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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 78, No. 12 December 2005

    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 proceedings against Jeffry P. Van Groll

    On Oct. 19, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a disciplinary order suspending the law license of Jeffry P. Van Groll, Milwaukee, for one year, commencing Nov. 18, 2005. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Van Groll, 2005 WI 140. On Nov. 8, 2005, Van Groll, unfortunately, passed away. The court had additionally ordered Van Groll to pay restitution to two clients; Van Groll had made full restitution before his death.

    Van Groll was licensed to practice law in Wisconsin in 1986. In 1997, he was privately reprimanded for lack of diligence and failure to communicate.

    In the current matter, Van Groll was retained by S.K., whose mother gave Van Groll $15,000 in cash. Van Groll did not deposit the funds in his client trust account, but instead claimed he put the cash in his office safe. After S.K. terminated Van Groll's services, S.K. requested an accounting of the $15,000 and a return of any unused amounts. Van Groll initially did not respond to S.K.'s repeated requests but eventually sent a letter to S.K. with $6,500 enclosed but without an accounting.

    During the course of the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) proceeding, Van Groll admitted that he still retained $1,736.48 of S.K.'s funds. During the investigation, Van Groll failed to cooperate and made misrepresentations to the OLR regarding the handling of S.K.'s funds. The referee found and the court agreed that Van Groll violated former SCR 20:1.15(a) and (b), SCR 20:1.16(d), SCR 20:8.4(c), and SCR 22.03(6).

    The OLR, concerned about Van Groll's handling of client funds, conducted an audit of his trust account. The OLR audit demonstrated that Van Groll had disbursed funds on behalf of persons who had no funds on deposit, deposited funds on behalf of persons and failed to account for subsequent disbursements, improperly kept personal funds in his trust account, and signed State Bar of Wisconsin certifications that he kept required records when he had not. With the exception of S.K. and another client, there did not appear to be any other client who lost money. Although the referee concluded that Van Groll had not purposely deprived any client of money for his own benefit through fraud, the referee concluded that Van Groll violated former SCR 20:1.15(a), (e), and (g), and SCR 20:8.4(c).

    Finally, Van Groll failed to file tax returns for the calendar years 1996 to 1999 and 2002 and filed untimely returns (without seeking extensions) for the calendar years 2000 and 2001. By willfully failing to file income tax returns on a timely basis, Van Groll violated SCR 20:8.4(f).

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    Disciplinary proceedings against Jolie M. Semancik

    In an Oct. 14, 2005 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Jolie M. Semancik, Greenfield, for six months, effective Oct. 14, 2005. The court also ordered Semancik to satisfy a small claims judgment against her in the amount of $1,855.92, plus postjudgment interest, and ordered Semancik to pay the $3,613.14 costs of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Semancik, 2005 WI 139.

    Semancik had retained a private investigator to assist her in numerous State Public Defender (SPD) appointment cases. The SPD paid Semancik in full for her fees and for all of the expenses she incurred, including the investigative expenses. Semancik, however, failed to pay the private investigator, who ultimately obtained a small claims judgment against Semancik.

    Semancik's misconduct consisted of failing to deposit into her trust account four checks from the SPD that contained funds belonging to the private investigator, such that she failed to separately hold in trust property of a third person that was in her possession in connection with a representation, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(a); failing to promptly notify the private investigator in writing of her receipt of the funds and failing to promptly deliver funds to which the private investigator was entitled, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(b); and converting to her own use those portions of the SPD funds she received as payment for the private investigator's work, thereby engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c).

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    Disciplinary proceeding against Gerald Proost

    On Oct. 19, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted a petition for consensual license revocation filed by Gerald Proost pursuant to SCR 22.19. Proost's petition acknowledged he could not successfully defend against 18 counts of misconduct relating to five separate matters. The revocation is effective immediately. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Proost, 2005 WI 144.

    In the first matter, Proost discussed with a longtime, elderly client a plan whereby Proost would invest the client's savings so that the funds would earn 7 percent interest. Proost then took the client to her bank and had her sign various documents. The client could not read the documents because she did not have her glasses with her. The client believed that no money would be removed from her savings account and she would begin receiving monthly checks in the amount of $100. The client later learned that she had signed over to Proost a cashier's check in the amount of $4,500. Proost executed a promissory note and eventually repaid the client all monies owed. In addition, Proost drafted a will for the client wherein Proost's brother was named trustee and personal representative of the client's estate. The OLR was investigating possible violations of SCR 20:1.8(a) and (c) and SCR 20:8.4(c) with regard to this matter.

    In the second matter, Proost borrowed $15,000 from a client. The loan was to be repaid, with interest, within one year. When the client died 11 years later, the bulk of the loan still was not repaid. During subsequent litigation initiated by the client's heirs, Proost sent a check representing a partial payment of the outstanding debt. The check bounced. Proost eventually sent a cashier's check to cover the bounced check. Judgment was subsequently entered against Proost for the remaining balance on the debt. That judgment has not been satisfied. As part of its order, the court ordered Proost to satisfy the judgment. The OLR was investigating possible violations of SCR 20:1.8(a) and SCR 20:8.4(c) with regard to this matter.

    In the third matter, Proost obtained three loans, totaling $82,000, from a client. The loans, with interest, were to be repaid by January 1998. However, as of September 2004, Proost still owed $55,500, plus interest. As part of its order, the court ordered Proost to pay the outstanding balance on the loans. The OLR was investigating possible violations of SCR 20:1.8(a) and SCR 20:8.4(c) with regard to this matter.

    In the fourth matter, Proost represented a woman in the sale of her home. At the time of the sale, the woman was suffering from dementia and living in a nursing home. The client turned over the proceeds from the sale, approximately $150,000, to Proost to invest. Shortly after the sale, the client's daughter was named her guardian. The daughter requested an accounting of the funds but Proost failed to provide one. The daughter then made a demand for the proceeds, plus any interest earned. Despite indicating he would do so, Proost failed to turn over the proceeds. In addition, Proost obtained a $35,000 loan from the client. The loan was to be paid in June 1999 but remains unpaid. As part of its order, the court ordered Proost to satisfy judgments entered against him in civil proceedings as a result of his failure to turn over the sale proceeds and his failure to repay the loan. The OLR was investigating possible violations of SCR 20:1.7(b), SCR 20:1.8(a), SCR 20:1.15(d)(2), and SCR 20:8.4(c) with regard to this matter.

    In the fifth matter, Proost facilitated a transaction between two clients whereby one client tendered $100,000 to the other client in reliance on a mortgage and note drafted by Proost. Although the second client failed to comply with the terms of the mortgage and note, Proost drafted a satisfaction of mortgage and then authenticated a fraudulent signature on the document. The OLR was investigating possible violations of SCR 20:1.1, SCR 20:1.2(d), SCR 20:1.7(a) and (b), SCR 20:4.1(a) and (b), and SCR 20:8.4(b) with regard to this matter.

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    Disciplinary Proceedings against Gary A. Miller

    In an Oct. 25, 2005 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Gary A. Miller, 62, Madison, and ordered him to pay the $5,860.16 costs of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Miller, 2005 WI 146.

    Miller represented a man in a divorce case. The client's spouse was injured in an automobile accident. An insurer issued a settlement check in the amount of $24,000 payable to both Miller's client and the client's spouse. By agreement of the parties to the divorce, the settlement check was deposited to Miller's trust account pending the outcome of the divorce. In the Feb. 6, 2001, divorce property settlement order, the circuit court awarded $7,329 of the accident settlement proceeds to the spouse. On March 30, 2001, Miller disbursed from his trust account the entire $7,329 of the remaining accident settlement proceeds, $4,929 to his client and $2,400 to Miller himself as attorney fees.

    Miller's misconduct consisted of failing to disburse to the client's spouse the $7,329 that was being held in his trust account pending the outcome of the divorce proceeding, which funds the circuit court had ordered to be granted to the spouse, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(a); and failing to comply with the circuit court's order to disburse to the client's spouse $7,329 of the accident settlement proceeds held in Miller's trust account and, instead, disbursing such funds to himself and his client, in violation of SCR 20:3.4(c).

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    Consensual revocation of Lee C. Erlandson

    On Oct. 19, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court revoked the law license of Lee Erlandson, 53, Madison, pursuant to Erlandson's petition for consensual license revocation. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Erlandson, 2005 WI 143. Erlandson's law license had been suspended since 2001, when the court determined that Erlandson had a medical incapacity as a result of his alcoholism and that he had failed to comply with conditions placed on his license.

    At the time of revocation, Erlandson was the subject of a disciplinary action that alleged 10 counts of misconduct involving four clients. Erlandson's petition indicated that he was unable to defend against those allegations: that he had converted client funds, filed fraudulent annual guardianship accounts, provided a false billing statement, made false statements to the OLR, improperly terminated a representation, and neglected a client matter. Erlandson's petition also stated that he could not successfully defend against new allegations under investigation regarding Erlandson's 2005 convictions involving felony operating while intoxicated and felony bail jumping.

    The State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection had paid restitution to three of Erlandson's clients. The supreme court ordered Erlandson to reimburse the Fund and to pay the $5080.90 costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

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    Disciplinary proceedings against Ralph A. Kalal

    On Oct. 14, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Ralph A. Kalal, 57, Madison, for six months effective Nov. 1, 2005. The court's order was based on a referee-approved stipulation between Kalal and the OLR. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Kalal, 2005 WI 138.

    Kalal was the owner of Kalal & Associates law firm, a sole proprietorship. Kalal's wife worked as the law firm's office manager. In 1999, two of the firm's employees became eligible to participate in the firm's 401(k) retirement plan. Six percent of those employees' earnings was withheld from each paycheck for contribution to the plan, and the firm was required to match 50 percent of those contributions. Kalal's office manager failed to forward the employees' forms to the 410(k) plan administrator and did not forward either the employees' or the firm's contributions. The employees' W-2 tax forms nevertheless showed contributions, and Kalal's tax returns deducted the full amount of the employees' salaries although 6 percent of the salaries had not been paid. An employee discovered the problem more than two years later when she tried to transfer funds from another 401(k) plan to the Kalal & Associates plan. When the plan administrator threatened to refer Kalal to the plan's legal department, Kalal paid $26,448.75 into the plan, thereby making both employees whole. The referee found, and the court agreed, that Kalal's conduct involved dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, contrary to SCR 20:8.4(c), and that his failure to ensure that his office manager's conduct was compatible with his own professional obligations violated SCR 20:5.3(b).

    During 1998 and 1999, Kalal & Associates also failed to timely file four employment tax returns and pay the tax owed with those returns, contrary to a standard of conduct set forth in State v. Roggensack, 19 Wis. 2d 38, 199 N.W.2d 412 (1963), and therefore in violation of SCR 20:8.4(f).

    Finally, Kalal stipulated that his firm failed to keep all required trust account records, including a monthly schedule of subsidiary ledgers, and that his trust account contained $3,425.57 more than the total indicated in all of the subsidiary client ledgers. Kalal acknowledged that the trust account held funds for 97 clients after their representations had concluded because his firm failed to timely refund unearned costs and fees ranging in amounts from less than $1 to more than $500. Such conduct was found to be in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(b) and 20:1.15(e) [pre-July 1, 2004 rules]. The court ordered Kalal to seek direction from the OLR about resolving the issue of the unidentified client funds and required Kalal to inform the court within 30 days as to how the remaining unidentified funds would be managed.

    In addition to the six-month suspension, Kalal was ordered to pay the $10,884.10 costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

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    Disciplinary proceedings against Mark Pierquet

    On Oct. 25, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court imposed a public reprimand and conditions on Mark Pierquet, Menasha. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Pierquet, 2005 WI 147.

    Pierquet and a colleague jointly represented R.G. in a personal injury matter on a contingent fee basis. R.G. did not recall signing a written agreement; Pierquet did not produce one.

    Pierquet filed a complaint on R.G.'s behalf but failed to respond to discovery. Opposing counsel moved for sanctions. The circuit court limited R.G.'s witnesses, ordered R.G. to provide opposing counsel the theory of liability, and imposed costs of $400 on R.G.

    Thereafter, without consulting his client, Pierquet signed a stipulation in which he agreed to dismissal of R.G.'s case with prejudice. Based on the stipulation, the circuit court dismissed the suit. Pierquet did not inform R.G. or his own colleague that he had stipulated to dismissal.

    The following month, Pierquet's colleague received notice of a trial date. He informed Pierquet that he required more time. Pierquet told his colleague that the court had removed the case from the calendar and would reschedule it later. Pierquet knew this was false.

    Shortly thereafter, R.G. called Pierquet to ask what to wear to court. Pierquet did not inform R.G. that he had stipulated to dismissal and instead told R.G. that the case was progressing smoothly toward conclusion.

    The next month, R.G. contacted Pierquet because he had learned that his case had been dismissed. Pierquet falsely stated to R.G. that he had not signed a stipulation dismissing the case.

    At this point, Pierquet's colleague confirmed that a stipulation for dismissal had been entered. He confronted Pierquet, who admitted signing the stipulation.

    By failing to reduce his contingent fee agreement with R.G. to writing, Pierquet violated SCR 20:1.5(c). By failing to properly prosecute R.G.'s lawsuit, Pierquet violated SCR 20:1.1 (competence), and SCR 20:1.3 (diligence). By stipulating to the dismissal of R.G.'s lawsuit without consulting or informing his client, Pierquet violated SCR 20:1.2(a) (scope of representation). By stating to R.G. that the case was progressing, and by denying that he had signed a stipulation for dismissal, Pierquet engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c).

    Finally, by failing to inform his cocounsel that he had dismissed the case and by misleading cocounsel into believing the case was pending and that the trial would be rescheduled, Pierquet engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c).

    The court imposed a public reprimand and conditions on Pierquet's law practice, specifically, that Pierquet continue medical treatment and provide full medical treatment records to the OLR for two years.

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    Disciplinary proceedings against Michael J. Backes

    In a decision filed on Oct. 20, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Michael J. Backes, Milwaukee, and ordered him to pay the $2,163.10 costs of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Backes, 2005 WI 141.

    A client contacted Backes in April 2001 to seek postconviction relief from a criminal conviction that had been affirmed on appeal. A third party paid Backes $2,500 on the client's behalf by June. When the client subsequently attempted to terminate him, Backes indicated in letters and during a November 2001 prison visit that he would work on the case soon. The client wrote to Backes in October 2002 to terminate him and to seek a refund; however, neither Backes nor the client could locate the party who paid Backes.

    Before returning the client's file in November 2002, Backes informed the client of his legal theory and represented that a petition for writ of habeas corpus had been prepared for filing. The client instead filed a pro se motion for postconviction relief with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in November 2002 and, after it was denied, filed a pro se motion for reconsideration in December 2002. The client eventually reinstated Backes and, in March 2003, asked him to file the petition. After Backes failed to file the petition, the client terminated Backes again and filed a pro se petition in July 2003.

    To settle the refund dispute after Backes did not receive a response to a formal opinion request to the State Bar Ethics Committee, the client later proposed that Backes help him if the court of appeals denied his pro se petition. Backes sent the client a compilation of case law and transcript citations. In November 2003, after the court of appeals denied the client's pro se petition, Backes told the client there were no further grounds for appeal.

    Backes violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness when he neither pursued postconviction relief nor concluded his review of the client's file for more than 18 months. During the disciplinary proceeding, Backes did not produce the petition identified in November 2002 and admitted that no such document was ever prepared. Backes violated SCR 20:8.4(c) by misrepresenting to the client that a petition was prepared for filing.

    Backes had previously received a public reprimand.

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    Public reprimand of Ross R. Kinney

    The OLR and Ross R. Kinney, 67, Dousman, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A referee appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court thereafter approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on Oct. 24, 2005, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).

    A wife filed for divorce. The parties had substantial assets. The wife also had concerns that the husband was abusing their oldest daughter. Before retaining Kinney, the wife raised allegations of sexual abuse, which were determined to be unfounded.

    The wife retained Kinney and agreed to pay him $150 per hour. Although this divorce was more complex than others Kinney had handled, and despite his limited knowledge and experience in divorce law, he did not consult with an experienced divorce attorney regarding the issues involved in the case. Despite working on an hourly basis, Kinney did not send a bill to the wife until more than a month after he withdrew from the representation.

    Throughout Kinney's representation of the wife, he continued to pursue the sexual abuse allegations, despite knowing that the daughter denied that abuse had occurred, that the Department of Human Services found no substantiation, and that no witness or expert substantiated the allegations. Kinney also pursued disqualification of a psychologist despite the fact that the wife had stipulated to the psychologist's appointment and without any evidence or legal authority to justify disqualification.

    The wife terminated Kinney's services and retained another attorney, who requested the wife's file. Kinney refused the request, arguing that he had not been paid. The second attorney filed a motion with the court to compel release of the files. In response Kinney asserted a retaining lien on the ground that the wife had not paid him, despite the fact that he had neither billed the wife nor prepared a billing statement. The court found that the files belonged to the wife and ordered Kinney to produce them. Kinney continued to withhold the files and asserted a retaining lien and charging lien without any basis in fact or law. The court required Kinney to transfer the file and disallowed the liens.

    Eventually, the parties signed a settlement agreement. In that agreement, the wife agreed to make a contribution to her husband's attorney fees in the amount of $20,000 because of Kinney's over-trial and frivolous prosecution.

    In a separate matter, Kinney represented a client in a divorce case. The matter was resolved in the fall of 2000. On Jan. 5, 2001, Kinney drafted a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) to obtain pension benefits for the client. On March 1, 2001, the plan administrator wrote to Kinney indicating that the QDRO did not qualify and explaining what changes needed to be made. As of February 2005, Kinney had not completed an appropriate QDRO.

    In the first matter, by agreeing to represent a client in a complicated divorce despite his limited knowledge and experience in divorce law, and by pursuing allegations of sexual abuse and the liens, Kinney violated SCR 20:1.1. By pursuing sexual abuse allegations, Kinney violated SCR 20:3.1(a)(1). By failing to promptly deliver a client's file to successor counsel, Kinney violated SCR 20:1.16(d). By asserting the retaining and charging liens, Kinney violated SCR 20:3.1(a)(1).

    In the second matter, by failing to file a proper QDRO for a client for more than four years, Kinney violated SCR 20:1.3.

    As a condition of the public reprimand, Kinney agreed to not withdraw his petition to voluntarily surrender his license.

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    Public reprimand of Jevon Jones Jaconi

    The OLR and Jevon Jones Jaconi, 32, Luxemburg, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A referee appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court thereafter approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on Oct. 13, 2005, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).

    The grievants retained Jaconi to represent their son in a criminal traffic case. The son had pleaded guilty and desired to withdraw the plea. The grievants paid $5,000 for what they understood to be a flat fee. There was no written fee agreement.

    During the course of the OLR investigation, Jaconi provided varying descriptions of the basis and amounts of the fee. The grievants reported that each time Jaconi asked for more money, he needed it to "keep going" on the case, and that when they initially retained him, they were not told about additional payments. The grievants nevertheless paid the additional fees.

    In addition to fee payments, Jaconi borrowed money from the grievants. The grievants acknowledged that the loans were not a condition of Jaconi's continued representation of their son, but said that they believed that Jaconi would not be able to work effectively for their son if he did not have the money.

    Jaconi filed a motion to withdraw the son's guilty plea. The court denied the motion. Jaconi paid the grievants $500 toward his loan but has not made any further loan payments.

    After conducting a formal investigation pursuant to SCR 22.03 and 22.04, the OLR director found that Jaconi violated SCR 20:1.5(b), which states, "When the lawyer has not regularly represented the client, the basis or rate of the fee shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation."

    In 2003, Jaconi received a one-year suspension for misconduct in seven separate client matters.

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    Public reprimand of Scott F. Anderson

    The OLR and Scott F. Anderson, 51, Milwaukee, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A referee appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court thereafter approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on Sept. 30, 2005, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).

    In January 2004, a man hired Anderson to represent him in a pending criminal matter. In February 2004, Anderson appeared late for the client's arraignment, resulting in the case being called three times without Anderson being present. In March 2004, Anderson appeared for the pretrial conference. However, he failed to timely advise his client that he had appeared for the pretrial conference, failed to adequately explain to the client the language on the client's bail slip about the client's need to appear at the pretrial conference or at a later show cause hearing, and failed to respond to the client's telephone calls about whether the client was required to appear at the show cause hearing if he had not personally attended the pretrial conference. Therefore, the client unnecessarily traveled from out of state to appear for a show cause hearing that he was not required to attend. After the client unnecessarily appeared for the show cause hearing, he began efforts to terminate Anderson's representation. Anderson failed to respond to the client's numerous telephone messages between March and June 2004 in which the client was attempting to terminate Anderson's representation, and he failed to accept a certified letter from the client that the U.S. Postal Service attempted to deliver to his office. The client was not successful in causing Anderson to file a motion to withdraw from the case until August 2004.

    During the representation, Anderson failed to respond to the client's numerous telephone messages and failed to adequately explain to the client the status of the case. Finally, Anderson failed to adequately explain the rate or basis of his fee to the client.

    Anderson violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to appear at the June 2004 hearing in the client's criminal matter and by appearing late at the February 2004 hearing in the client's criminal matter. Anderson violated SCR 20:1.4(a) by failing to timely apprise the client that it was unnecessary for him to appear at the March 2004 show cause hearing because Anderson had appeared at the pretrial conference, by failing to respond to numerous client inquiries between March 2004 and June 2004, and by failing to inform the client of the circumstances affecting Anderson's ability to appear on the client's behalf at the June 2004 hearing. Anderson violated SCR 20:1.5(b) by failing to apprise the client as to the manner in which his fee would be calculated. Anderson violated SCR 20:1.16(a)(3) by failing to timely file a motion to withdraw as counsel for the client between March 2004 and June 2004, following the client's telephone messages in which he advised Anderson that he wished to terminate Anderson's representation.

    Anderson has prior discipline. In 1999 he received a private reprimand for violations of SCR 20:1.3 and 20:1.4(a), which occurred during his representation of a client on a civil rights claim. In 2004, Anderson was publicly reprimanded for misconduct in three separate client matters, involving violations of SCR 20:1.3, 20:1.4(a), 20:1.4(b), and 20:3.4(c).

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    Public reprimand of Gary Roets

    The OLR and Gary Roets, 63, Portage, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A referee appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court thereafter approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on Oct. 5, 2005, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).

    In August 1999, a woman was named as personal representative of an estate. She hired Roets to represent her in the probate of the estate, which was valued at less than $11,000. While a petition for summary assignment was timely filed in October 1999, the estate remained open as of 2003, when the circuit court issued an order to show cause why the estate had not been closed within 18 months of the filing of the petition for summary assignment. Despite several attempts made by the client to speak with Roets about the order to show cause before the scheduled hearing, Roets neither contacted the client to discuss the order to show cause nor did he appear at the hearing. Because Roets failed to appear at the hearing, the court appointed the client as special administrator for the estate and ordered her to retrieve all of the estate's records and files from Roets and to secure the services of another attorney to assist her with closing the estate. The client and successor counsel had difficulty obtaining the estate's file from Roets.

    Additionally, during the representation, the client left numerous telephone messages for Roets to which he did not respond. The client visited Roets' office several times to obtain his assistance in completing the estate, and each time she found his office locked.

    Finally, Roets failed to cooperate with the OLR's investigation of this matter until after receiving a supreme court order to show cause as to why his law license should not be suspended for willful noncooperation with the grievance investigation. Thereafter, Roets failed to respond to requests for information during the district committee's investigation of this matter.

    Roets violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in his representation of the client to advance the estate's interests and by failing to properly calendar and appear for the hearing on the order to show cause. Roets violated SCR 20:1.4(a) by failing to respond to the client's reasonable inquiries and by failing to keep her reasonably informed about the estate's status. Roets violated SCR 22.03(2) by failing to timely file an initial written response to the grievance with the OLR in its investigation. Roets violated SCR 22.04(1) by failing to cooperate with the district committee in its investigation.

    Roets had no prior discipline.

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