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    Lawyer Discipline

    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.
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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 81, No. 4, April 2008

    Lawyer Discipline

    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.

    Hearing to reinstate Charles J. Chvala

    On Tuesday, May 20, 2008, at 9 a.m., a public hearing will be held before referee Kim Peterson at the offices of Eiche & Frakes S.C., 2600 N. Mayfair Rd., Suite 250, Wauwatosa, on the petition of Charles J. Chvala, Madison, 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.

    In Disciplinary Proceedings Against Chvala, 2007 WI 47, 300 Wis. 2d 206, 730 N.W.2d 648, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended Chvala's law license for two years, retroactive to April 10, 2006, based on his criminal conviction of one count of misconduct in public office (a Class E felony), relating to his having used state employees to work on political campaigns on state time, and one count of being party to the crime of making an excessive campaign contribution (an unclassified felony). The supreme court found that Chvala committed two violations of SCR 20:8.4(b), which prohibits a lawyer from committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.

    To be reinstated, Chvala has the burden of substantiating by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that 1) he has the moral character to practice law in Wisconsin, 2) his resumption of the practice of law will not be detrimental to the administration of justice or subversive of the public interest, 3) all of his representations in his reinstatement petition are substantiated, and 4) he has complied fully with the terms of the order of suspension or revocation and with SCR 22.26.

    Relevant information may be provided to or obtained from Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) investigator Mary Ahlstrom or OLR director Keith L. Sellen, 110 E. Main St., Suite 315, Madison, WI 53703; toll-free (877) 315-6941.

    Disciplinary proceeding against James R. Lucius

    On Feb. 15, 2008, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of James R. Lucius, Greenfield, for two years. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Lucius, 2008 WI 12.

    Six clients filed grievances with the OLR alleging misconduct by Lucius in his representation of them in their respective postconviction criminal matters. On May 29, 2007, Lucius' law license was suspended for his failure to comply with continuing legal education (CLE) reporting requirements.

    In the first grievance, a few weeks after a Machner hearing on May 26, 2005, a client asked Lucius to file a no-merit report. Despite repeated requests, Lucius did not do so until Jan. 25, 2006. The client then complained that Lucius had not provided him with all of his transcripts. On Feb. 13 and March 27, 2006, the court of appeals ordered Lucius to provide the transcripts to the client and then certify to the court of appeals that he had done so. Lucius did not comply with the orders. By failing to proceed with a no-merit report, failing to obtain all the transcripts, and failing to request deadline extensions, Lucius failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, in violation of SCR 20:1.3. By failing to comply with the court of appeals' orders, Lucius knowingly disobeyed an obligation under the rules of a tribunal, in violation of SCR 20:3.4(c).

    In the second matter, Lucius was appointed to represent a client in February 2005. Lucius failed to respond to several of the client's letters inquiring as to the status of his case. Lucius also failed to consult with the client regarding the content of the postconviction motion and brief that Lucius filed, and Lucius failed to visit the client until July 28, 2006. By failing to communicate with the client regarding the status of the postconviction motion, Lucius failed to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of a matter, in violation of former SCR 20:1.4(a).

    In a third matter, Lucius was appointed in September 2005 to represent a client who wanted Lucius to file an amended postconviction motion for relief. The court of appeals extended the deadline for the circuit court to decide the client's motion until Feb. 15, 2006. On May 25, 2006, because the circuit court had made no decision and Lucius had not filed an amended motion, the court of appeals directed Lucius to provide it with a status report by June 16, 2006 and, if necessary, a request for another extension. Lucius did not respond until June 24, 2006, when he advised the court of appeals that he had filed a motion to withdraw from the case. On its own motion, the court of appeals later granted an extension of time to preserve the client's postconviction rights. By failing to timely file a written status report with the court of appeals and by failing to request an extension to preserve the client's postconviction rights, Lucius failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, in violation of SCR 20:1.3.

    In a fourth criminal defense matter, Lucius again violated SCR 20:1.3, by his untimely filing of motions, his failure to file a post-hearing brief, and his failure to appear at two hearings, which led the circuit court to impose a contempt finding and remove Lucius as counsel. Lucius violated former SCR 20:1.4(a) by failing to respond to multiple written inquiries from the client and by otherwise failing to keep the client apprised of case status.

    A fifth matter stemmed from Lucius' postconviction representation of a client. Lucius unnecessarily delayed his receipt of relevant transcripts for several months. More than one year after being appointed to represent the client, Lucius withdrew from the case, having filed nothing on the client's behalf and otherwise failing to act to advance the client's interests. Lucius again violated SCR 20:1.3.

    In a sixth matter, Lucius was appointed to provide postconviction representation. Lucius failed to timely advance the client's interests, contrary to SCR 20:1.3. Further, in violation of former SCR 20:1.4(a), Lucius frequently failed to respond to client inquiries or otherwise keep the client informed as to case status. Lucius also failed to address the client's inquiry as to the legal consequence of a no-merit report, and therefore violated former SCR 20:1.4(b), which required a lawyer to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.

    In addition to ordering a two-year license suspension, the court ordered Lucius to pay the cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Further, the court ordered that if Lucius seeks reinstatement of his law license, the following conditions shall be imposed on his reinstatement: 1) If Lucius intends to practice criminal law, he shall obtain a minimum of 20 approved CLE credits in the criminal law area; and 2) Lucius shall obtain a minimum of 40 CLE credits in the area of legal ethics.

    Disciplinary proceeding against Phaidra S. Knight

    On Feb. 26, 2008, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Phaidra S. Knight, last known address New York City, for four months, effective the date of the order. Knight also was ordered to pay the costs of the proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Knight, 2008 WI 13.

    Because Knight failed to file an answer to the disciplinary complaint, the seven counts of misconduct alleged in the complaint were deemed admitted. By allowing Calvin Eleby, an individual who was not licensed to practice law in Wisconsin, to use Knight's name and attorney number to represent clients in Wisconsin escheated fund cases, Knight assisted Eleby in the unauthorized practice of law, contrary to former SCR 20:5.5(b). By allowing Eleby to sign her name to correspondence and pleadings that she had never seen, Knight made knowingly false statements of fact or law to a tribunal through the acts of another, contrary to former SCR 20:3.3(a)(1) and SCR 20:8.4(a). By failing to deposit checks she received from the state treasurer's office for her own clients to a client trust account, Knight violated former SCR 20:1.15(a). By failing to prepare complete records of trust account funds, Knight violated former SCR 20:1.15(e). By sending solicitation letters to prospective clients that were not labeled with the word "Advertisement" and were not copied to the OLR, Knight violated former SCR 20:7.3(b). By unequivocally stating in those solicitation letters that she had located the addressee's unclaimed share of escheated funds when she did not know if she was contacting the correct person, Knight made false and misleading statements to potential clients and created a false expectation about the results she could achieve, in violation of former SCR 7.1(a). Finally, by failing to provide the OLR with documents evidencing payment to clients after asserting that she had such documents, Knight violated SCR 22.03(6).

    As a condition of any reinstatement, Knight will be required to provide the OLR with documentation establishing that she paid two clients all funds that the clients were entitled to receive. Knight also was ordered to pay the cost of the proceeding.

    Hearing to reinstate Jimmie G. Davison

    On June 9, 2008, at 9 a.m., a public hearing will be held before referee Gary A. Olstad in Room 134B at the Marathon County Courthouse, 500 Forest Street, Wausau, on the petition of Jimmie G. Davison, Wausau, 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.

    In Disciplinary Proceedings Against Davison, 173 Wis. 2d 658, 495 N.W.2d 314 (1993), the Wisconsin Supreme Court revoked Davison's law license, effective Feb. 17, 1993. Davison's misconduct related to his having been found guilty of first degree sexual assault of a child, for which he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. Davison's conduct reflected adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.

    To be reinstated, Davison has the burden of substantiating by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that 1) he has the moral character to practice law in Wisconsin, 2) his resumption of the practice of law will not be detrimental to the administration of justice or subversive of the public interest, 3) all of his representations in his reinstatement petition are substantiated, and 4) he has complied fully with the terms of the order of suspension or revocation and with SCR 22.26.

    Relevant information may be provided to or obtained from OLR investigator Melody Rader-Johnson or OLR litigation counsel William J. Weigel, 110 E. Main St., Suite 315, Madison, WI 53703; toll-free (877) 315-6941.

    Hearing to reinstate Brian B. Burke

    On May 29 and 30, 2008, at 9 a.m., a public hearing will be held at the Milwaukee Bar Association, 424 E. Wells St., Milwaukee, on the petition of Brian B. Burke, Milwaukee, to reinstate his law license. The hearing will be presided over by a referee appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. 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 Burke, 2007 WI 46, 300 Wis. 2d 198, 730 N.W.2d 651, the supreme court suspended Burke's law license for two years, retroactive to Jan. 3, 2006, based on his criminal conviction of one count of misconduct in public office (a Class E felony), relating to using state employees to work on his campaign for state senator, and one count of obstructing an officer (a Class A misdemeanor), relating to Burke's having withheld a summary of a staff member's work history, knowing that it had been subpoenaed. Another count of misconduct in public office was dismissed and read in for sentencing purposes. The supreme court found that Burke committed two violations of SCR 20:8.4(b), which prohibits a lawyer from committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.

    To be reinstated, Burke has the burden of substantiating by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that 1) he has the moral character to practice law in Wisconsin, 2) his resumption of the practice of law will not be detrimental to the administration of justice or subversive of the public interest, 3) all of his representations in his reinstatement petition are substantiated, and 4) he has complied fully with the terms of the order of suspension or revocation and with SCR 22.26.

    Relevant information may be provided to or obtained from OLR investigator Mary Ahlstrom or OLR assistant litigation counsel Sheryl St. Ores, 110 E. Main St., Suite 315, Madison, WI 53703; toll-free (877) 315-6941.




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