Vol. 85, No. 4, April 2012
Disciplinary proceeding against Michael J. Hicks
On Feb. 10, 2012, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a public reprimand of Michael J. Hicks, Milwaukee. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Hicks, 2012 WI 11.
Hicks' public reprimand was based on professional misconduct he committed in connection with representation of three clients he was appointed to represent through the Office of the State Public Defender.
In each of the three client matters, Hicks 1) violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to timely pursue his client's postconviction or appellate interests or to timely close the case, file a no-merit report, or withdraw from the case so that the client could represent himself or herself or hire counsel; 2) violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(2), (3), and (4) and SCR 20:1.4(b) by failing to communicate with the client; and 3) violated SCR 22.03(2) and (6) via SCR 20:8.4(h) by failing to timely respond to the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), and responding only after the OLR obtained an order to show cause why Hicks' license to practice law in Wisconsin should not be suspended as a result of his failure to respond.
Hicks had no prior discipline.
Disciplinary proceeding against Arik J. Guenther
On Feb. 10, 2012, the supreme court suspended the law license of Arik J. Guenther, Jackson, for 90 days and ordered him to pay the full cost of the disciplinary proceeding. In addition, the court imposed conditions intended to address Guenther's alcohol-related problems. Reinstatement of Guenther's law license will depend on his compliance with the conditions imposed by the court. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Guenther, 2012 WI 10.
Guenther did not file an answer to the complaint filed by the OLR. The supreme court determined that the OLR was entitled to a default judgment and found facts based on the allegations in the disciplinary complaint, which covered events occurring between February 2007 and June 2010 that were the subject of four criminal prosecutions. As a result of earlier disciplinary actions, Guenther's law license was suspended throughout the subject period, and remains suspended.
By engaging in conduct in a domestic dispute in February 2007 that resulted in his criminal conviction for misdemeanor disorderly conduct, Guenther violated SCR 20:8.4(b), which prohibits an attorney from engaging in criminal conduct that reflects adversely on honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects. Guenther violated SCR 21.15(5) and SCR 20:8.4(f) by failing to provide the OLR and the supreme court clerk with written notice within five days of his conviction in the matter.
By engaging in conduct in February 2009 that violated the terms of his bond in the disorderly conduct case, and led to a misdemeanor bail-jumping conviction, Guenther violated SCR 20:8.4(b). Guenther failed to provide the required notice of his conviction to the OLR and the supreme court clerk, in violation of SCR 21.15(5) and SCR 20:8.4(f), and failed to cooperate with the OLR investigation of this matter, in violation of SCR 22.03(2) and (6) and 20:8.4(h).
By breaching a condition of his bond by failing to maintain absolute sobriety, which resulted in a felony bail-jumping conviction, Guenther violated SCR 20:8.4(b). Guenther failed to provide the required notice of his conviction to the OLR and the supreme court clerk, in violation of SCR 21.15(5) and SCR 20:8.4(f), and failed to cooperate with the OLR investigation of the matter, in violation of SCR 22.03(2) and (6) and 20:8.4(h).
Guenther violated SCR 20:8.4(b) by committing the elements of the crimes of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (second offense) and operating a motor vehicle with a prohibited alcohol concentration (second offense), by operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.213. He violated a court-ordered absolute-sobriety condition of bond by consuming alcohol and thereby violated SCR 20:3.4(c). Guenther failed to provide the required notice to the OLR and the supreme court clerk within five days of his misdemeanor conviction for operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration and so, notwithstanding the subsequent vacation of the conviction and reinstatement of all charges on Dec. 16, 2010, he was found to have violated SCR 21.15(5) and SCR 20:8.4(f).
Guenther's prior discipline included three private reprimands (in 1989, 2001, and 2002), a public reprimand in 2007, an eight-month license suspension in 2005, and a nine-month suspension in 2009.
Denial of reinstatement of Jane A. Edgar
On March 1, 2012, the supreme court denied Jane A. Edgar's petition for reinstatement of her Wisconsin law license and ordered her to pay the cost of the reinstatement proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Edgar, 2012 WI 19.
On March 22, 1999, the court suspended Edgar's license to practice law for two years for professional misconduct consisting of conversion of funds, improper commingling of funds, and false certification concerning the existence and maintenance of a trust account and related records. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Edgar, 230 Wis. 2d 205. Edgar never sought reinstatement from that suspension. In 2003, the court suspended her license for an additional year, retroactive to March 22, 2001, for misconduct consisting of multiple violations of several rules. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Edgar, 2003 WI 49. On Sept. 20, 2010, Edgar filed a petition seeking reinstatement of her license to practice law.
The referee assigned to hear this matter found that Edgar met some, but not all, of the criteria for reinstatement. More specifically, the referee found that Edgar failed to demonstrate she could meet the standards of SCR 22.29(4)(f) and (g). The referee also found that Edgar had never been in full compliance with SCR 22.26. The referee further found that Edgar had not demonstrated she had satisfied additional court-ordered reinstatement requirements.
The court adopted the referee's findings of fact and conclusions of law and accepted the referee's recommendation that Edgar's reinstatement petition be denied.