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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 79, No. 9, September 2006

    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.

    Public Reprimand of Lori Schmitz

    The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and Lori Schmitz, 33, Milwaukee, agreed to the imposition of a public reprimand pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A referee appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court thereafter approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on July 6, 2006, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).

    Schmitz was subpoenaed to testify at a John Doe proceeding regarding an incident in which she was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a high speed chase with police. At the conclusion of the chase, Schmitz remained in the vehicle and the driver jumped into the Milwaukee River and escaped. At the time of the police stop, Schmitz did not identify the driver.

    At the John Doe hearing, although Schmitz was granted immunity from prosecution, she declined to answer questions about the incident, including the identity of the driver. The presiding judge ordered Schmitz to answer the question regarding the driver's identity, but Schmitz refused to do so, and the court ordered her jailed until she answered. When the John Doe proceeding reconvened the next day, Schmitz appeared and identified a former boyfriend as the driver. Schmitz was then asked questions about the identity of other persons present with her before the high speed chase, at which point Schmitz became argumentative and used profane language, even after the court ordered her to answer. Schmitz ultimately answered and was released from custody.

    By initially failing to answer the question regarding the driver's identity after being ordered to answer, and by arguing with the court and using profane language in connection with further questioning, Schmitz knowingly disobeyed an obligation under the rules of a tribunal, in violation of SCR 20:3.4(c). She also failed to maintain respect due to courts and judicial officers, contrary to SCR 20:8.4(g) and 40.15.

    Two months after the John Doe proceeding, Schmitz was subpoenaed to appear as a witness at the preliminary hearing in the criminal case brought against the driver. Schmitz did not appear (later citing asserted health concerns that were not relayed to the presiding court commissioner at the time of the preliminary hearing), and a body attachment was issued for her arrest. Schmitz was arrested pursuant to the body attachment, and she appeared in custody and testified at the adjourned preliminary hearing. Schmitz's failure to appear pursuant to the subpoena constituted a further violation of SCR 20:3.4(c) and 40.15.

    Schmitz had no prior discipline.

    Public Reprimand of Guy W. Fredel

    The OLR and Guy W. Fredel, 54, Mosinee, agreed to an imposition of a public reprimand pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A referee appointed by the supreme court thereafter approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on July 18, 2006, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).

    A woman retained Fredel to represent her in a divorce action. The client hired Fredel in part to complete a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) for her during post-divorce proceedings, so that she would receive a portion of her ex-husband's pension fund. She also hired Fredel to handle a foreclosure action on her home.

    Fredel prepared a draft QDRO on Feb. 3, 2003. Fredel did nothing more on the QDRO until February 2005. Fredel filed the QDRO on Feb. 23, 2005, after notice from the pension provider that the client's share of the pension would not be held after March 31, 2005. The funds were disbursed to the client in July 2005.

    On Feb. 4, 2003, Fredel filed an answer in the foreclosure action. On Feb. 13, 2004, the plaintiff's counsel sent interrogatories and requests for production of documents to Fredel. Though the responses were due by March 20, 2004, Fredel did not send these discovery requests to the client until March 19, 2004. Because the client was away on vacation from March 17-27, 2004, she did not receive the package from Fredel until after she returned. The client and Fredel did not complete the responses and Fredel did not request an extension of time in which to respond to the requests.

    On July 16, 2004, the plaintiff in the foreclosure action filed a motion for summary judgment. Fredel did not send the motion to the client or inform her of it. Fredel did not respond to the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. On Aug. 19, 2004, the court issued an order granting the plaintiff's motion, and judgment was entered against Fredel's client. Fredel never informed the client of the summary judgment. The client first learned judgment had been entered against her after she discovered a public notice of foreclosure sale in February 2005. The client filed a motion for an emergency stay. The court granted the emergency stay and granted the client a full six-month redemption period.

    By failing to file the QDRO until two years after he was retained, Fredel violated SCR 20:1.3. By failing to timely provide the client with the adverse party's discovery requests and, thereafter, failing to provide the adverse party with responses to the requests, Fredel violated SCR 20:3.4(d). By failing to file a response to the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, Fredel violated SCR 20:1.3. By failing to inform the client of the summary judgment motion and its implications, and by failing to inform the client of the court's entry of summary judgment and its significance, Fredel violated SCR 20:1.4(a) and 20:1.4(b).

    Fredel received a private reprimand in 1995 for violating SCR 20:1.3 in a situation involving a lack of diligence in representing a client in a probate matter.

    Public Reprimand of Michael G. Trewin

    The supreme court suspended Michael G. Trewin's law license for five months, effective Aug. 31, 2004, and ordered him to comply with the requirements of SCR 22.26. Trewin signed an affidavit required by SCR 22.26(1), (3) that stated:

    "That I have complied with all of the provisions of SCR 22.26, as I have notified all clients that my license to practice law has been suspended, and have informed the courts in which I previously had pending matters of the suspension."

    The affidavit also stated "That the following is a list of all pending matters, prior to August 31, 2004, that I was involved in:" and listed matters involving several clients. Later, Trewin filed an affidavit in which he stated that he mistakenly omitted five cases from his prior affidavit. The affidavit listed those five cases.

    Trewin failed to notify the court and opposing counsel of his suspension before the effective date of his suspension in several cases. Investigation further revealed that Trewin failed to notify the court in three additional cases of his suspension before its effective date.

    Trewin represented F&M Bank in F&M Bank v. Vaughan (Waupaca County Case # 2004CV000229). He also represented the petitioners in a bankruptcy proceeding (In Re Groshek, Bankruptcy Case #1-04-11858 W.D. Wis.). F&M Bank was a creditor of the bankruptcy petitioners; its interest in the bankruptcy was adverse to that of the petitioners. Trewin simultaneously represented both parties from June 14, 2004, to at least Aug. 30, 2004.

    By failing to list all matters pending before any court in his affidavit of Sept. 22, 2004, Trewin violated SCR 20:8.4(f) and 22.26(1)(e)(iii). By failing to notify the court and attorneys for other parties in writing on or before the suspension effective date concerning his inability to act as an attorney after the effective date, Trewin violated SCR 20:8.4(f) and 22.26(1)(c). By representing clients with adverse interests, Trewin violated SCR 20:1.7(a).

    In July 2004, Trewin's law license was suspended for five months. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Trewin, 2004 WI 116.

    Public Reprimand of Richard W. Voss

    The OLR and Richard W. Voss, Rhinelander, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A referee appointed by the supreme court thereafter approved the agreement, and issued the public reprimand on July 9, 2006, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3). The public reprimand stemmed from two matters investigated by the OLR.

    In the first matter, Voss represented a client on claims against a contractor, who did business under two company names, and the contractor's insurer. The claims proceeded to litigation. Voss represented the client pursuant to a contingent fee agreement that was not reduced to writing, contrary to SCR 20:1.5(c). The client advanced funds for payment of costs, which Voss said were run through his trust account, but Voss could produce no trust account records related to those funds, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(c)(5)(e) (effective through June 30, 2004) and current SCR 20:1.15(e)(6). Voss did not respond to written OLR inquiries concerning the trust account records until he was personally served, in violation of SCR 22.03(6) and 20:8.4(f).

    Voss failed to take steps in the litigation to personally link the contractor to the alleged defective construction at the client's home, contrary to SCR 20:1.1. In violation of SCR 20:1.3, Voss arrived late for a hearing on a motion to dismiss the contractor, and when the court nonetheless allowed him to be heard on the motion, Voss presented no evidence to support his opposition to the motion. In violation of SCR 20:1.4(a), Voss did not inform his client of the motion to dismiss, the motion hearing, or the dismissal of the contractor from the suit. Voss again violated SCR 20:1.4(a) when he failed to inform the client of the court's granting of a motion to dismiss the insurer and the dismissal of the suit. After the client learned of the dismissal of the suit from a source other than Voss, the client and then successor counsel requested the case file. Voss did not timely address the request for the complete case file, in violation of SCR 20:1.16(d).

    The second matter stemmed from an overdraft on Voss's trust account that occurred when a check deposited in the trust account was returned by the maker's bank because of a missing endorsement. The OLR's investigation of the overdraft uncovered several record keeping and other deficiencies related to the trust account, which provided evidence of violations of SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)a., 20:1.15(f)(1)a., 20:1.15(f)(1)b., former and current 20:1.15(c)(1), 13.04, and 20:8.4(f).

    Voss received a private reprimand in December 2004 for violations of SCR 20:1.1 and 20:1.4(a) that occurred in the course of representing a plaintiff in a lawsuit.

    Disciplinary Proceedings against Joseph L. Young

    In a July 27, 2006 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded Joseph L. Young, Vesper. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Young, 2006 WI 109.

    Young failed to file state income tax returns for the years 1996 through 2003, thereby violating a supreme court decision regulating the conduct of lawyers, contrary to SCR 20:8.4(f). See, e.g., Disciplinary Proceedings Against Owens, 172 Wis. 2d 54, 56-57, 492 N.W.2d 157 (1992) (failure to file income tax returns constitutes professional misconduct). Young failed to respond to the OLR's investigative requests, in violation of SCR 22.03(2), 22.03(6), and 20:8.4(f).

    In the disciplinary action, Young and the OLR stipulated as to the misconduct findings and to the appropriateness of discipline at the public reprimand level. The OLR did not request the imposition of costs, and none were imposed against Young. In addition to imposing the public reprimand, the court ordered Young to file written quarterly reports with the OLR that describe his efforts and progress in filing the delinquent tax returns and paying the appropriate taxes. Young is to file the quarterly reports until he certifies to the OLR that he has either filed all of the required tax returns or entered into an agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue that resolves all tax filing and tax payment issues. The court stated that Young's failure to comply with this condition or to make reasonable progress toward resolving his tax delinquencies may provide the basis for the imposition of further discipline.

    Young had no prior discipline.

    Disciplinary Proceedings against Arthur L. Schuh

    In an order dated July 27, 2006, the supreme court summarily suspended the law license of Arthur L. Schuh, effective the date of the order and pending final disposition of a disciplinary proceeding or until further order of the court, following Schuh's guilty plea to felony charges of distributing a controlled substance and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Supreme Court Case No. 2006XX549-D.