Vol. 84, No. 5, May 2011
Public reprimand with consent of H. Craig Haukaas
On Feb. 23, 2011, a Wisconsin Supreme Court-appointed referee approved a public reprimand with consent based on the following circumstances.
Haukaas, a district attorney, tendered a plea agreement offer that included a term requiring a $2,000 donation to the sheriff’s department for the purchase of tasers. At the sentencing hearing, the court was not informed of the requirement that the defendant pay the contribution to the sheriff’s department. The defendant told the court that no one had made any threats or promises to her, other than as stated in the plea agreement. Haukaas did not tell the court that there was an additional requirement that the defendant pay the $2,000, and he thereby violated former SCR 20:3.3(a)(1) (effective before July 1, 2007), which states, in relevant part, “A lawyer shall not knowingly … make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal.”
Reinstatement of Charles Glynn
On Feb. 15, 2011, the supreme court reinstated the law license of Charles Glynn, Milwaukee, and ordered him to pay the cost of the reinstatement proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Glynn, 2011 WI 9.
On June 14, 1999, the supreme court suspended Glynn’s law license for one year. The suspension was based on misconduct committed while Glynn served as guardian for two estates and conservator for a third. Glynn collected unreasonable fees without court approval, failed to file necessary reports with the court, failed to act in a competent and timely manner, and falsified statements and documents in an attempt to justify his excessive fees. Glynn also misled the person investigating his misconduct. Glynn was convicted of theft from a business setting, greater than $1,000 but less than $2,500, a class E felony, related to his handling of the two estates for which he served as guardian.
In October 2000, Glynn’s law license was again suspended, this time for nine months and consecutive to the earlier suspension term. Glynn’s misconduct in the second suspension case consisted of failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing three clients, failing to explain matters to the extent reasonably necessary to allow two of his clients to make informed decisions, and failing to cooperate with the investigation of his misconduct.
Following a hearing on Glynn’s petition for reinstatement, a referee found that Glynn had met the standards for reinstatement. The supreme court adopted the referee’s finding, noting that “Glynn has changed his life during the suspension period.”
Disciplinary proceedings against Frederick J. Voss
On Jan. 19, 2011, the supreme court suspended the law license of Frederick J. Voss, Rhinelander, for four years and eight months, effective March 1, 2011. In addition, the court ordered Voss to have no contact with his former client and to pay the cost of the proceeding. The court also held that the entire file in the proceeding shall remain sealed and confidential. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Voss, 2011 WI 2.
Voss’s suspension was based on professional misconduct committed in connection with his long-time representation of a female client with an extensive history of suffering from and being treated for various psychiatric disorders and alcohol dependency. Voss engaged in numerous instances of sexual relations with the client. He disregarded her requests that he not call her. Voss made numerous telephone calls to her, including during the time she was a patient in a mental institution. After law enforcement authorities began a criminal investigation of Voss pertaining to his sexual contact with the client, he communicated many times with the client, her mother, her sister, and other people, in an effort to get her to recant her statements about the events being investigated. In 2007, Voss gave the client a cash payment and induced her to sign a self-serving document he had prepared.
Voss sent a letter containing information about the client’s sexual history to two circuit court judges, trying to persuade them there would be no merit to criminal charges Voss believed the district attorney might pursue against him relating to his sexual contact with the client. Voss also included detailed information about the client’s sexual and mental health histories in documents he submitted in a restraining-order case the client filed against him. Throughout the entire disciplinary proceeding, he attached to his pleadings hundreds of pages of medical records containing highly sensitive personal information about the client.
Voss violated former SCR 20:1.8(k)(2) (in effect before July 1, 2007) by first engaging in sexual relations with the client at a time when he represented the client in ongoing legal matters and had an ongoing lawyer-client relationship with the client. He violated former SCR 20:1.7(b) (in effect before July 1, 2007) for his conflict of interest in engaging in sexual relations with the client while he represented the client in ongoing legal matters or was serving as the client’s representative payee for Social Security benefits.
In addition, Voss violated former SCR 20:3.3(a)(1) (in effect before July 1, 2007) by making a misrepresentation regarding his attempts to contact the client in a memorandum filed with the circuit court in a restraining-order case the client filed against him. He violated SCR 20:3.1(a)(3), and, via SCR 20:8.4(g), the attorney’s oath (SCR 40.15), by repeatedly communicating with the client, her family members, and other people in a manner that served to intimidate, embarrass, harass, or discredit the client and by publishing confidential, personal, and irrelevant information regarding the client in a manner that served to intimidate, embarrass, harass, or discredit the client. Finally, Voss violated former SCR 20:4.4 (in effect before July 1, 2007) by sending correspondence to two circuit court judges that had the effect of embarrassing and burdening the client, when Voss had no legitimate reason for sending the items to the judges.
In 2006, Voss was publicly reprimanded for arranging for an incarcerated client to meet with people in violation of a no-contact order and failing to disclose the no-contact order to jail personnel, when disclosure was necessary to avoid assisting the client in a criminal act.
Public reprimand of David L. Grace
The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and David L. Grace, Wisconsin Rapids, agreed to imposition of a public reprimand pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A supreme court-appointed referee thereafter approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3), on Feb. 4, 2011.
Grace represented a man who was charged with a misdemeanor. The case was tried to the circuit court, which found the man guilty and imposed a fine and costs. The man told Grace that he wanted to appeal, but Grace did not file a notice of intent to seek postconviction relief. The man subsequently wrote to Grace regarding the appeal and made multiple calls to his office, but Grace did not reply. Grace violated SCR 20:1.2(a) and 20:1.3 by failing to act in furtherance of his client’s stated objectives. Grace violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(4) by failing to respond to several telephone and written inquiries from the client.
Grace represented the same man after he was charged in a different county with committing misdemeanors in two cases. Grace represented the man at pretrial conferences in the matters. On the day that additional court conferences were to be held, the man called Grace and said he would not be able to appear in court because he was ill. Grace told the man that because of prior adjournments in the case, the court would require a doctor’s excuse, and that the court might issue a bench warrant for the client’s arrest.
At the conferences, the court issued a bench warrant against the client for bail jumping because of the repeated adjournments. Grace failed to ascertain whether the court issued a bench warrant, and he failed to communicate with the client about the warrant. Six weeks later, the client was arrested and spent time in jail. Grace withdrew from the case after the client filed a grievance. The client subsequently made repeated requests for his files, but Grace failed to respond or provide the information.
Grace violated SCR 20:1.3 and 20:1.4(a)(3) by failing to ascertain whether any adverse implications arose from the client’s nonappearance and to then relay the information to the client. Grace violated SCR 20:1.16(d) by failing to respond to the requests for the case file.
In 2004 and 1999, Grace received private reprimands, in part for neglecting legal matters entrusted to him.
Disciplinary proceedings against James E. Hammis
In a decision dated Jan. 20, 2011, the supreme court suspended the law license of James E. Hammis, Stoughton, for four months, effective March 1, 2011. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Hammis, 2011 WI 3. Hammis was further ordered to pay the cost of the disciplinary action and, within six months of the date of the order, to complete an OLR-approved office management course.
In connection with his representation of a criminal defendant, obtained by State Public Defender (SPD) appointment, Hammis violated SCR 20:1.16(d) by failing to address the client’s request for a copy of the case file on termination of the attorney-client relationship. Hammis violated SCR 20:8.4(c) by overbilling the SPD for his work on the case.
In violation of SCR 31.10(1) and 20:8.4(f), Hammis appeared in court on behalf of several clients when his law license was administratively suspended for noncompliance with CLE requirements. In one instance, Hammis knowingly made a false statement to a circuit court judge regarding his ability to appear before the court, contrary to former SCR 20:3.3(a)(1).
Hammis made a false statement to the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE) regarding the timing of his attendance at a particular CLE course, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c). He violated SCR 22.26(1) and 20:8.4(f) when he failed to notify clients, courts, and opposing counsel of his CLE suspension.
In connection with his representation of a client in a civil matter, Hammis violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m)
by failing to follow required steps in the handling of the client’s advance-fee payment and violated SCR 20:1.16(d) by failing to timely refund the unearned portion of the fee on termination of representation.
Hammis violated SCR 22.03(2) and 20:8.4(h) by failing to cooperate with the OLR’s investigation efforts.
Hammis had no prior discipline.