Vol. 81, No. 12, December
The Office of Lawyer Regulation
(OLR), 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 OLR has offices 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
Reinstatement of Brian B. Burke
On Oct. 9, 2008, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reinstated the law
license of Brian B. Burke, 50, Milwaukee. Disciplinary Proceedings
Against Burke, 2008 WI 119.
The supreme court summarily suspended the law license of Burke, a
former Wisconsin state senator, on Jan. 3, 2006, following his
conviction in state court of one felony count of misconduct in public
office, relating to using state employees to work on his campaign for
state attorney general in 2002, and one misdemeanor count of obstructing
an officer, relating to withholding information relating to a staff
member’s work history when Burke knew it had been subpoenaed.
Another count of misconduct in public office, relating to falsifying
expense vouchers to receive per diem expense money, was dismissed and
read in for sentencing purposes. In the criminal case, Burke was
sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay a fine. The supreme
court subsequently suspended Burke’s license for two years,
retroactive to the date he was summarily suspended. Disciplinary
Proceedings Against Burke, 2007 WI 46, 300 Wis. 2d 198, 730 N.W. 2d
Following a hearing in the reinstatement proceeding, a
court-appointed referee filed a report recommending reinstatement.
Neither the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) nor the Board of Bar
Examiners opposed the referee’s recommendation. The court
reinstated Burke’s license and ordered him to pay the $3,876.39
cost of the reinstatement proceeding within 180 days.
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Disciplinary proceeding against Keith R. Hughes
The supreme court suspended the law license of Keith R. Hughes, 49,
Eagle River, for three years, retroactive to Sept. 11, 2007, the date on
which the court summarily suspended his license for the same misconduct
on which the disciplinary proceeding was based. Hughes also was ordered
to pay the $1,185.08 cost of the disciplinary proceeding.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Hughes, 2008 WI 120.
In April 2007, Hughes entered a plea agreement and pleaded guilty
to conspiracy to defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 371. Hughes’s misconduct involved conspiring to use the
proceeds of credit card loans, without repayment, to purchase a house in
Alabama. The credit card companies wrote off as bad debt or referred to
collection approximately 28 credit card loans totaling more than
$270,000 in principal, plus additional fees and interest.
Hughes agreed to pay $146,100 restitution as ordered by the
federal court for the principal amounts owed to the credit card issuers.
Hughes cooperated with authorities in the prosecution of the
coconspirator and paid a significant amount of restitution before
sentencing. Hughes was sentenced to a prison term of one year and one
The OLR and Hughes stipulated that his criminal conduct violated
In 1999, Hughes consented to a private reprimand for incompetence
and obtaining a prospective malpractice waiver from a client.
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Public reprimand of Michael J. Collins
The OLR and Michael J. Collins, Madison, 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 Oct. 29, 2008, in
accordance with SCR 22.09(3).
Collins entered into a business relationship with a man who was a
social acquaintance. The business involved the purchase and renovation
of a house. Before and during the business relationship, Collins gave
the man advice on bankruptcy and debt-related matters. There was no
written agreement concerning the business.
The OLR informed Collins that he was being investigated for a
potential conflict of interest arising from the client’s
allegation that Collins had improperly entered into a business
transaction with him while acting as his attorney. Collins denied the
attorney-client relationship, stating that he gave “friendly
advice.” The client then provided copies of the invoices and the
letters Collins’s office generated regarding the client’s
bankruptcy and debt collection.
By entering into a business arrangement with a client without
giving the client a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of
independent counsel and without obtaining the client’s written
consent, Collins violated former SCR 20:1.8(a) (effective before July 1,
2007). By misrepresenting to the OLR the extent and content of his
contacts with the client, Collins violated SCR 20:8.4(h) and
Collins’s prior discipline consisted of a 60-day suspension
in 2004 and public reprimands in 1995 and in 1989.
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Disciplinary proceeding against Michelle L. Tully
On Oct. 29, 2008, the supreme court suspended the Wisconsin law
license of Michelle L. Tully, Lake Villa, Ill., for three years as
discipline reciprocal to a Sept. 20, 2006 order of the Illinois Supreme
Court, disbarring on consent Tully’s Illinois law license for
three years. Tully also failed to notify Wisconsin’s OLR of her
Illinois discipline within 20 days of the discipline, contrary to SCR
The Illinois disbarment on consent arose out of Tully’s
violation of the Illinois Rules of Professional Misconduct, consisting
of seven conversions of client funds; failure to promptly deliver client
funds or other property; conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud, or
misrepresentation; conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of
justice; and conduct that tends to defeat the administration of justice
or to bring the courts or legal profession into disrepute.
In a previous Wisconsin disciplinary matter in August 2005,
Tully’s law license was suspended for two years for multiple
counts of misconduct; her Wisconsin law license remains suspended.
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