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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 77, No. 8, August 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.

    Hearing to Reinstate Donald J. Harman

    On Sept. 28, 2004, at 10 a.m., a public hearing will be held before Referee Russell Hanson at the La Crosse County Courthouse, 333 Vine Street, La Crosse, Wis., on the petition of Donald J. Harman, La Crosse, 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 Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended Harman's license for six months, effective Aug. 1, 2001, based on Harman's commission of multiple acts of professional misconduct consisting of: 1) endorsing a settlement check without authorization to do so; 2) failing to provide prompt written notice that he was holding funds to which another was entitled, and failing to deliver those funds; 3) holding funds in trust in which he had a partial interest and thereafter making trust disbursements prior to an agreed severance of interest in the funds; 4) undertaking a case despite having a conflict of interest; 5) intentionally and without authorization revealing sensitive information relating to his representation of a client; 6) arranging for a meeting in violation of a no-contact order; 7) using information related to his representation of a former client to her disadvantage during his representation of a different client; and 8) using information related to his representation of a former client to her disadvantage by sending her medical records to various persons in an effort to undermine his former client's credibility. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Harman, 2001 WI 71, 244 Wis. 2d 438, 628 N.W.2d 362. The six-month suspension was Harman's fourth instance of receiving professional discipline.

    As to reinstatement, Harman is required to demonstrate by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that, among other things, 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 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; he has the moral character to practice law in Wisconsin; and he has fully complied with the terms of the suspension order and with the requirements of SCR 22.26.

    An earlier reinstatement petition filed by Harman was denied by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2003, based on the court's determination that Harman failed to prove that his resumption of the practice of law will not be detrimental to the administration of justice or subversive of the public interest. Disciplinary Proceedings against Harman, 2003 WI 45, 261 Wis. 2d 322, 661 N.W.2d 403.

    Further information may be obtained from either Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) Investigator Kay Sievers, 110 E. Main St., Suite 315, Madison, WI 53703-3383, (877) 315-6941 (toll free); or from OLR Retained Counsel Robert G. Krohn, 24 N. Henry St., P.O. Box 151, Edgerton, WI 53534-0151, (608) 884-3391.

    Disciplinary Proceeding against Eric A. Stearn

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court accepted Eric A. Stearn's petition for voluntary revocation of his law license and revoked his law license effective June 8, 2004. Stearn's license was summarily suspended on Nov. 7, 2003, based on his criminal convictions of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and causing great bodily harm by intoxicated use of a vehicle. In his petition, Stearn acknowledged that he could not successfully defend against the misconduct allegations, which included the OLR's assertion that Stearn's criminal convictions constituted conduct that reflects adversely on Stearn's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, contrary to SCR 20:8.4(b). Disciplinary Proceedings against Stearn, No. 04-1183-D.

    Public Reprimand of Scott F. Anderson

    On June 5, 2004, a referee appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to review an SCR 22.09 agreement for imposition of a public reprimand approved the agreement and publicly reprimanded Scott F. Anderson, 50, Milwaukee.

    The reprimand was based on Anderson's misconduct in three matters. In the first matter, Anderson agreed to represent a couple in pursuing a personal injury action, made initial efforts in the matter, and assured his clients that he would file suit. However, once the couple moved out of state, Anderson did not pursue the claim further and did not respond to their telephone calls seeking information. Anderson's failure to communicate with his clients violated SCR 20:1.4(a). Anderson decided that there was an insufficient basis to pursue the claim, but failed to inform his clients of his opinion. The clients did not learn that Anderson would not be filing suit until after the statute of limitation had run. Anderson's conduct constituted neglect in violation of SCR 20:1.3. Further, Anderson's failure to advise his clients of his legal opinion that their case lacked merit so that they had the opportunity to seek other counsel or pursue the matter pro se violated SCR 20:1.4(b) in that Anderson failed to explain the matter to the extent necessary to permit his clients to make an informed decision regarding the representation.

    In the second matter, Anderson represented a client in a personal injury action. The suit was filed in Georgia, where the incident occurred and Anderson was admitted pro hac vice. After Anderson failed to timely respond to discovery requests, the court ordered him to retain local counsel. Anderson did not comply with the court's order. Based on Anderson's failure to comply with its order to associate with local counsel, the court removed Anderson and dismissed the claim against one of the defendants. Anderson's conduct constituted neglect, in violation of SCR 20:1.3, and failure to obey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal, in violation of SCR 20:3.4(c).

    In the third matter, the State Public Defender (SPD) appointed Anderson for a probation revocation appeal. Anderson filed a writ of certiorari in circuit court. Anderson requested an extension of time to file a brief pursuant to a briefing schedule established by the court, but then failed to meet the deadline. Anderson failed to respond to the state's motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution, resulting in the court's grant of the motion and dismissal of the writ. Anderson's failure to file the brief and failure to respond to the state's motion constituted a lack of diligence, in violation of SCR 20:1.3. Anderson did not inform his client of the dismissal or respond to the client's requests for information regarding the status of the writ. When the client learned that the writ had been dismissed, he requested that Anderson return the revocation hearing transcript to him. Anderson did not respond to the client, but turned his file over to the SPD. Anderson's failure to communicate with his client and respond to his requests for information violated SCR 20:1.4(a).

    Anderson received a private reprimand in August 1999 for similar misconduct. The reprimand resulted from Anderson's neglect of a client's false imprisonment claim. Anderson failed to file suit in the matter and did not inform his client that no lawsuit had been filed.

    Disciplinary Proceeding against Albert J. Armonda

    On June 29, 2004, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Albert J. Armonda, 67, Burlington, for six months, commencing Aug. 3, 2004. Disciplinary Proceedings against Armonda, 2004 WI 82.

    The suspension is based on Armonda's misconduct in four matters. In the first matter, Armonda appeared in at least four matters while his license was suspended for failure to pay 2002 State Bar dues and supreme court assessments, in violation of SCR 10.03(6) and 20:8.4(f). He also failed to cooperate with the investigation of the matter, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(f) and 22.03(6). In the second matter, Armonda charged an unreasonable fee in a bankruptcy proceeding, in violation of SCR 20:1.5(a), and failed to fully disclose the fees he had received in connection with the bankruptcy, thereby knowingly disobeying an obligation under the rules of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(f). Armonda also failed to cooperate with the OLR investigation of the matter, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(f) and 22.03(6). With regard to the third matter, Armonda was unaware of a statute requiring that all children born to a woman during a marriage be disclosed in a petition for divorce and failed to accurately disclose the number of children born to his client, in violation of SCR 20:1.1. In the final matter, Armonda failed to respond to the OLR's request for a written response pertaining to alleged misconduct within 20 days, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(f) and 22.03(2).

    Armonda previously incurred a 60-day disciplinary suspension. Disciplinary Proceedings against Armonda, 2003 WI 136.

    Disciplinary Proceeding against Mary Kathleen Arthur

    On June 9, 2004, the supreme court suspended the law license of Mary Kathleen Arthur, 52, Lake Geneva, for 90 days, effective July 14, 2004, based on Arthur's misconduct in two separate matters.

    In the first matter, Arthur represented a parts supplier in a lawsuit against a manufacturer and certain other parties. There had been previous related litigation, and the trial court dismissed the action filed by Arthur, finding it barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel, adding that the pleading stated no claims on which relief could be granted. Arthur appealed on behalf of her clients, and the court of appeals reversed in part, and remanded for further consideration of some of the claims. On remand, the defendants moved for summary judgment.

    In opposition to the motion for summary judgment Arthur submitted an affidavit executed by her husband, attorney Ronald Arthur, which the court of appeals later found to contain "unsupported inferences" and "pure speculation." The trial court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment and also found Arthur's claims "objectively frivolous." The trial court assessed costs against Arthur in the amount of $24,380.59. Arthur appealed again and the court of appeals affirmed, agreeing that the record supported the trial court's finding that the lawsuit was frivolous, and that it was continued in bad faith for purposes of harassment.

    In the disciplinary proceeding, the supreme court found that by filing a lawsuit alleging conspiracy and misconduct in plaintiff's and opposing counsel's prosecution of a prior civil action, when her filing or continuation of the suit was based on an affidavit that contained speculation and unreasonable inferences, Mary Kathleen Arthur filed a lawsuit, asserted a position, conducted a defense, delayed trial, or took other action on behalf of a client, when she knew or it was obvious that such an action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another, in violation of SCR 20:3.1(a)(3).

    In a separate, unrelated matter, Arthur's husband, Ronald Arthur, had a judgment, including $75,000 in punitive damages, entered against him in a civil lawsuit. Ronald Arthur then submitted this judgment as a claim to his insurance company. The insurance company filed an action against Ronald Arthur and the opposing party seeking a declaratory judgment that it was not liable. Representing her husband, Arthur filed a cross-claim against the opposing party, impleaded opposing counsel as third-party defendants, and, despite the circuit court's previous findings to the contrary, alleged that the opposing party and her attorneys had engaged in conspiracy and extortion. The circuit court decision was later affirmed and Arthur's cross-claim was dismissed.

    In the disciplinary proceeding, the supreme court found that, by filing a cross-claim and a third-party complaint against the opposing party and her attorneys that alleged their purported fraud and conspiracy, despite previous trial court findings to the contrary, Arthur filed a lawsuit, asserted a position, conducted a defense, delayed trial, or took other action on behalf of a client when she knew or it was obvious that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another, in violation of SCR 20:3.1(a)(3). Disciplinary Proceedings against Arthur, 2004 WI 66.

    Revocation of Joseph F. Paulus

    On June 8, 2004, the supreme court granted the petition for consensual license revocation filed by Joseph F. Paulus pursuant to SCR 22.19. In the petition, Paulus submitted that under SCR 22.19(2) he could not successfully defend himself against the misconduct allegations of an OLR investigation, which were based upon his guilty plea to a federal count of accepting bribes totaling approximately $48,050 while holding the office of Winnebago County District Attorney in exchange for benefits to defendants, including the dismissal or reduction of charges, return of seized property, and a request that another district attorney give lenient treatment to a defendant, as well as an additional federal count of filing a 1999 Form 1040 income tax return on which Paulus knowingly underreported his income for that year. Paulus's conduct in accepting bribes in public office, making misrepresentations to the court, and filing a knowingly false income tax return were in violation of SCR 20:1.7(b), conflict of interest; SCR 20:3.3, making a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal; SCR 20:8.4(b), committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, and fitness as a lawyer; and SCR 20:8.4(c), engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. Disciplinary Proceedings against Paulus, No. 04-1421-D.

    Disciplinary Proceeding against Russell Goldstein

    On June 30, 2004, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Russell Goldstein, 77, Milwaukee, for four months, commencing Aug. 4, 2004. In addition, the court ordered that Goldstein pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding in the amount of $11,551.29. Disciplinary Proceedings against Goldstein, 2004 WI 87.

    The suspension is based on Goldstein's misconduct in six matters. In the first matter, Goldstein failed to promptly notify his client of the client's ex-wife's appeal of their final divorce judgment and failed to take any action to respond to the appeal, in violation of SCR 20:1.3. Goldstein also failed to notify his client of various court of appeals orders relating to the appeal and subsequent summary reversal, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a). Finally, Goldstein failed to notify his client of the specifics of his ex-wife's appeal, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(b).

    With regard to the second matter, a personal injury case, Goldstein failed to respond to interrogatories, otherwise prosecute the claim, or attempt to resolve the matter without prejudice to his client, in violation of SCR 20:1.3. He also failed to inform his client, who had been involved in two accidents, that he would not be filing a lawsuit with regard to one of the accidents and that the second claim had been dismissed with prejudice with costs and attorney fees awarded, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a). Finally, Goldstein failed to inform the client that he did not believe either case had merit and failed to advise her as to her options with regard to the motion to dismiss, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(b).

    In the third matter, Goldstein failed to file a notice of intent to pursue postconviction relief on behalf of a client, in violation of SCR 20:1.3. With regard to the fourth matter, Goldstein failed to meaningfully communicate with his client prior to a revocation hearing, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a), and failed to clearly articulate or reduce to writing the fee agreement, in violation of SCR 20:1.5(b). In the fifth matter, Goldstein failed to inform a client that he had not arranged for another private attorney to attend a hearing on his behalf, instead arranging for a public defender to do so, and failed to inform his client of the consequences of a partial payment of a retainer, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(b). With regard to the final matter, Goldstein failed to clearly articulate or reduce to writing the fee agreement, in violation of SCR 20:1.5(b).

    Goldstein had previously been privately reprimanded for violations of SCR 20:1.3 and SCR 20:1.4(a).

    Disciplinary Proceeding against Craig V. Kitchen

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Craig V. Kitchen, Eau Claire, for 60 days, effective Aug. 3, 2004, as discipline for misconduct consisting of his failure to keep his clients, a husband and wife, reasonably informed about the status of their bankruptcy matter and promptly comply with the clients' reasonable requests for information (SCR 20:1.4(a)); charging his clients an unreasonable fee (SCR 20:1.5(a)); failure to maintain complete trust account records for at least six years (SCR 20:1.15(e)); failure to submit full trust account records to the OLR for its inspection, audit, use, and evidence (SCR 20:1.15(f)); and his willful failure during the course of an investigation to provide relevant information, answer questions fully, or to furnish documents (SCR 22.03(6)).

    In addition to ordering that Kitchen pay the costs of the proceeding in the amount of $8,060.34, the supreme court ordered that, as a condition of reinstatement, Kitchen shall furnish to the OLR certain trust account records, including monthly bank statements, cancelled checks, deposit slips, and any journals or ledgers. In the absence of any of the records, Kitchen must furnish to the OLR a sworn statement, or sworn testimony, detailing what records were maintained, what efforts were made to locate them, and why he cannot produce them. Disciplinary Proceedings against Kitchen, 2004 WI 83.

    Disciplinary Proceeding against Duane C. Mikkelsen

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the Wisconsin law license of Duane C. Mikkelsen, of Oregon state, for one year, effective Jan. 17, 2004, as discipline reciprocal to a one-year suspension imposed upon Mikkelsen by the Oregon Supreme Court, also effective Jan. 17, 2004. Justice Bradley concurred with the quantum of discipline, but would have suspended Mikkelsen's Wisconsin law license as of the date of the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision, June 8, 2004. Disciplinary Proceedings against Mikkelsen, 2004 WI 72.

    The one-year Oregon suspension resulted from Mikkelsen's misconduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; neglect of a legal matter; and failure to promptly return client materials in one matter; and engaging in conduct including dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; lawyer self-interest conflict; and neglect of a legal matter in another matter.




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