Vol. 83, No. 12, December 2010
Disciplinary proceeding against Barry LeSieur
In a Sept. 30, 2010 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Barry LeSieur, 45, Lac du Flambeau. LeSieur was also ordered to pay the cost of the disciplinary action. Disciplinary Proceedings Against LeSieur, 2010 WI 117. The discipline stemmed from LeSieur’s conviction of third-offense operating while intoxicated (OWI), which provided evidence that LeSieur violated SCR 20:8.4(b) (“It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects”).
Eight days after he agreed to a consensual private reprimand for his second OWI conviction, LeSieur again operated a motor vehicle while intoxicated and was arrested. He subsequently pleaded no contest to a charge of third-offense OWI. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and had his operator’s license revoked for 29 months. LeSieur self-reported his conviction in the manner prescribed by SCR 21.15(5).
The supreme court stated,
“[W]e have held that a pattern of multiple OWI convictions can demonstrate a serious lack of respect for the law that reflects adversely on an attorney’s ‘fitness as a lawyer in other respects’ under SCR 20:8.4(b) and can support a public reprimand.” In light of LeSieur’s prior private reprimand for the second-offense OWI, the court concluded that a private reprimand would not be sufficient to deter LeSieur from further alcohol-related misconduct.
The court imposed several specific conditions “necessary to ensure that Attorney LeSieur is obtaining the treatment he needs to cope with his alcohol-related problems and to protect the public from any future misconduct that might result from Attorney LeSieur’s consumption of alcohol.”
LeSieur’s only prior discipline is the private reprimand referenced above.
Disciplinary proceeding against Mark Kramer
On Oct. 6, 2010, the supreme court revoked the law license of Mark R. Kramer, Delafield. The court also ordered Kramer to make restitution to five clients and to the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, which had paid claims made by six additional clients, and required Kramer to pay the cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Kramer, 2010 WI 118.
The revocation was based on 69 counts of misconduct relating to 16 separate client matters. The most serious misconduct involved Kramer’s conversion of client or third-party funds totaling more than $150,000 (13 counts), his use of a trust account to conceal assets from the IRS (one count), and his making of false statements to clients and others (eight counts), by which acts he violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(1) and SCR 20:8.4(b) and (c). Kramer deposited more than $30,000 in business and personal funds to his trust account, in violation of SCR 20:1.15(b)(3); made nine cash withdrawals from it totaling approximately $14,000, in violation of SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)a.; and disbursed more than $33,000 to himself and more than $1,500 to a Waukesha restaurant from the account. He also failed to appear in federal court pursuant to orders to show cause in connection with IRS summonses and thereby violated SCR 20:3.4(c). In addition, he failed to notify clients of settlements, the status of their legal matters, and the suspension of his law license (13 counts), in violation of former SCR 20:1.4(a), SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (b), SCR 20:1.15(d)(1), and SCR 22.26(1)(a) and (b). Finally, 15 counts related to Kramer’s failure to cooperate with Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) investigations.
The revocation order included the following summary of what the court described as a representative example of Kramer’s misconduct: Kramer represented a client regarding a 2002 accident. After settling the client’s claim for $100,000 in August 2005, Kramer failed to disburse any of the proceeds to the client and told the client that the funds would have to remain in trust until an underinsured motorist claim was settled. Although the client was entitled to $65,667 after fees and costs, he received none of those funds. Instead, Kramer disbursed $99,902.40 from the settlement to himself, his law firm at the time, his former law firm, and another client.
Kramer had no prior discipline, but his law license had been under temporary suspension since Oct. 20, 2008, based on his willful failure to cooperate with two OLR investigations.
Disciplinary proceeding against Stephen M. Compton
On Sept. 8, 2010, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Stephen M. Compton, who practiced in the Lake Geneva and Williams Bay areas, for two years, effective March 16, 2010. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Compton, 2010 WI 112.
Compton’s professional misconduct stemmed from events culminating in a criminal conviction for possession of heroin. On March 7, 2009, law enforcement authorities executed a search warrant on the Lake Geneva home of K.L. Compton was found in a room with K.L. despite the fact that K.L. was at the time released on felony bond with conditions including that she not have any contact with Compton. The search revealed cocaine and heroin in K.L.’s home and in a vehicle driven by Compton. Compton admitted to law enforcement officers his use of heroin and cocaine.
In March 2009, Compton was charged with possession of narcotic drugs, possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and felony bail jumping in connection with this incident. K.L. was also charged. Cash bail amounts were set for each, and Compton and K.L. were ordered to have no contact with each other.
On March 8, 2009, Compton paid cash to obtain release from the Walworth County Jail. K.L. remained in custody on $10,000 cash bail. On March 11, 2009, D.M. brought $10,000 cash to the jail for the release of K.L. Later that day, D.M. admitted to law enforcement officers that Compton had called her and instructed her to go to a specific conference room in a hotel in Delavan to pick up a bag containing a phone and charger, $10,000 cash, a map to the sheriff’s department, instructions on what D.M. should tell the police if she was questioned, and an additional $500 for D.M. to split with K.L. Compton’s written instructions to D.M. included, in part, that D.M. should give the phone to K.L. and tell K.L. to use it to call Compton and further stated, “[K.L.] can never say I bailed her out! Never!”
On Oct. 7, 2009, Compton pleaded guilty to possession of narcotic drugs (heroin) (a class I felony) and felony bail jumping (a class H felony). The misdemeanor criminal charges for possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia were dismissed but read in. Compton was convicted, and the circuit court imposed and stayed a prison sentence and placed him on probation.
On March 16, 2010, the supreme court summarily suspended Compton’s law license based on Compton’s criminal convictions. In the disciplinary proceeding, the OLR and Compton entered into a stipulation in which Compton acknowledged that he committed criminal acts that reflect adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(b), and agreed to a two-year license suspension. The supreme court approved the stipulation.
Compton’s disciplinary history includes a public reprimand in 2002 and a 60-day suspension in 2008.
Reinstatement of Gary R. George
On Sept. 30, 2010, the supreme court reinstated the law license of Gary R. George and ordered him to pay the cost of the reinstatement proceeding within 60 days. Disciplinary Proceedings Against George, 2010 WI 116.
On March 26, 2008, the supreme court suspended George’s law license for four years and three months, retro-active to April 1, 2004, the effective date of a previous summary suspension ordered by the court. The summary suspension was based on George’s entering a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit offenses involving federal program funds and to commit wire fraud. In its 2008 opinion, the court found that George’s conduct violated SCR 20:8.4(b).
Following a hearing on George’s petition for reinstatement, a referee concluded that George had not met the standards for reinstatement. However, on appeal, the supreme court concluded that the standards were met and granted George’s petition.