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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    January 01, 2016

    Lawyer 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

    Petition for Reinstatement of Keith E. Broadnax

    A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, at 8:30 a.m., before referee James J. Winiarski at the Milwaukee Bar Association, 424 E. Wells St., Cardozo Room, Milwaukee, on the petition of Keith E. Broadnax, Milwaukee, to reinstate his Wisconsin law license. Any interested person may appear at the hearing and be heard in support of or in opposition to the reinstatement petition.

    On May 6, 1999, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended Broadnax’s Wisconsin law license for two years, commencing June 21, 1999, for misconduct consisting of using cocaine, which violated a 1997 disciplinary order. Broadnax also converted funds intended for his firm and stole another employee’s personal property.

    To be reinstated, Broadnax has the burden of substantiating by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that 1) he has the moral character to practice law in Wisconsin, 2) his resumption of the practice of law will not be detrimental to the administration of justice or subversive of the public interest, 3) his representations in his reinstatement petition are substantiated, and 4) he has complied fully with the terms of the orders of suspension or revocation and with SCR 22.26.

    Relevant information may be provided to or obtained from Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) investigator Melody Rader-Johnson or OLR assistant litigation counsel Jonathan E. Hendrix, 110 E. Main St., Suite 315, Madison, WI 53703. The OLR’s toll-free telephone number is (877) 315-6941. Attorney Hendrix’s direct phone number is (608) 266-8334.

    Disciplinary Proceedings Against Michael M. Switalski

    On Nov. 11, 2015, the supreme court revoked the law license of Michael M. Switalski, Wausau, following Switalski’s petition for consensual license revocation. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Switalski, 2015 WI 99. Switalski was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1988. Switalski’s member status with the State Bar of Wisconsin was inactive, and he was not engaged in the practice of law in Wisconsin. Switalski previously was a high school teacher and coach in Wausau.

    In March 2015, Switalski entered guilty pleas to 10 felony counts of possession of child pornography. An additional 22 counts were dismissed but read in for sentencing purposes. In June 2015, Switalski was sentenced to 10 three-year prison terms, to be served concurrently, each followed by five years of extended supervision. Switalski currently is in prison.

    Switalski’s petition for consensual license revocation stated that he was the subject of an OLR inquiry involving his possession of child pornography and that he could not successfully defend himself against the professional misconduct alleged by the OLR. SCR 20:8.4(b) provides 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.” The OLR filed a recommendation on Switalski’s petition, stating that revocation of his Wisconsin law license was warranted and consistent with precedent. The supreme court granted the petition and revoked Switalski’s Wisconsin law license.

    Disciplinary Proceedings Against Phillip J. Ramthun

    On Sept. 30, 2015, the supreme court suspended the law license of Phillip J. Ramthun, Milwaukee, for two years and six months. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Ramthun, 2015 WI 94. The court ordered Ramthun to pay $4,152.23 in restitution to the Milwaukee County Medical Plan and $1,955 to a former client, as well as the $8,040.99 cost of the proceeding. The court further ordered, as a condition of any reinstatement of his law license, that Ramthun demonstrate he has successfully completed 20 hours of CLE ethics and trust account courses.

    Ramthun’s suspension was based on 46 separate instances of professional misconduct spanning 13 grievance investigations.

    In two client matters, Ramthun failed to provide competent representation, in violation of SCR 20:1.1.

    Ramthun violated SCR 20:1.2(a) by failing to abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation.

    In four client matters, Ramthun failed to act with reasonable diligence, in violation of SCR 20:1.3.

    On eight occasions, Ramthun violated SCR 20:1.4(a) by failing to keep clients informed about the status of their cases or failing to respond to requests for information.

    Ramthun failed to pay his monthly storage bill and thereby subjected former clients’ files to be revealed at a public sale, in violation of SCR 20:1.6(a).

    Ramthun violated the following trust account rules: SCR 20:1.15(b)(1), (d)(1),
    (e)(4)a. and c., and (f)(1).

    Ramthun failed to deliver a client’s file to successor counsel, in violation of SCR 20:1.16(d).

    Ramthun violated SCR 20:3.2 by failing to provide to opposing counsel signed releases and a signed stipulation and order for dismissal.

    Ramthun failed to comply with a court order, which resulted in the dismissal of a client’s case, and failed to respond to routine discovery requests, both in violation of SCR 20:3.4.

    Ramthun violated SCR 20:5.3 by instructing his staff to make false statements regarding the payment of an outstanding bill to a creditor.

    On four occasions, Ramthun violated SCR 20:8.4(c), including more than one instance of conversion of trust account funds.

    Ramthun failed to cooperate with the OLR’s investigation of seven grievances, in violation of SCR 22.03(2), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h). Ramthun violated SCR 22.03(6), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h), by failing to communicate with the OLR, failing to provide information regarding pending grievances, and misrepresenting information. Ramthun also violated SCR 22.26(1) when he failed to notify a client that he had been temporarily suspended from the practice of law.

    Ramthun had no prior discipline. He died on Oct. 10, 2015.

    Disciplinary Proceedings Against Thomas O. Mulligan

     On Oct. 8, 2015, the supreme court suspended the law license of Thomas O. Mulligan, Spooner, for nine months, effective Nov. 7, 2015. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Mulligan, 2015 WI 96. The court also ordered Mulligan to pay the $17,720.02 cost of the proceeding. As a condition of any reinstatement of his law license, Mulligan must attend and successfully complete an OLR trust account seminar, and upon reinstatement, Mulligan’s trust account will be subject to OLR monitoring for three years or until further order of the court.

    Mulligan’s suspension was based on eight counts of professional misconduct relating to two client matters and trust account anomalies.

    In the first client matter, Mulligan represented a client facing numerous criminal charges. Mulligan violated SCR 20:1.5(b)(1) and (2) by accepting $5,000 to represent the client, without use of a written fee agreement. Mulligan violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(4) by failing to deposit the initial $5,000 payment into his trust account and not providing the written notices required under SCR 20:1.15(b)(4m) or otherwise indicating an intent to use the alternative advanced-fee-placement measures permitted under that rule. Mulligan violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(1) by withdrawing $5,000 bail return money from his trust account and transferring that amount into his general account when $500 of the amount belonged to his client.

    In the second client matter, Mulligan represented a client in a divorce. Mulligan again violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(4) by failing to deposit the client’s advanced fee payment of $1,750 into his trust account.

    While investigating Mulligan, the OLR discovered systemic trust account anomalies. Mulligan violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(3) by depositing personal funds, totaling $45,380.57, into his trust account between Dec. 17, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2011, thereby commingling personal funds with trust account funds. Mulligan violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(1) and SCR 20:8.4(c) by failing to hold in trust and converting a net total of between $6,713.56 and $9,488.44 of client or third-party funds for his personal use; and by disbursing funds from his trust account for personal matters on numerous occasions when he did not have sufficient personal funds on deposit in his trust account to cover such disbursements.

    In addition, Mulligan violated SCR 20:1.15(f)(1) by failing to maintain a complete transaction register, subsidiary client ledgers, and monthly reconciliation statements. Mulligan violated SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)a. by making cash disbursements, totaling $6,593, from his trust account.

    Mulligan received private reprimands in 1997 and 2005 and a public reprimand in 2009.

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