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    Vol. 78, No. 9, September 2005

    Lawyer Discipline

    The Office of Lawyer Regulation (formerly known as the Board of Attorneys Professional Responsibility), an agency of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and component of the lawyer regulation system, assists the court in carrying out its constitutional responsibility to supervise the practice of law and protect the public from misconduct by persons practicing law in Wisconsin. The Office of Lawyer Regulation has offices located at Suite 315, 110 E. Main St., Madison, WI 53703, and Suite 300, 342 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202. Toll-free telephone: (877) 315-6941.

    Disciplinary Proceedings against Michelle L. Tully

    On July 6, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Michelle L. Tully for two years, effective Aug. 17, 2005, for committing 29 counts of professional misconduct involving six grievance matters. The court also ordered that Tully pay the $1,878.01 cost of the disciplinary proceeding and restitution to one client in the amount of $1,306 and that she attend continuing legal education (CLE) courses during the suspension. As a condition of her reinstatement, the court ordered that Tully demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between her misconduct and the consequences for her clients as well as the damage to the public's perception of the legal profession. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Tully, 2005 WI 100.

    Tully's law license was suspended on June 3, 2002, for her failure to comply with mandatory CLE requirements. She was reinstated from that suspension on Dec. 20, 2002. Tully's law license was again suspended on May 15, 2003, for her failure to cooperate with two Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) grievance investigations. Tully's license has remained suspended since that date.

    Tully failed to file an answer to the OLR's amended complaint and did not appear during a telephone hearing before the referee. The court adopted the referee's findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommended level of discipline. Tully's misconduct included three violations of SCR 20:1.3 for lack of diligence in three separate client matters; four violations of SCR 20:1.4(a) for failing to respond to reasonable requests for information from clients; and three violations of SCR 20:1.16(d) for failing to take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect clients' interests upon termination of representation, including failure to timely return two clients' unearned fees, failure to timely return one client's file, and failure to notify a client and insurance companies involved in personal injury actions of her withdrawal from representation.

    Tully's misconduct also included four violations of SCR 31.10(1) for practicing during her CLE suspension in four separate matters and four violations of SCR 20:8.4(c). The SCR 20:8.4(c) violations involved three instances of failing to disclose on her Board of Bar Examiners sworn petition for reinstatement her representation of a client during her CLE suspension and one count for converting client funds, by disbursing to herself $1,233.34 more in attorney fees from a client's settlement than she was entitled to receive. Tully also violated former SCR 20:1.15(a) by failing to maintain a client trust account in an institution licensed to do business in Wisconsin, former SCR 20:1.15(b) by failing to pay a client's two medical creditors after withholding the amounts due those creditors from the client's settlement proceeds, SCR 22.26(1)(a) and (b) by failing to notify a client of Tully's suspension and advise him to seek legal advice elsewhere, SCR 22.26(1)(c) by failing to provide notice of her suspension to a court in a pending matter, and SCR 22.26(2) by continuing to represent a client after her law license was temporarily suspended.

    Finally, Tully's misconduct included six counts of failing to cooperate with OLR investigations. Tully failed to file written responses in three OLR investigations, failed to file written supplemental responses in the other three matters, and also failed to respond to district committee requests for information.

    In issuing the two-year suspension, the court noted that Tully had engaged in multiple counts of misconduct involving multiple clients and had repeatedly practiced law when she knew her license was suspended, thereby exhibiting a blatant disregard for the court's rules and orders.

    Disciplinary Proceedings against Mark E. Robinson

    On June 24, 2005, the supreme court suspended the law license of Mark E. Robinson, Janesville, for six months, effective Aug. 6, 2005. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Robinson, 2005 WI 88. The court also ordered Robinson to pay the full costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

    Robinson's misconduct occurred in the context of multiple real estate transactions, some involving property in which he had an ownership interest. Robinson engaged in multiple conflicts of interest, contrary to SCR 20:1.7(a) and (b). In more than one instance, Robinson engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, contrary to SCR 20:8.4(c). In one instance, Robinson violated SCR 20:5.3(c)(1) by instructing his legal assistant to engage in conduct that would have violated SCR 20:8.4(c) had Robinson engaged in the conduct himself. In one of the matters, Robinson also violated SCR 20:8.4(a) by attempting to have direct contact with a represented party, which is prohibited under SCR 20:4.2.

    Disciplinary Proceedings against Joseph Engl

    In an opinion filed July 6, 2005, the supreme court publicly reprimanded Joseph Engl, 29, West Allis, for a violation of SCR 20:8.4(b), which states that 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. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Engl, 2005 WI 102. The order of discipline was consistent with a stipulation filed by Engl and the OLR pursuant to SCR 22.12.

    In April 2004, while working at his former law firm, Engl entered an Internet chat room where he engaged in a conversation with a detective posing as a 14-year-old girl. Engl expressed interest in having sex with the purported girl and arranged to meet her that evening. Engl was arrested when he arrived at the prearranged meeting place, and he was subsequently charged and convicted of one count of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, a Class D felony.

    In imposing discipline at the public reprimand level, the court cited mitigating circumstances, including the absence of prior discipline, Engl's cooperation with law enforcement and the OLR, and the fact that the misconduct occurred at a time when Engl was under extreme stress, stemming from long work hours and the recent death of Engl's mother. Engl was fired from the firm where he worked at the time of his misconduct. Three therapists who evaluated Engl opined that Engl was unlikely to re-offend.

    Disciplinary Proceedings against Arik J. Guenther

    By order dated July 19, 2005, the supreme court suspended the law license of Arik J. Guenther, 51, formerly of Campbellsport and now of Fond du Lac, for eight months, effective Aug. 30, 2005. Guenther also was ordered to pay $16,207.21, the cumulative costs of two disciplinary proceedings. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Guenther, 2005 WI 133.

    The court's order concerned two separate but related disciplinary actions in which the respective referees had recommended a six-month and a two-month suspension and had collectively found a total of 15 counts of misconduct. Although the referee in the second matter recommended that the two-month suspension run concurrent with the six-month suspension, the court ruled that the suspensions would be consecutive.

    The first two counts concerned Guenther's representation of a client in a divorce and custody matter. Guenther attended a hearing to amend a temporary custody order without his client being aware of the hearing. A temporary order was entered that significantly amended visitation. Guenther did not promptly notify his client of the change, with the result that when the opposing party arrived at the client's house several days later to pick up a child in accord with the new order, a dispute arose and the police had to be called. Guenther subsequently told the client he had filed a motion to change the amended order, but he never did so. Guenther thereby failed to keep a client reasonably informed, contrary to SCR 20:1.4(a); and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, or misrepresentation, contrary to SCR 20:8.4(c).

    Disciplinary counts 3 through 5 involved Guenther's handling of trust account funds for another divorce client. After the representation ended, Guenther failed to provide an accurate accounting of the client's funds still held in trust, removed more fees than he was owed, and failed to provide an accurate accounting to the OLR, in violation of SCR 20:1.15(b), 20:1.15(d), and 22.03(6). Counts 6 through 8 arose out of the OLR's review of Guenther's trust account records and involved a failure to maintain complete trust account records, contrary to SCR 20:1.15(e); a failure to submit complete records for the OLR's inspection, contrary to SCR 20:1.15(f); and a false certification that he was retaining required trust account records, contrary to SCR 20:1.15(g). Counts 9 through 13 arose from numerous trust account discrepancies involving a dozen clients and involved failures to hold client funds in trust, contrary to SCR 20:1.15(a); a failure to cooperate with the OLR's investigation, contrary to SCR 22.03(6); dishonest or fraudulent conduct, contrary to SCR 20:8.4(c); and a failure to appropriately supervise a nonlawyer's conduct, contrary to SCR 20:5.3(a).

    The final two counts dealt with a collection matter Guenther was handling for a client. Guenther failed to properly deposit and record the funds he received and failed to document the amounts he was forwarding to the client or paying himself for fees. Guenther engaged in misconduct by failing to hold client funds in trust, contrary to SCR 20:1.15(a); and by failing to provide requested trust account records for the OLR's inspection, contrary to SCR 20:1.15(f).

    The court noted that Guenther had previously received three private reprimands. Guenther was ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings and to file quarterly trust account reports with the OLR for two years as a condition of reinstatement.

    Disciplinary Proceedings against Charles J. Hausmann

    On July 19, 2005, the supreme court suspended the law license of Charles J. Hausmann, Milwaukee, for one year, effective Aug. 30, 2005, for having committed two counts of professional misconduct as alleged in a complaint filed by the OLR. Hausmann also was ordered to pay the $14,431.78 costs of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Charles J. Hausmann, 2004AP156-D.

    A referee and the court found, and Hausmann stipulated, that Hausmann engaged in a conflict of interest by representing a client when that representation was materially limited by Hausmann's own interests. Hausmann concealed from his clients an arrangement with a chiropractor, whereby the chiropractor returned a portion of the clients' medical fees to Hausmann. This arrangement deprived Hausmann's clients of the "intangible right to honest services."

    Hausmann also stipulated to committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on a lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer, based on his conviction of federal felony conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2 and 2314. That charge arose from Hausmann's financial arrangement with the chiropractor that called for the chiropractor to write checks at Hausmann's direction, equaling approximately 20 percent of the medical bills collected by the chiropractic center. Hausmann failed to disclose that arrangement to his clients, thereby depriving his clients of their intangible right to honest services. As a result of his conviction, Hausmann was sentenced to two months' imprisonment, 16 months of supervised release, and 40 hours of community service. Hausmann also was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay restitution to his clients in the amount of $77,062.87 jointly and severally. Hausmann personally paid the full restitution.

    The referee recommended, and the court ordered, that Hausmann's Wisconsin law license be suspended for one year. Although the referee commended Hausmann for his charitable work, the referee criticized Hausmann for his poor judgment and disturbing positions, which failed to recognize the conflict of interest and the effect of his actions on his law firm and the legal profession.

    Disciplinary Proceedings against Richard Bolte

    In a July 19, 2005 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Richard Bolte and ordered him to pay the $23,234.64 costs of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Bolte, 2005 WI 132.

    Bolte's Wisconsin law license has been inactive since 1989. Bolte is not licensed in Colorado, where, in violation of Wisconsin SCR 20:5.5(a), he performed legal services for a woman in connection with amounts paid to her by an energy company pursuant to a mineral rights lease. When Bolte sought more money from the woman than she was willing to pay for his services, the woman sued Bolte, seeking to void their contract based on his unlicensed practice and to recover fees already paid. The Colorado court found in favor of the woman. Before the court issued a writ of execution, Bolte transferred ownership of property he owned in Colorado to a Nevada corporation for no consideration and without notice to the corporation, which was owned by an acquaintance of Bolte's. The property transfer was done in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c), which prohibits conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

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