Vol. 78, No. 4, April
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)
Disciplinary Proceeding against John A.
On Feb. 8, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded
John A. Ward, Kenosha. The court also ordered that Ward pay the costs of
the disciplinary proceeding and pay his former client restitution of
$5,220 plus interest at the statutory rate since the date his
representation was terminated. Disciplinary Proceedings Against
Ward, 2005 WI 9.
A Kenosha woman hired Ward in April 2001 to represent her in opposing
a motion filed in Milwaukee by her ex-husband to establish visitation
with their daughter. In addition to defending the woman's position
regarding the visitation motion, Ward agreed to seek termination of the
ex-husband's parental rights. The woman paid Ward $10,000. The fee
agreement described the fee as a "Non-Refundable Minimum Fee," which
covered the first 50 hours of Ward's work. Additional hours were to be
billed at $200 per hour.
The client wanted the venue of the visitation matter changed from
Milwaukee to Kenosha and made her wishes known to Ward. At the initial
hearing in the visitation matter in May 2001, Ward made an oral motion
to change the venue to Kenosha and was advised to raise the issue in
writing. Thereafter, Ward filed a petition in Kenosha seeking to
terminate the ex-husband's parental rights. In July 2001, the Kenosha
court held the TPR in abeyance pending resolution of the Milwaukee
visitation case. A Milwaukee court commissioner held a second hearing in
the visitation case in August 2001. From May 2001 to August 2001, Ward
did not seek the change of venue in writing, as his client desired. In
the disciplinary proceeding, Ward disputed that he agreed to seek a
change of venue and maintained that he made a tactical decision to keep
the visitation case before the Milwaukee court. The referee found that
Ward's explanation of his strategy was incredible. The court adopted
this finding and the referee's legal conclusion that Ward violated SCR
20:1.3 by failing to seek the change of venue for three months, contrary
to the client's direction and expectation.
Within days of the August visitation hearing in Milwaukee, which
resulted in the issuance of a visitation order, the client terminated
Ward's representation and hired new counsel. The client requested return
of the unused portion of the fee paid to Ward. Ward refused, citing the
language of the fee agreement characterizing the fee as nonrefundable.
Ward provided the client an itemization of hours spent on the case
showing a total of 36.4 hours, 26.3 hours of which were for research.
The referee found the research to be "of questionable necessity, not on
point, and of no value" and the claimed nonrefundable aspect of the fee
to be unreasonable. The referee concluded that Ward charged an
unreasonable fee in violation of SCR 20:1.5(a) and failed to refund
unearned fees in violation of SCR 20:1.16(d). The court agreed and
adopted those conclusions.
Disciplinary Proceeding against Allen E.
On Feb. 10, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted Allen E.
Schatz's petition for consensual license revocation. The court ordered
the effective date of the revocation retroactive to Aug. 13, 2003, the
date of Schatz's suspension based on the court's finding that his
continued practice of law constituted a threat to the interest of the
public and the administration of justice. Schatz's revocation petition
acknowledged that he could not successfully defend against 32 counts of
misconduct relating to 11 client matters, as alleged in an Office of
Lawyer Regulation (OLR) complaint, and that he could not successfully
defend against four additional pending OLR grievance investigations.
In addition to revoking Schatz's Wisconsin law license, the court
ordered that Schatz pay restitution to eight clients and pay the costs
of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against
Schatz, 2005 WI 10.
Disciplinary Proceeding against Clay E.
On Feb. 16, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded
Clay F. Teasdale, Marinette, for professional misconduct.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Teasdale, 2005 WI 12.
Teasdale filed a complaint on behalf of a personal injury client in
June 1997. A year later, Teasdale was served with a deposition notice
concerning his client. Defense counsel also attempted to contact
Teasdale by phone but received a message that Teasdale's telephone was
"temporarily disconnected." Defense counsel heard nothing further from
Teasdale. Teasdale never informed his client of the scheduled
deposition, and neither Teasdale nor his client appeared at the
Opposing counsel subsequently filed a motion for costs based on
Teasdale's failure to produce his client for deposition. Teasdale failed
to notify his client of the motion, but Teasdale appeared at the
hearing. The court ordered Teasdale's client to pay $423.35 in costs in
connection with the matter. Teasdale failed to inform his client of the
The underlying personal injury matter was settled in December 1998,
but Teasdale rejected a draft stipulation and order for dismissal and
instead proposed a release that dismissed the action "without further
costs." Opposing counsel rejected the proposal because Teasdale's client
had not yet paid the costs previously ordered by the court. Opposing
counsel forwarded the judgment for costs to the court. Teasdale filed an
objection to the judgment for costs, asserting that the matter had been
dismissed without costs, which was inaccurate because opposing counsel
had not signed the draft release proposed by Teasdale. The court advised
Teasdale that the previous order clearly stated that Teasdale's client
was to pay the $423.35 in costs.
Teasdale's client first learned about the judgment against him when
he applied for a bank loan and the judgment appeared on his credit
report. In order to clear his credit, the client paid the judgment in
full. There is no evidence that Teasdale ever reimbursed his client for
The supreme court concluded that by failing to respond to the
deposition notice, Teasdale failed to make a reasonably diligent effort
to comply with a legally proper discovery request, in violation of SCR
20:3.4(d); and that by failing to notify his client of the deposition,
Teasdale also failed to keep his client informed as to the status of his
legal matter, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a).
The court further ordered Teasdale to make restitution to his former
client in the amount of $423.35, plus post-judgment interest, and pay to
the OLR the $737.67 costs of the disciplinary proceeding.
Hearing to Reinstate Ronald W. Hendree
A public hearing on the petition of Ronald W. Hendree, Milwaukee, to
reinstate his Wisconsin law license will be held before referee Kathleen
Callan Brady at the State Office Building, 819 N. 6th Street, Room 40,
Milwaukee, on May 17, 2005, beginning at 9 a.m. 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 Hendree's law license for one
year, effective Aug. 4, 1997. Hendree's misconduct consisted of several
occasions of knowingly disobeying professional obligations under the
rules of a tribunal in which he was appearing, failing to return advance
payment of fees he did not earn, misrepresenting to clients actions he
had taken on their behalf, misrepresenting facts to the Board of
Attorneys Professional Responsibility (BAPR) in its investigation into
his conduct, failing to act promptly and diligently in representing
clients, failing to comply with record-keeping requirements in respect
to his client trust account, and commingling his personal property with
that of his clients in that trust account. A more detailed account of
Hendree's misconduct is recited in Disciplinary Proceedings Against
Hendree, 211 Wis. 2d 440, 565 N.W.2d 119 (1997).
Hendree previously received a BAPR-imposed public reprimand
(97-BPR-1) for failing to put a contingency fee arrangement in writing,
failing to diligently pursue the legal matter of a union and its
individual members, failing to keep his clients reasonably informed of
the status of their matters and promptly comply with their reasonable
requests for information, failing to take reasonable steps to protect
the union's interests by timely returning its files and papers, failing
to return the union's $3,750 advance fee for costs of litigation he
never pursued, and failing to provide competent representation to the
union by not doing the preparation reasonably necessary to handle the
As to reinstatement, Hendree is required to demonstrate 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 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; he has the moral character to practice law in Wisconsin;
and he has fully complied with the suspension order and applicable court
Further information may be obtained from OLR Investigator Lorry
Eldien or Assistant Litigation Counsel Julie M. Falk, 110 E. Main St.,
Suite 315, Madison, WI 53703, (877) 315-6941 (toll free).