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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. 8, August 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.

    Disciplinary proceeding against Leroy Jones

    On June 3, 2008, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Leroy Jones, 80, Milwaukee, for four months, effective July 7, 2008. In addition, the court ordered that Jones pay restitution in the form of interest to one client and pay the cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Jones, 2008 WI 53.

    The suspension is based on Jones' misconduct in five matters. In the first matter, a client hired Jones to probate her mother's estate and to represent her in a guardianship matter. Jones failed to timely file an estate inventory, failed to appear at an order-to-show-cause hearing, and failed to appear at two guardianship hearings, all in violation of SCR 20:1.3. Jones failed to inform the client that he had not timely filed an estate inventory and that an order-to-show-cause hearing had been scheduled but that no one had appeared on her behalf at the hearing, in violation of former SCR 20:1.4(a). In violation of former SCR 20:1.16(d), Jones failed to timely refund any portion of the flat fee paid to him by the client despite the fact that he did not complete the representation. Finally, Jones failed to cooperate with the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) district committee's investigation of this matter, eventually leading to the temporary suspension of his license, in violation of SCR 21.15(4) and 22.03(6).

    In the second matter, a client hired Jones to represent her as the defendant in a personal injury case. Jones failed to take appropriate action in defending the client, including but not limited to failing to attend the plaintiff's deposition, in violation of SCR 20:1.3. Jones failed to inform the client of an upcoming mediation and its meaning, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(b). Jones also failed to inform the client of a settlement offer before accepting the offer, in violation of SCR 20:1.2(d). Finally, Jones made a misrepresentation to the client concerning action taken by the mediator, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c).

    A third client hired Jones to represent him in a child support matter. While no misconduct was found with regard to the representation, Jones failed to cooperate with the OLR's investigation of the matter in violation of 22.03(2).

    In the fourth matter, a client hired Jones to represent her in a small claims case. While no misconduct was found with regard to the representation, Jones failed to cooperate with the OLR district committee's investigation of the matter, in violation of SCR 21.14(5), 22.03(6), and 22.04(1).

    In the fifth matter, Jones failed to timely notify his client and the courts, administrative agencies, and attorney for each party in a pending matter of his temporary suspension on or before the effective date of the suspension, in violation of SCR 22.26(1)(a) and (c). Jones also failed to timely file a compliance affidavit, in violation of SCR 22.26(1)(e).

    As a condition of Jones' reinstatement, he must demonstrate that he has procedures in place to carry out his stated intention to limit his areas of practice.

    Jones has a lengthy disciplinary history. He was publicly reprimanded on July 2, 1984, June 26, 1990, May 30, 1991, Feb. 4, 1998, and Feb. 19, 2004. His license was suspended for 60 days effective May 6, 1991. In 1992, his license was again suspended for 60 days, retroactive to May 6, 1991. A third 60-day suspension was effective June 21, 1993.

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    Medical incapacity of Michael C. Hurt

    On June 11, 2008, the Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted a stipulation between the OLR and the attorney-in-fact for Michael C. Hurt, 64, DuPont, Wash., formerly of Menomonee Falls, and indefinitely suspended Hurt's law license because of medical incapacity. The court, acting pursuant to SCR 22.34, found that Hurt currently suffers from a medical incapacity that substantially prevents him from performing the duties of an attorney.

    Hurt's law license has been suspended since 2007 for nonpayment of State Bar dues.

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    Reinstatement of Hazel J. Washington

    On June 20, 2008, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reinstated the law license of Hazel J. Washington. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Washington, 2008 WI 66.

    The court had suspended Washington's law license for 18 months, retroactive to Feb. 3, 2006 (the date that a summary suspension took effect), based on Washington's conviction on federal tax evasion charges. Six witnesses testified on Washington's behalf at the reinstatement hearing before a referee appointed by the court. Although the referee acknowledged that there were some issues with regard to Washington's reinstatement, including a failure to notify two clients of her suspension, a failure to list those clients on an affidavit submitted to the OLR, and some technical misstatements on her reinstatement questionnaire, the referee found that Washington had expressed genuine remorse for her wrongdoing and that the issues were not serious enough to prevent Washington from resuming the practice of law. The court adopted the referee's findings.

    Another issue of concern was Washington's failure to fully comply with trust account recordkeeping requirements. The court found that this problem did not require the denial of Washington's reinstatement petition, but the court conditioned reinstatement on Washington providing full trust account records for the OLR's review on a quarterly basis for two years. Washington also was ordered to pay the full cost of the proceeding.

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