Vol. 82, No. 3, March 2009
Public reprimand of Peter Manghera
The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and Peter Manghera, Madison, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A supreme court-appointed referee approved the agreement, and issued the public reprimand on Jan. 12, 2009, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).
Manghera was employed by a Madison law firm to do patent work. While at the firm, Manghera misrepresented the status of matters to clients, abandoned certain foreign patent filings, and falsely reported patents as pending when he had not filed the applications. During the course of representing several clients, Manghera received rejections of foreign patent applications, decided not to pursue the applications, and abandoned the applications without consulting his clients. Manghera sent status charts to his clients that contained false information regarding the status of patent applications and the work that he had done. In addition, Manghera submitted hours to the firm for work he had not done, and one client was billed by the firm for fees and expenses in connection with work not actually performed.
By failing to consult with the affected clients regarding continued pursuit of the applications and the direction of the representation generally after learning of the foreign patent offices’ rejections of patent applications, Manghera violated former SCR 20:1.2(a), current SCR 20:1.2(a), and SCR 20:1.4. These rules require that a lawyer abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation and consult with the client as to the means by which they are to be pursued.
By failing to timely advance his clients’ interests and complete work on foreign patent matters, Manghera violated SCR 20:1.3, which states, “A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.”
By failing to inform clients of the rejection of foreign patent applications, Manghera failed to inform those clients of a significant case development and thereby violated former SCR 20:1.4(a) and current SCR 20:1.4(a)(3), which require a lawyer to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter.
By failing to explain to his clients the ramifications of the rejection of foreign patent applications, Manghera violated SCR 20:1.4(b), which states, “A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.”
By intentionally communicating false information to clients regarding work performed and by submitting hours to his firm for work he had not actually performed, Manghera engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c).
Manghera has no prior discipline.
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Hearing to reinstate Linda A. Leaf
On Friday, April 17, 2009, at 9 a.m., a public hearing will be held before referee Christine Harris Taylor in the Board Room at the Milwaukee Bar Association, 424 E. Wells St., Milwaukee, on the petition of Linda A. Leaf, Milwaukee, 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 Leaf, 164 Wis. 2d 458, 476 N.W.2d 13 (1991), the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended Leaf’s Wisconsin law license for six months, based on Leaf entering into a business relationship with clients in which she had a conflict of interest without making the appropriate disclosures, assisting a nonlawyer in the unauthorized practice of law in respect to her clients, making misrepresentations to a circuit court and to the Board of Attorneys Professional Responsibility (BAPR) concerning the business relationship between her and the nonlawyer, making misrepresentations to the court concerning communications she had with a former client in the course of professional representation, and failing to cooperate with BAPR’s investigation of her conduct.
To be reinstated, Leaf has the burden of substantiating by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that she has the moral character to practice law in Wisconsin, her resumption of the practice of law will not be detrimental to the administration of justice or subversive of the public interest, all of her representations in her reinstatement petition are substantiated, and she 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 assistant litigation counsel Julie M. Falk, 110 E. Main St., Suite 315, Madison, WI 53703-3383; toll-free (877) 315-6941.
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Disciplinary proceeding against Gene B. Radcliffe
On Dec. 23, 2008, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Gene B. Radcliffe, La Crosse, for 90 days, commencing Jan. 19, 2009. Disciplinary Proceedings against Radcliffe, 2008 WI 128.
Radcliffe’s discipline was based on his felony conviction for manufacturing a controlled substance (marijuana), which constituted criminal conduct that reflected adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in violation of SCR 20:8.4(b). The criminal conduct involved two incidents in early 2007, one in Illinois and one in Wisconsin. Radcliffe was first arrested in Illinois when a police search of his car led to the discovery of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and hydroponics supplies. Illinois authorities contacted the sheriff’s office in Clark County, Wis., where Radcliffe’s home was located. Execution of a search warrant at Radcliffe’s home yielded marijuana plants and supplies used to grow marijuana. In September 2007, Radcliffe pleaded guilty in Wisconsin to one felony count of manufacturing a controlled substance.
Radcliffe’s misconduct was aggravated by a 1981 private reprimand, and because Radcliffe had substantial experience in the practice of law. Mitigating factors included Radcliffe’s deep regret, remorse, and public apology; his cooperation with the OLR investigation; the assessment of the criminal sentencing court (Radcliffe was sentenced to time served (28 days), three years of probation with the possibility of early discharge, 100 hours of community service, and various court-imposed conditions); and the time elapsed since the previous private reprimand.
Radcliffe entered a stipulation with the OLR that his conduct violated SCR 20:8.4(b) and that a 90-day suspension of his law license was appropriate discipline. The court adopted the stipulation. Because Radcliffe entered into a comprehensive stipulation that was approved by the court without the appointment of a referee, the OLR did not seek and the court did not impose an assessment of the proceeding costs against Radcliffe.
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Disciplinary proceeding against Terrence J. Woods
In an order dated Jan. 21, 2009, the supreme court suspended the law license of Terrence J. Woods, Oconto Falls, for one year, consecutive to his 90-day suspension that began on Aug. 11, 2008, and from which Woods has not been reinstated. The court further ordered Woods to pay the cost of the disciplinary proceedings. Disciplinary Proceedings against Woods, 2008 WI 79.
Woods’ misconduct related to two matters. In the first matter, Woods agreed to represent D.B. in a personal injury matter. Woods waited until one day before the applicable statute of limitation expired before filing a lawsuit on D.B.’s behalf. Woods then failed to serve the defendants with an authenticated copy of the summons and complaint, and the court dismissed the suit. Woods failed to tell his client of the dismissal, deliberately misrepresented the status of the case to his client, and refused to deliver the client’s file to successor counsel. The court concluded that Woods failed to act with reasonable diligence on behalf of his client, contrary to SCR 20:1.3; failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of the case, contrary to SCR 20:1.4(a); failed to explain to his client the ramifications of the dismissal of the lawsuit, thereby depriving his client of the ability to make informed decisions regarding the representation, contrary to SCR 20:1.4(b); failed to respond to successor counsel’s requests for D.B.’s file, contrary to SCR 20:1.16(d); and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c).
The second matter involved Woods’ aggregate failure to file Wisconsin state income tax returns with the Department of Revenue (DOR) for 1996 to 1999 and 2004 to 2006; his failure to pay Wisconsin state income taxes to the DOR for 1996 to 1999; his failure to pay withholding taxes for 1996, 1998 to 2000, May through December 2001, 2002, September through December 2003, and June 2004; his failure to file withholding tax returns for 1997, 2004 to 2006, and January to June 2007; his failure to pay business tax registration fees for 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2005; and his failure to satisfy tax warrants issued against him by the DOR for 1998 to 2007. The court found that Woods’ failure to file Wisconsin state income tax returns and to pay taxes violated SCR 20:8.4(f).
Woods’ disciplinary history includes a public reprimand in 1993, a 1996 private reprimand, two separate 60-day suspensions imposed in 1998, a 2003 public reprimand, and the 90-day suspension imposed in 2008.
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