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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 79, No. 6, June 2006

    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.

    Disciplinary Proceedings against Carlos Gamiño

    On April 28, 2006, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Carlos Gamiño, Waukesha, for six counts of professional misconduct in two separate client matters. Gamiño also was ordered to pay the $7,773.38 cost of the proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Gamiño, 2006 WI 32.

    In one client matter, a referee and the court found that Gamiño twice violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to appear to defend a client in a civil matter and by subsequently failing to take steps to remedy the situation. Additionally, Gamiño violated SCR 20:1.16(d) by failing to immediately refund to the client the unearned fee after the client retained successor counsel, and he violated SCR 20:4.2 by contacting the client after he received notice that successor counsel had been retained.

    In a second client matter, Gamiño violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to act with reasonable diligence in filing the final findings of fact, conclusions of law, and judgment in a divorce. Gamiño also violated SCR 20:1.15 by failing to deposit in his client trust account funds he received to pay for court costs.

    After an evidentiary hearing, the referee declined to find misconduct violations in two other client matters. The court adopted the referee's findings and recommendation for discipline. Justice Louis B. Butler Jr., joined by Justice Patience Roggensack, concurred in the imposition of a public reprimand but dissented from the court's order that Gamiño pay the full cost of the proceeding.

    On Dec. 20, 2005, the court had suspended Gamiño's law license for six months, effective Jan. 24, 2006, for unrelated misconduct. The referee did not consider this prior discipline in making her recommendation, because at the time of the disciplinary hearing, the previous matter was on appeal and discipline had not yet been imposed.

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    Disciplinary Proceedings against David L. Ham

    On April 5, 2006, the Wisconsin Supreme Court revoked the law license of David L. Ham, 40, Madison, effective the date of the order. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Ham, 2006 WI 30. The court ordered Ham to pay restitution to three clients and to the Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection in the total amount of $10,000 and ordered Ham to provide a full accounting to two clients and return any unearned fees to them. The court further ordered Ham to pay the $2,431.55 cost of the disciplinary proceeding.

    Ham defaulted to the Office of Lawyer Regulation's (OLR) complaint, which alleged 53 counts of misconduct regarding 16 different clients. Ham's misconduct included taking cash withdrawals from his client trust account and otherwise misusing his trust account to pay his personal expenses. Noting the serious nature and obvious pattern of the misconduct, the court concluded that Ham had committed one or more violations of the following Supreme Court Rules: 20:1.3, 20:1.4(a), 20:1.15(b)(1), (d)(1), (e)(4)(a), 20:1.16(d), 20:3.4(c), 20:8.4(c), 21.15(4), 22.03(2), 22.03(6), 20:8.4(f), 22.26(1)(a), (b), (c), and 22.26(2). During the OLR's investigation of the underlying grievances, the court temporarily suspended Ham's license on three occasions, due to his failure to cooperate with OLR investigations.

    Ham had no prior discipline.

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    Disciplinary Proceedings against Charles J. Chvala

    On April 10, 2006, the Wisconsin Supreme Court entered an order summarily suspending the law license of Charles J. Chvala, Madison. Case No. 2005XX21800-D. Chvala had opposed the OLR's summary suspension request.

    The OLR had sought the summary suspension, pursuant to SCR 22.20, following Chvala's conviction in state court for misconduct in office, relating to using state employees to work on political campaigns and to making a campaign contribution exceeding lawful limits as party to a crime.

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    Disciplinary Proceedings against Michelle L. Danielson

    On April 28, 2006, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Michelle L. Danielson, Glendale, for six months, retroactive to Jan. 11, 2005, the date on which the court temporarily suspended Danielson's license for failing to cooperate with the OLR. The court also ordered Danielson to refund $500 to her client within 60 days, to pay the $2,717.52 cost of the disciplinary proceeding, and, as a condition of her reinstatement, to complete eight hours of ethics courses approved by the Board of Bar Examiners. Disciplinary Proceedings against Danielson, 2006 WI 33.

    In October 2002, a client retained Danielson for representation in an insurance dispute and paid her a $500 retainer. Danielson provided no legal services. In the fall of 2003, the client learned that Danielson's phone had been disconnected. Danielson did not respond to her client's letters. By failing to work on the client's matter, Danielson failed to act with reasonable diligence, as required by SCR 20:1.3. By failing to communicate with the client or respond to his inquiries, Danielson violated SCR 20:1.4(a). Danielson violated SCR 20:1.16(d) by failing to refund the client's $500 retainer when she had performed no services for him.

    Danielson failed to file with the OLR a written response to the client's grievance, contrary to SCR 20:8.4(f) and SCR 22.03(2) and (6). On Nov. 1, 2004, Danielson was suspended from the practice of law for nonpayment of mandatory bar dues, and on Jan. 11, 2005, the court temporarily suspended her license for failure to cooperate with the OLR's investigation. Subsequently, Danielson violated SCR 20:8.4(f) and SCR 22.26(1)(a) and (b) by failing to notify the client of her two suspensions and by failing to advise him to seek legal advice elsewhere. Danielson also violated SCR 20:8.4(f) and SCR 22.26(1)(e) by failing to file a post-suspension affidavit with the OLR within 25 days of her suspension.

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    Public Reprimand of Jane Krueger Smith

    The OLR and Jane Krueger Smith, 50, Oconto Falls, agreed to the imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A referee appointed by the supreme court thereafter approved the agreement and issued a public reprimand on March 29, 2006, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).

    The misconduct that led to the public reprimand occurred during Krueger Smith's representation of three public defender clients. In the first matter, Krueger Smith was appointed to provide appellate-level representation to a client following the client's conviction of child enticement-sexual contact and second degree sexual assault-use of force. The client was sentenced to 20 years in a state prison. Krueger Smith did some initial work on the client's case, including obtaining and reviewing the transcript, but she failed to follow through with postconviction motions or otherwise file an appeal in the client's matter, in violation of SCR 20:1.3, which states that "A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client."

    Krueger Smith also failed to respond to numerous letters from the client and from the State Public Defender's (SPD) office inquiring about the status of a matter, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a), which states that "A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information." In failing to discuss potential appellate issues and strategies available to the client so the client could make an informed decision regarding his appeal, Krueger Smith failed to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation, contrary to SCR 20:1.4(b).

    In failing to fully and fairly disclose all of the facts and circumstances pertaining to the alleged conduct and in failing to respond to additional questions concerning the client's grievance, Krueger Smith failed to cooperate with the investigation of the client's grievance in violation of SCR 21.15(4) and SCR 22.03(6). Both rules are enforceable under the Rules of Professional Conduct via SCR 20:8.4(f), which states in relevant part, "It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to ... violate a ... supreme court rule ... regulating the conduct of lawyers."

    In the second matter, on or about April 29, 2002, Krueger Smith was appointed by the SPD to represent a man on his appeal of a conviction in Outagamie County. The client was initially incarcerated at the Green Bay Correctional Institution. In January 2003, the client filed a grievance with the OLR asserting that after Krueger Smith was initially appointed, she contacted him by mail on or about June 5, 2002, but thereafter was not responsive to him. Krueger Smith also failed to make a promised visit to the client in prison. Krueger Smith never communicated with the client and neglected to follow up on his case. Krueger Smith also failed to fully respond to additional questions from the OLR concerning the client's grievance.

    By failing to advance postconviction motions or an appeal on the client's behalf or, in the alternative, to formally close out the file with a no-merit report or any other proper notice to the client, courts, and the SPD, Krueger Smith violated SCR 20:1.3, which states, "A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client." Subsequent to her introductory letter to the client dated June 4, 2002, by failing to affirmatively inform the client of case status and by failing to reply to his inquiries regarding case status, Krueger Smith violated SCR 20:1.4(a), which states, "A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information." By failing to have any communication with the client subsequent to her introductory letter, Krueger Smith failed to allow the client to make any informed decision concerning appellate efforts, such that Krueger Smith violated SCR 20:1.4(b), which states, "A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation." In failing to fully and fairly disclose all of the facts and circumstances pertaining to the alleged conduct and in failing to fully respond to additional questions concerning the client's grievance, Krueger Smith failed to cooperate with the investigation of the grievance in violation of SCR 21.15(4) and SCR 22.03(6). She thereby violated a supreme court rule governing the conduct of lawyers, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(f).

    In the third matter, an SPD attorney manager filed a grievance with the OLR regarding the conduct of Krueger Smith and her representation of a public defender client in postconviction proceedings and/or appeals in three Brown County cases. Krueger Smith had been appointed to represent the client on May 28, 2002. The attorney manager asserted that in April 2003, he received a letter from the client stating that Krueger Smith had stopped taking his calls and responding to his letters regarding his case. The attorney manager subsequently wrote several letters to Krueger Smith asking her to respond to her client's concerns. Krueger Smith never responded. In one telephone call from the attorney manager, Krueger Smith indicated she would review the client's file and fax information regarding the client's case to the attorney manager by the following day, but she then failed to do so. Krueger Smith also failed to submit an initial written response to the OLR concerning the grievance.

    In failing to pursue any postconviction or appellate action on the client's behalf or, in the alternative, to file a no-merit report with the court of appeals in the client's case, Krueger Smith failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, in violation of SCR 20:1.3. In failing after June 30, 2002, to respond to the client's phone calls and correspondence inquiring about the status of his case, Krueger Smith failed to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a). Finally, in failing to fully and fairly disclose all of the facts and circumstances pertaining to the alleged misconduct and in failing to fully respond to additional questions concerning the SPD attorney manager's grievance, Krueger Smith failed to cooperate with the OLR's investigation in violation of SCR 21.15(4) and SCR 22.03(6), which are enforceable under the Rules of Professional Conduct via SCR 20:8.4(f).

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    Amended Petition to Reinstate Mark E. Robinson

    On July 25, 2006, at 9 a.m. (not earlier in July, as previously posted), a public hearing will be held before referee John R. Decker, in the third floor council room, Evansville City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street, Evansville, on the petition of Mark E. Robinson, Janesville, to reinstate his 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 Robinson's law license for six months, effective Aug. 6, 2005. Robinson's misconduct leading to discipline occurred in the context of multiple real estate transactions, some involving property in which he had an ownership interest. Robinson engaged in multiple conflicts of interest. In more than one instance, Robinson engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. Robinson's misconduct included instructing his legal assistant to engage in conduct that would have violated the dishonesty rule had Robinson engaged in the conduct himself. In one of the matters leading to discipline, Robinson attempted to have direct contact with a represented party. A more detailed description of Robinson's misconduct is set forth in Disciplinary Proceedings Against Robinson, 2005 WI 88.

    Relevant information may be provided to or obtained from OLR investigator Melody Rader-Johnson, 110 E. Main St., Suite 315, Madison, WI 53703, (877) 315-6941, or from the OLR's retained counsel, Richard P. Mozinski, Radosevich, Mozinski, Cashman & Olson, 903 Washington St., Manitowoc, WI 54221, (920) 684-1234.

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