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    Lawyer Discipline

    The Office of Lawyer Regulation, 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 lawyers. The Office of Lawyer Regulation has offices located at 110 E. Main St., Suite 315, Madison, WI 53703; toll-free (877) 315-6941. The full text of items summarized in this column can be viewed at www.wicourts.gov/olr.
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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 80, No. 2, February 2007

     

    Disciplinary proceedings against Mary Kathleen Arthur

    On Nov. 17, 2006, the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted the petition for consensual license revocation filed by Mary Kathleen Arthur, Lake Geneva, pursuant to SCR 22.19. Arthur's petition acknowledged she could not successfully defend against the allegation of professional misconduct set forth in a pending amended complaint filed by the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR). Disciplinary Proceedings Against Arthur, 2006 WI 127.

    On Nov. 7, 2005, following a bench trial in federal court, Arthur was found guilty of nine criminal counts of conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, to conceal from the bankruptcy trustee her husband, Ronald A. Arthur's, individual and marital interests in real property, automobiles, investments, accounts receivable, and ongoing consulting work, so that Mr. Arthur might obtain a total discharge of all debts in his bankruptcy proceeding. Ms. Arthur has not yet been sentenced.

    Based on those convictions, Mr. Arthur's law license had been summarily suspended on March 17, 2006. Ms. Arthur's petition for consensual license revocation acknowledged that she cannot defend against an allegation that the conduct leading to her criminal convictions violated SCR 20:8.4(b), which states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to "commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects."

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    Public reprimand of Bruce B. Jacobson

    The OLR and Bruce B. Jacobson, Milwaukee, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public reprimand pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A referee appointed by the supreme court thereafter approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on Dec. 22, 2006, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3). The reprimand was based on Jacobson's misconduct in two client matters.

    In the first matter, Jacobson represented a client regarding a petition she had filed seeking a temporary restraining order against her neighbor and regarding an eviction notice the client received. In violation of SCR 20:1.3, Jacobson failed to take steps to negotiate with his client's landlord beyond writing a letter notifying the landlord that he had been retained. He also failed to keep his client informed of the status of his negotiations with the landlord, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a). In addition, Jacobson failed to promptly and adequately communicate the basis of his fee to the client, in violation of SCR 20:1.5(b), and deposited the client's initial $500 advance payment of fees into his business account, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(a) (effective until July 1, 2004).

    In the second matter, Jacobson represented a client in a personal injury matter resulting from a slip and fall accident. Jacobson failed to comply with certain court orders pertaining to the client's case and failed to prosecute the case, leading to its eventual dismissal, in violation of SCR 20:1.3. Jacobson also failed to inform his client of certain occurrences in the case, including the granting of a motion to preclude a claim of past or future wage loss, the necessity of the client's attendance at an independent medical examination, and the dismissal of the client's case, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a) and (b). Finally, Jacobson deposited into his business account a check the client had given him as an advance payment of costs, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(a) (effective until July 1, 2004).

    Jacobson's license was suspended for five months, effective Jan. 27, 2005. Also, on June 14, 2005, he was publicly reprimanded. His misconduct in these matters consisted of lack of diligence, failure to communicate, failure to adequately communicate the basis of his fee, engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, making a misrepresentation during an investigation, and numerous trust account violations.

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    Reinstatement of Mark E. Robinson

    On Nov. 10, 2006, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an order reinstating the law license of Mark E. Robinson, Janesville, effective the date of the order. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Robinson, 2006 WI 124.

    In a June 24, 2005 decision, the supreme court suspended Robinson's license for six months, effective Aug. 6, 2005. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Robinson, 2005 WI 88. Robinson's misconduct in that matter occurred in the context of several real estate transactions, some involving property in which he had an ownership interest. Robinson engaged in multiple conflicts of interest, contrary to SCR 20:1.7(a) and SCR 20:1.7(b). In more than one instance, Robinson also engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, contrary to SCR 20:8.4(c). In one instance, Robinson violated SCR 20:5.3(c)(1) by instructing his legal assistant to engage in conduct that would have violated SCR 20:8.4(c) had Robinson engaged in the conduct himself. In another matter, Robinson violated SCR 20:8.4(a) by attempting to have direct contact with a represented party, which is prohibited under SCR 20:4.2.

    On Dec. 29, 2005, Robinson filed a petition for reinstatement. On Aug. 18, 2006, a court-appointed referee filed a report recommending that Robinson's Wisconsin law license be reinstated. The OLR and the Board of Bar Examiners both joined in the favorable recommendation. The court adopted the referee's report and recommendation to reinstate Robinson's law license and directed Robinson to pay the costs of the reinstatement proceeding within six months of the order's date.

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