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    Lawyer Discipline

    These summaries are provided by the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), an agency of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.


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    Public Discipline

    These summaries are provided by the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), an agency of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The OLR assists the court in supervising the practice of law and protecting 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 is at www.wicourts.gov/olr.

    Public Reprimand of Margaret Bach

    In a Nov. 29, 2016 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Margaret Bach, West Allis. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Bach, 2016 WI 95. The court further ordered Bach to pay the $14,765.09 cost of the proceeding.

    Since approximately 2006, Bach engaged in extensive and acrimonious litigation on behalf of her disabled adult son. Before her 2011 admission to the Wisconsin bar, Bach did so in her capacity as her son’s guardian. That status was removed from her in 2011. Bach nonetheless continued to attempt to advocate on her son’s behalf, even after being enjoined by the Milwaukee County Circuit Court on Oct. 16, 2012, from making any filings on her own behalf or her son’s behalf in any proceeding without the circuit court’s prior approval. The Oct. 16, 2012, injunction also prohibited Bach from contacting her son’s health-care providers. By continuing to file lawsuits relating to her son and continuing to communicate with her son’s health-care providers in contravention of the injunction, Bach violated SCR 20:3.4(c).

    By order of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Bach was denied access to her son’s confidential court files. Without prior court approval, Bach ordered confidential transcripts of guardianship court hearings and thereby violated SCR 20:3.4(c).

    Bach had no prior discipline.

    Public Reprimand of Matthew T. Luening

    The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and Matthew T. Luening, Milwaukee, 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 Feb. 28, 2017, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3). This reprimand is based on Luening’s misconduct in four matters.

    In the first matter, in August 2011, a client hired Luening to represent him in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court.

    By failing to file the Form EOIR-42B or any other form of relief by the June 18, 2014, due date, resulting in the Immigration Court dismissing the client’s request for non-LPR (lawful permanent resident) cancellation of removal and the court ordering the removal and deportation of the client, and by otherwise failing to act in furtherance of the client’s interests, Luening violated SCR 20:1.3.

    By having the client sign the Form EOIR-42B before the client appeared in front of an immigration judge in order to file it with the client’s application for a work permit, rather than having the client sign the Form EOIR-42-B in the presence of the immigration judge as required, Luening violated SCR 20:3.4(c).

    In the second matter, in February 2014, a man hired Luening to represent him in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court.

    By failing to prepare and file applications for asylum, withholding of removal, relief under the Convention against Torture, and voluntary departure, resulting in the court finding that the client was prejudiced by ineffective assistance of counsel, and by otherwise failing to act in furtherance of the client’s interests, Luening violated SCR 20:1.3.

    By failing to explain to the client the several forms of relief from removal to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make an informed decision in the removal proceedings, Luening violated SCR 20:1.4(b).

    In the third matter, in April 2015, a client hired Luening to represent him in a child custody and placement matter.

    By failing to keep the client reasonably and accurately informed regarding the status of the case and by failing to promptly respond to the client’s text messages and telephone calls requesting information, Luening violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (4).

    In the fourth matter, in June 2015, a client hired Luening to represent him in a postconviction relief and immigration matter.

    By failing to communicate to the client in writing the scope of his representation or the basis or rate of his fee or expenses for which the client would be responsible and by failing to communicate to the client in writing the purpose and effect of the advanced fees that were paid to him, Luening violated SCR 20:1.5(b)(1) and (2).

    By depositing the advanced-fee payments directly into his business bank account, without acting in a manner indicating an intention to use the alternative-fee-placement measures stated in former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m) (in effect before July 1, 2016), Luening violated former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4) (in effect before July 1, 2016).

    Luening had no prior discipline.

    Public Reprimand of Jerry T. Delcore

    The OLR and Jerry T. Delcore, Racine, agreed to the 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 Feb. 27, 2017, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3). Public Reprimand of Delcore, 2017 OLR 2.

    A woman hired Delcore to represent her in a pending child support matter. Delcore quoted the woman a $600 flat fee, which he deposited into his business account. Delcore intended to comply with the alternative fee provisions of former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m) (in effect before July 1, 2016), but he failed to provide the woman with notices required by former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m).

    Delcore also provided the woman with inconsistent and confusing information regarding the rate and basis of his fees, including a letter that asserted that the $600 fee was an advance payment of hourly fees and that the $600 was “non-refundable,” when SCR 20:1.16(d) and former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m)a.4. (in effect before July 1, 2016) required Delcore to refund any unearned fees should the representation terminate before the matter was completed. The letter also asserted, “If I receive more contacts from you than are necessary, they will be taken into consideration on your Invoice,” but did not include any clarification for what contacts would be “necessary.”

    After a court commissioner declined to issue an order on pending child support motions, the woman asked Delcore to file a motion for de novo review. Delcore quoted the woman an additional $500 flat fee for representing the woman with regard to the motion for de novo review. The woman paid the $500, which Delcore again deposited in his business account without providing the woman with any of the notices required by former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m)a.

    After the woman terminated the representation, Delcore did not provide the woman with an accounting or the notices required by former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m) b.

    By failing to clearly and accurately communicate the rate and basis of his fees to the woman and by including misleading and confusing terms about his fees in his communications with her, Delcore violated SCR 20:1.5(b)(1).

    Delcore violated former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m)a. and b. (in effect before July 1, 2016) by failing to provide the woman with all required notices and an accounting.

    In 2008, Delcore received a private reprimand for violations of SCR 20:1.1 and 20:1.4(b). In 2014, Delcore received a public reprimand for violations of SCR 20:1.3, SCR 20:1.4(b), and former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4) (in effect before July 1, 2016).

    Disciplinary Proceedings Against Adam Walsh

    On March 23, 2017, pursuant to a petition for consensual revocation, the supreme court revoked the law license of Adam Walsh, effective March 23, 2017. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Walsh, 2017 WI 24. The revocation was based on Walsh’s inability to successfully defend against allegations of misconduct arising from two investigations, one relating to his trust account and the other to his representation of a client in a post-conviction matter.

     On multiple occasions in 2014 and 2015, Walsh’s trust account contained substantially less money than it should have. For example, on May 31, 2014, there was $469,349.55 in the trust account; however Walsh should have been holding from $50,000 to $78,000 more than that. In addition, based on the limited records that the OLR was able to obtain, Walsh deposited more than $589,000 into the trust account regarding a trust, but disbursed only $530,000 to the trust’s beneficiaries. Walsh also admitted to the OLR that he had deposited substantial sums of his own money into the trust account. Walsh failed to produce trust account records requested by the OLR and stated that he was no longer practicing law and did not have any.

    The OLR was investigating possible violations of SCR 20:8.4(c), SCR 20:1.15(b)(1), and former SCR 20:1.15(b)(3), (e)(4)c., (e)(6) and (7), and (f)(1)a., b. and g. in connection with Walsh’s trust account.

    With respect to the post-conviction matter, Walsh received a $1,500 advanced fee and deposited it into his business account but failed to provide the notices to the client required by former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m). He also failed to communicate the results of his legal research to the client, notify the client that he was ceasing his law practice, and provide a final accounting showing how the fee was earned. The OLR’s investigation of this matter involved possible violations of SCR 20:1.3, SCR 20:1.4(a), SCR 20:1.16(d), and former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m).

    In 2015, Walsh received a consensual private reprimand based on trust account violations.

    Private Discipline

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court permits the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) to publish, for educational purposes, a summary of facts and professional conduct rule violations in matters in which the OLR imposed private reprimands. The summaries do not disclose information identifying the reprimanded attorneys. The summaries of selected private reprimands are printed to help attorneys avoid similar misconduct problems.

    Failing to Communicate in Writing the Expenses for which Client would be Responsible; Failing to Deposit Advanced Fee and Costs Into Client Trust Account; Failing to Promptly Refund

    Violations of SCR 20:1.5(b)(1), former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4) (in effect before July 1, 2016), and SCR 20:1.16(d)

    A lawyer represented a man in a criminal case.The lawyer’s written fee agreement did not communicate the expenses for which the client would be responsible. The lawyer deposited the client’s advanced-fee and advanced-costs payments directly into his business bank account. Even though there was never a trial, the lawyer did not promptly refund any portion of a $7,500 advanced fee, which the client had paid to him for representation at trial.

    By failing to communicate in the written agreement the expenses for which the client would be responsible during the representation, the lawyer violated SCR 20:1.5(b)(1).

    By depositing the client’s advanced fees directly into his law office general business bank account, without acting in a manner indicating an intention to use the alternative-fee-placement measures stated in former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m) (in effect before July 1, 2016), and by depositing the client’s advanced-costs payment for an expert fee into his law office general business bank account, the lawyer in each instance violated former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4) (in effect before July 1, 2016).

    Having received a $3,000 advanced fee as “a simple inclusive up front flat fee (if case is settled without trial),” and then obtaining an additional $7,500 advanced fee in contemplation of trial, after which the case was resolved pursuant to a plea agreement without the commencement of any trial, by failing to make a prompt refund of a portion of the $7,500 advanced fee, the lawyer violated SCR 20:1.16(d).

    The lawyer had a prior suspension.

    Criminal Conviction Reflecting on Fitness to Practice

    Violation of SCR 20:8.4(b)

    After attending a sporting event and parade following a team’s victory in a championship competition, a lawyer wearing the team’s colors took a train to visit a family member. While on the train, another passenger taunted the lawyer on the basis of team allegiance. The lawyer responded by punching the other passenger in the face. The victim of the punch was an off-duty police officer, who was accompanied by another off-duty police officer. Neither officer was in uniform. After the lawyer was handcuffed and seated on a curb, the lawyer allegedly pushed against the second officer’s leg. The lawyer was arrested.

    Before and during the altercation, neither officer indicated to the lawyer a connection to any law enforcement entity. There was no evidence suggesting serious injury to either officer.

    The lawyer was eventually convicted of a crime in connection with the punch but not the alleged shove against the second officer’s leg. The lawyer paid the fine assessed by the court.

    By engaging in the conduct leading to his criminal conviction, the lawyer violated SCR 20:8.4(b).

    The lawyer had no prior discipline.

    Lack of Diligence; Failing to Communicate; Conduct Involving Dishonesty, Fraud, Deceit, or Misrepresentation

    Violations of SCR 20:1.3, SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (4), and SCR 20:8.4(c)

    A lawyer represented a client facing several felony charges in a criminal case. As a part of the defense, the client requested that the lawyer obtain the client’s arrest, conviction, and incarceration records in another state. The lawyer represented to the client that the lawyer would obtain the records and then failed to do so. Additionally, the lawyer made misrepresentations and untruthful statements to the client with respect to obtaining the records and documents.

    Throughout the representation, the client had requested that the lawyer schedule telephone calls with the client at the correctional institution. During the entirety of the representation, the lawyer never scheduled any telephone calls with the client at the correctional institution.

    By failing to obtain the client’s arrest, conviction, and incarceration records in another state, which were necessary for presenting the client’s defense, and by otherwise failing to act in furtherance of the client’s interests in the case, the lawyer violated SCR 20:1.3.

    By failing to keep the client reasonably informed regarding the status of the case and by failing to comply with the client’s requests to schedule telephone calls via the correctional institution in order to discuss the case, the lawyer violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (4).

    By making misrepresentations and untruthful statements to the client with respect to obtaining documents and records in the case, the lawyer violated SCR 20:8.4(c).

    The lawyer had no prior discipline.

    Criminal Acts Reflecting Adversely on Fitness to Practice

    Violations of SCR 20:8.4(b)

    A lawyer was convicted of second-offense operating while intoxicated (OWI) in August 2015 and third-offense OWI in July 2016.

    With respect to the OWI (second) conviction, a tow truck operator reported the lawyer’s possible intoxication after removing the lawyer’s vehicle from a ditch. Police made contact with the lawyer where the lawyer had parked the vehicle. The lawyer failed field-sobriety tests and was arrested. The result of a chemical test of the lawyer’s breath was 0.10. The lawyer’s OWI (second) sentence included five days in jail with Huber privileges, driver’s license revocation for 12 months, and ignition-interlock-device installation for 12 months. The lawyer was further ordered to undergo an alcohol assessment and pay a fine.

    With respect to the OWI (third) conviction, police officers were dispatched to a vehicle in a turn lane with a driver who appeared to be passed out. Police located the lawyer’s vehicle, which was running and in drive. The lawyer was breathing but unresponsive. Police used a tool to open the locked door and woke up the lawyer. The lawyer failed field-sobriety tests and was arrested. The result of a chemical test of the lawyer’s breath was 0.17. The lawyer’s OWI (third) sentence included 90 days in jail with Huber privileges, driver’s license revocation for 27 months, and ignition-interlock-device installation for 27 months. The lawyer was further ordered to undergo an alcohol assessment and pay a fine.

    By engaging in conduct leading to misdemeanor convictions of second- and third-offense OWI, the lawyer, in each instance, violated SCR 20:8.4(b).

    The lawyer had no prior discipline.

    Criminal Acts Reflecting Adversely on Fitness to Practice

    Violations of SCR 20:8.4(b)

    A lawyer was charged with felony possession of narcotic drugs and misdemeanor possession of an illegally obtained prescription drug as the result of a reverse prescription-medication operation.

    In September 2016, the lawyer pleaded guilty to the felony possession of narcotic drugs charge and entered into an 18-month deferred prosecution agreement. The lawyer pleaded no contest to two counts of misdemeanor possession of an illegally obtained prescription drug. The court found the lawyer guilty, but withheld sentence. The lawyer was placed on 18 months’ probation. Under the terms of the agreement, the lawyer was required to commit no further acts that rise to the level of probable cause of a violation of the criminal laws or ordinances of the state of Wisconsin, maintain absolute sobriety, and successfully complete probation on the two misdemeanor counts.

    By engaging in conduct leading to the lawyer being charged with, and pleading guilty to, felony possession of narcotic drugs, the lawyer violated SCR 20:8.4(b).

    By engaging in conduct leading to a conviction of two counts of misdemeanor possession of an illegally obtained prescription drug, the lawyer, with respect to each count, again violated SCR 20:8.4(b).

    The lawyer had no prior discipline.

    Depositing Retainer to Trust Account; Paying Personal Expense from Trust Account via Internet; Failing to Identify Client Matters in Transaction Register

    Violations of SCR 20:1.15(b)(3) and former SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)c. and (f)(1)a.4. (effective before July 1, 2016)

    In August 2014, a lawyer received a $1,500 retainer relating to a nuisance abatement and injunction matter. The fee agreement referred to that payment variably as a “retainer” and a “commitment fee” and specified that it would not be held in the lawyer’s trust account. Under SCR 20:1.0(mm), a retainer becomes the property of the lawyer upon receipt. To avoid spending the $1,500, the lawyer deposited it into the trust account, in violation of SCR 20:1.15(b)(3). Two days later, the lawyer disbursed $1,000 of the retainer by check to the firm’s business account, leaving the remaining $500 in the trust account.

    In September 2014, the lawyer needed to pay a credit card bill of $877.13. Because there were insufficient funds in the lawyer’s business account to do so, the lawyer made an online payment from the trust account, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)c. That payment overdrew the trust account by $249.82 and was reversed by the bank.

    Finally, the lawyer’s trust account transaction register did not identify the client to whom each disbursement related, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(f)(1)a.4.

    The lawyer had prior private and public reprimands and a short-term suspension.

    Criminal Act Reflecting Adversely on Fitness to Practice; Failing to Report Conviction

    Violations of SCR 20:8.4(b) and
    SCR 21.15(5)

    In November, 2015, a lawyer was arrested and charged with third-offense OWI. The lawyer was observed driving recklessly and dangerously. Following a traffic stop, police officers conducted field-sobriety tests, which the lawyer failed. A subsequent blood test showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.224.

    Pursuant to a guilty plea, the lawyer was convicted of OWI (third). The court imposed a one-year straight-time jail sentence, stayed for two years’ probation, with terms including 125 days in jail with Huber privileges, a fine, 75 hours’ community service, license revocation, installation of an ignition-interlock device, and alcohol or other drug abuse assessment. The lawyer did not report the conviction to the OLR or the supreme court clerk within five days after the conviction.

    By engaging in conduct leading to a misdemeanor conviction of OWI (third), the lawyer violated SCR 20:8.4(b).

    By failing to notify in writing the OLR and the supreme court clerk within five days after the conviction of criminal OWI (third), the lawyer violated SCR 21.15(5).

     The lawyer had no prior discipline.

    Criminal Acts Reflecting Adversely on Fitness to Practice; Failing to Timely Notify OLR and Clerk of Supreme Court of Conviction

    Violations of SCR 20:8.4(b) and SCR 21.15(5)

    A lawyer was convicted in 2015 of misdemeanor second-offense OWI, following an accident in which the lawyer’s vehicle struck a snow-plow truck and went down an embankment. The result of the lawyer’s blood-alcohol test was 0.18. The lawyer’s sentence for OWI (second) included 40 days in jail with Huber privileges.

    In 2016, the lawyer was convicted of misdemeanor OWI (third) and two counts of hit-and-run, after two motor vehicle accidents that occurred on the same day. While in the drive-through lane of a restaurant, the lawyer’s vehicle struck a vehicle, left the scene, and moments later struck another vehicle. The lawyer then fled on foot. The lawyer was found unconscious nearby. The result of the lawyer’s blood-alcohol test was 0.181.

    The lawyer’s sentence for OWI (third) included seven months in jail with the first 60 days as straight time and the balance with Huber privileges. The lawyer’s sentence for each hit-and-run conviction included six months in jail imposed and stayed and two years’ probation.

    By engaging in conduct leading to criminal convictions of OWI (second), OWI (third), and two counts of hit-and-run, the lawyer violated SCR 20:8.4(b).

    By failing to provide timely notice of the criminal conviction of OWI (second) to the OLR and the supreme court clerk, the lawyer violated SCR 21.15(5).

    The lawyer had no prior discipline.

    Criminal Act Reflecting Adversely on Fitness to Practice

    Violation of SCR 20:8.4(b)

    In 2016, a lawyer was convicted of OWI (second). Police responded to an address regarding a suspicious vehicle with a possibly intoxicated driver stuck in a snowbank. Upon approaching the address, police observed the lawyer in the driver’s seat of a running vehicle. The lawyer exhibited signs of intoxication, declined to perform field-sobriety tests, and was placed under arrest for OWI. The lawyer’s blood-alcohol concentration was 0.242.

    The lawyer’s sentence included six days in jail, driver’s license revocation for 13 months, and ignition-interlock-device installation for 13 months. The lawyer was also ordered to undergo an alcohol assessment and pay a fine and costs.

    By engaging in conduct leading to a conviction of OWI (second), the lawyer violated SCR 20:8.4(b).

    The lawyer had no prior discipline.

    Failing to Communicate; No Fee Agreement; Failing to Hold Funds in Trust; Failing to Comply With Advanced-fee-placement Alternative; Failing to Protect Clients’ Interests upon Termination of Representation

    Violations of SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (4), SCR 20:1.5(a) and (b)(1) and (2), SCR 20:1.15(b)(1), SCR 20:1.16(d), and former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m) (effective before July 1, 2016)

    A lawyer engaged in misconduct in two matters.

    In the first matter, the lawyer accepted a total payment of $3,700 for a divorce representation. By failing to enter into a written fee agreement, and by depositing the advanced-fee payments into the lawyer’s business account, without acting in a manner indicating an intention to use the alternative advanced-fee-placement measures stated in former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m) (in effect before July 1, 2016), the lawyer violated SCR 20:1.5(b)(1) and (2) and SCR 20:1.15(b)(1), respectively. For a period of time, the lawyer failed to respond to the client’s case-status inquiries in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (4). The lawyer also failed to return the client’s file in violation of SCR 20:1.16(d).

    In the second matter, the lawyer accepted and kept $1,750 for a criminal representation that was not completed, and on which the lawyer expended only 1.3 hours of time, in violation of SCR 20:1.5(a). Having deposited the $1,750 into the lawyer’s business account, and by failing to comply with all parts of the advanced-fee-placement alternative at both the outset and the termination of representation, the lawyer violated former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m)a. and b. The lawyer also failed to refund the unearned portion of the advanced-fee payment, in violation of SCR 20:1.16(d). As a condition of the imposition of the private reprimand, the lawyer refunded $1,425 to the client.

    The lawyer had no prior discipline.

    Conflict of Interest; Failing to Adequately Explain Alternatives to a Client

    Violation of SCR 20:1.7(a)(2) and SCR 20:1.4(b)

    A lawyer owned a business with three other men. One of the men wished to withdraw from the business and entered into a dissolution agreement with the remaining owners. The agreement provided that the remaining owners would indemnify and hold the man harmless against any corporate liabilities or obligations and take reasonable steps to “remove [the man]’s name from any known or ascertainable outstanding vendor or other trade creditor guarantees executed by [the man].”

    Approximately five years later, the company went out of business. When the company ceased operation, it owed one of its vendors for debts incurred after the man divested from the company. The vendor, however, filed suit against the man and the lawyer based on a personal guarantee they had both signed when the business first started. The lawyer represented both himself and the man in the lawsuit. The lawyer acceded to the vendor’s motion for summary judgment. The representation violated SCR 20:1.7(a)(2) because the lawyer’s personal interests materially limited him from providing independent, impartial advice to the man and thereby created a concurrent conflict of interest.

    The lawyer also failed to advise the man of the alternatives available to him to address his liability for the debt, including seeking to enforce his rights of indemnification under the dissolution agreement. The lawyer thereby 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.”

    The lawyer had no prior discipline.

    Failing to Advise Client in Writing of Right to Discharge and Refund; Failing to Inform Client of a Charge of Preparation Fee; Failing to Keep Client Information Confidential

    Reciprocal Discipline, SCR 22.22(2)

    Pursuant to SCR 22.22(2), a lawyer was privately reprimanded in Wisconsin as discipline reciprocal to that imposed in Arizona. The Arizona Supreme Court admonished the lawyer for misconduct consisting of failure to advise a client in writing that the client could discharge the lawyer at any time and be entitled to a refund and failure to sufficiently put the client on notice that a certain fee would be charged, in violation of Arizona Rule 42, ER 1.5; and divulging more confidential information than was necessary while defending against an unfavorable online review posted by his client, in violation of Arizona Rule 42, ER 1.6.

    The lawyer had no prior discipline in Wisconsin.