Disciplinary Proceedings Against Randy Netzer
The Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Randy Netzer, La Crosse, for 90 days, effective March 5, 2014. The court also ordered Netzer to pay the cost of the disciplinary proceeding and set conditions for Netzer’s reinstatement, including a requirement that Netzer obtain a mental health evaluation demonstrating his fitness to practice law. See In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Netzer, 2014 WI 7.
In September 2009, a woman terminated her relationship with Netzer and told him to not try to contact her. Netzer nonetheless sent an email and a postcard to the woman. After the woman contacted the police and claimed that Netzer was stalking her, police officers contacted Netzer and advised him to have no contact of any kind with the woman. When police officers found Netzer jogging near the woman one evening, they arrested him, and he was charged with felony stalking.
A court later issued a harassment injunction against Netzer. After the court issued the injunction, Netzer placed multiple “Happy/Sunshine” ads in a newspaper with personal notes to the woman. The ads violated the no-contact injunction, and as a result, additional charges were filed against Netzer. As part of the conditions of Netzer’s release, Netzer was fitted with a GPS device so that police officers would know if he entered any prohibited areas. Netzer did enter such areas, resulting in a further charge of felony bail jumping.
In April 2011, Netzer pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of violating a harassment injunction. Felony counts of stalking and bail jumping were initially read in for sentencing purposes, but were, much later, entirely dismissed. By engaging in conduct leading to his conviction on misdemeanor counts for violating a harassment injunction, Netzer violated SCR 20:8.4(b), which states, “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.”
Netzer had a prior private reprimand for similar conduct.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Steven T. Berman
On Jan. 3, 2014, the supreme court suspended the law license of Steven T. Berman, Hillsboro, Ohio, for two years. In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Berman, 2014 WI 2.
On April 12, 2013, Berman pleaded guilty to a felony, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. sections 1348, 1349, and 2. Following his conviction, Berman was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and one year of supervised release. United States v. Berman, CR No. 11-10415-NMG (D. Mass.).
By engaging in the conduct leading to his conviction, Berman violated SCR 20:8.4(b).
Berman had no prior discipline.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Christopher Stephen Petros
On Jan. 3, 2014, the supreme court suspended the Wisconsin law license of Christopher Stephen Petros for 90 days, as discipline reciprocal to a 90-day suspension imposed against Petros’s Minnesota law license by the Minnesota Supreme Court in August 2013. In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Petros, 2014 WI 1.
The Minnesota suspension arose out of Petros’s violation of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC). Petros submitted false evidence and made false statements to the director of the Minnesota Office of Lawyer’s Professional Responsibility; failed to notify a client about a hearing; lied to a court through an associate and failed to correct the misrepresentations he caused to be made to the court; failed to timely notify clients of their appeal rights and to tell them that he would not file appeals on their behalf; and failed to diligently pursue a client’s case, communicate with that client, and timely return the client’s property, in violation of MRPC 1.3, 1.4, 1.16(d), 3.3(a)(1), 8.1(a), and 8.4(c) and (d).
Petros had no prior discipline in Wisconsin.