behalf of a husband and wife despite an obvious conflict of interest due to Zablocki's representation of the wife in a divorce action against the husband. Zablocki failed to obtain the written consent of either the husband or wife to this arrangement. Zablocki also failed to properly and timely notify the clients, the divorce court, and the bankruptcy court of the suspension of his law license and his inability to act in the pending matters; failed to refund any portion of the fee the couple had paid him for the bankruptcy action; and failed to keep complete records of trust accounts funds. A more detailed description of Zablocki's misconduct is set forth in Disciplinary Proceedings Against Zablocki, 2001 WI 115, 247 Wis. 2d 994, 635 N.W.2d 288.

    Zablocki previously filed a petition for reinstatement on Dec. 16, 1998, which was dismissed due to his failure to prosecute the petition.

    To reinstate, Zablocki must demonstrate by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that, among other things, he has not practiced law during the suspension; he has maintained competence in and learning of the law by attending identified educational activities; 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 on 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, and in general to aid in the administration of justice as a member of the bar and as an officer of the courts; he has fully described all of his business activities during the suspension; and 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.

    Zablocki also must demonstrate 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 suspension and with the requirements of SCR 22.26.

    Relevant information may be provided to or obtained from OLR Investigator Mary A. Ahlstrom or OLR Assistant Litigation Counsel Julie M. Falk, 110 E. Main St., Suite 315, Madison, WI 53703; toll free (877) 315-6941.




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