Vol. 80, No. 8, August 2007
Public reprimand of Shawn G. Rice
On June 7, 2007, the Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted a referee's findings of fact and conclusions of law and determined that Shawn G. Rice, Sheboygan, should be publicly reprimanded for three counts of misconduct and that he should be ordered to pay the $28,832.91 cost of the disciplinary proceedings. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Rice, 2007 WI 68.
The misconduct occurred in connection with a real estate transaction that went awry, resulting in civil litigation. The court concluded that Rice violated SCR 20:8.4(c) thrice, by: 1) executing an offer to purchase in which the buyer was falsely represented as being a member of a limited liability company; 2) falsely testifying in a deposition in the resulting civil matter that he had consulted with an environmental attorney after receiving a Phase II environmental report on the property; and 3) falsely testifying in that same deposition that another attorney was aware of an agreement with a potential buyer.
The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) had alleged four violations of SCR 20:8.4(c) and sought a 60-day suspension of Rice's license. The court agreed with the referee's conclusion that the OLR had not proven one of the counts and determined that a public reprimand was sufficient discipline.
Rice has no prior discipline.
Disciplinary proceedings against Paul M. Kasprowicz
The supreme court suspended the law license of Paul M. Kasprowicz, Waukesha, for 60 days, effective July 13, 2007. The court also ordered Kasprowicz to pay the $3,830.03 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Kasprowicz, 2007 WI 67.
After an independent review of the record, the court adopted a referee's findings of fact and conclusions of law and determined that Kasprowicz engaged in eight instances of misconduct in two separate matters. In the first matter, Kasprowicz violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to act with reasonable diligence in the client's divorce matter, causing it to be administratively dismissed. Kasprowicz also violated SCR 20:1.4(a) by failing to keep the client informed about her matter and failing to notify her of its administrative dismissal.
In the second client matter, Kasprowicz, in violation of SCR 20:3.4(c), knowingly disobeyed an obligation under the rules of a tribunal when he failed to respond to numerous court orders and directives requiring him to file the original certificate of divorce. Kasprowicz also failed to respond to the client's numerous inquiries about a refund and her final divorce documents and failed to timely refund the unearned portion of her advance fee payment, in violation of SCR 20:1.16(d).
Additionally, Kasprowicz twice violated former SCR 20:1.15(a), effective before July 1, 2004, by failing, in both client matters, to deposit the clients' advance fee payment in his client trust account. In both client matters, Kasprowicz also failed to file a written response with the OLR until after the court issued an order to show cause why his license should not be suspended for failing to cooperate, in violation of SCR 22.03(2), actionable through SCR 20:8.4(f).
Kasprowicz received a public reprimand in 2004 for similar misconduct.
Disciplinary proceeding against John R. Dade
The supreme court suspended the law license of John R. Dade, Whitewater, for 60 days, effective July 13, 2007. The court also ordered Dade to pay the $3,875.20 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Dade, 2007 WI 66. Dade's suspension related to four counts of misconduct in three unrelated client matters.
The first count related to Dade's repeated failure to provide information to the OLR during its investigation of a grievance, in violation of SCR 22.03(6) and 20:8.4(f).
The second count related to Dade's representation of a client who was charged with felony failure to pay child support. Although the client insisted that under the terms of her divorce she was not obligated to pay support while she was unemployed, Dade did not obtain a transcript of the final divorce hearing because he believed that doing so would be expensive. Dade negotiated a plea agreement in which the client pleaded guilty to two felony counts, and the court then placed the client on probation. The client subsequently obtained the transcript on her own for $27.71. The transcript showed that she was not obligated to pay child support while she was unemployed. Dade eventually negotiated with the client's former spouse to terminate the child support arrearage and to declare the couple's youngest child emancipated, but Dade took no action to get the felony convictions reversed. Dade's conduct was in violation of SCR 20:1.3, which requires an attorney to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
The third and fourth counts related to Dade's representation of a seller of real estate parcels. Dade stated that he would pay delinquent property taxes and lake association dues out of the client's sale proceeds that were in Dade's client trust account. Although Dade paid the association dues and some of the unpaid taxes, an outstanding property tax balance remained. Meanwhile, Dade made disbursements from the sale proceeds as the client directed, and Dade disbursed funds to pay his law firm's fees. In addition, Dade failed to record warranty deeds for six parcels and did not complete transfer return forms or pay the transfer tax fees. Dade's failure to respond to the OLR's requests for information led to the court's temporarily suspending Dade's license until he responded to the grievance. In failing to hold funds in trust while the buyer of the properties had an interest in the use of the funds, Dade violated former SCR 20:1.15(a) and former SCR 20:1.15(d). Dade's failure to respond to the OLR's requests violated SCR 22.03(2) and (6) and 20:8.4(f).
Dade's disciplinary history consists of a public reprimand in April 2007 and a private reprimand in 1991.
Hearing to reinstate Hazel J. Washington
On Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007, at 10 a.m., a public hearing will be held before referee Richard M. Esenberg at the offices of Halling & Cayo S.C., 320 E. Buffalo Street, Suite 700, Milwaukee, on the petition of Hazel J. Washington, Menomonee Falls, to reinstate her law license. Any interested person may appear at the hearing and be heard in support of, or in opposition to, the petition for reinstatement.
In Disciplinary Proceedings Against Washington, 2007 WI 65, ___ Wis. 2d ___, 732 N.W.2d 24, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended Washington's law license for 18 months on May 30, 2007, retroactive to Feb. 3, 2006, when Washington's license had been summarily suspended based on her criminal conviction. Washington's conduct leading to her suspension was based on her federal conviction for income tax evasion. Washington failed to report gross income in 1998 of more than $100,000, for which she was sentenced to five months in prison and two years of supervised release. The plea agreement further showed that, although she was not charged, Washington had additional unreported income in 1999 and 2000 totaling more than $100,000. The court found that the serious nature of Washington's prolonged course of hiding her income and filing false tax returns was contrary to SCR 20:8.4(b).
To be reinstated, Washington must substantiate by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that: 1) she has the moral character to practice law in Wisconsin; 2) her resumption of the practice of law will not be detrimental to the administration of justice or subversive of the public interest; 3) all of her representations in her reinstatement petition are substantiated; and 4) she has complied fully with the terms of the suspension or revocation order and with SCR 22.26.
Relevant information may be provided to or obtained from OLR investigator Nancy Warner or OLR assistant litigation counsel Julie M. Falk, 110 E. Main St., Suite 315, Madison, WI 53703; (877) 315-6941.
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