Disciplinary Proceedings Against Michael J. Hicks
The Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Michael J. Hicks, most recently of West Allis, for two years, effective March 18, 2016. The suspension was based on 35 counts of professional misconduct arising in eight client matters and Hicks’ conduct following the temporary suspension of his law license. The court also ordered Hicks to pay the $10,572.49 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Hicks, 2016 WI 9.
There was a general pattern to Hicks’ misconduct. His practice focused primarily on representing indigent defendants in criminal cases through appointments by the State Public Defender’s Office or by a court. Hicks would often send an initial letter to the client providing notice of his appointment, but he would then repeatedly ignore letters and telephone calls from the client, resulting in a failure to advise the clients of his strategy or to answer their questions and concerns for extended periods of time. Hicks sometimes failed to follow through on necessary actions.
After a grievance was filed with the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), Hicks either would fail to respond or would provide an initial response that was inadequate and then fail to respond to the OLR’s requests for additional information. The supreme court temporarily suspended Hicks on Sept. 27, 2012, and again on Feb. 12, 2013, because of his failure to cooperate in the OLR’s investigations.
By failing to communicate with clients, keep them informed about the status of their cases, and respond to their reasonable requests for information, Hicks violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(2), (3), and (4) and (b).
By failing to prepare for and proceed with one client’s sentencing for more than four months, failing to take any action on behalf of another client, and failing to file a third client’s brief, or to seek an extension of time to file the brief or withdraw from the representation, Hicks violated SCR 20:1.3.
By failing to respond to multiple orders to show cause issued by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Hicks violated SCR 20:3.4(c).
After each of the two temporary suspensions, Hicks violated SCR 22.26(1)(a) and (b) and SCR 20:3.4(c) by failing to notify clients that his law license had been suspended. He also violated SCR 22.26(1)(c) and SCR 20:3.4(c) by failing to provide notice of his suspensions to courts in which he had pending cases and to opposing counsel.
By practicing law when his license was suspended, including by appearing in court on behalf of clients, Hicks violated SCR 22.26(2) and SCR 20:3.4(c).
By making multiple false statements in an affidavit filed with the OLR and by purporting to notarize his own affidavit, Hicks violated SCR 20:8.4(c).
By failing to timely provide information and records in multiple OLR investigations, Hicks violated SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h).
Hicks was publicly reprimanded in 2012.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Eric L. Crandall
In a Dec. 23, 2015 decision, the supreme court publicly reprimanded Eric L. Crandall, New Richmond. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Crandall, 2015 WI 111. The court also ordered Crandall to pay the $4,182.17 cost of the disciplinary proceeding.
In multiple instances, Crandall violated SCR 22.26(1)(a) and (b) by failing to send, on or before the effective date of a disciplinary suspension, written notice of his suspension to clients he represented in pending matters. Crandall violated SCR 22.26(1)(c) in multiple instances by failing to provide proper notice of his suspension to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, where he represented clients in pending matters. Crandall violated SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h), by failing to timely respond to the OLR’s requests for a response to a grievance investigation; he responded only after the supreme court issued an order to show cause.
Crandall is also licensed to practice in Minnesota. Reciprocal to discipline imposed in Minnesota, Crandall’s Wisconsin law license was suspended for three months in 2006. The supreme court publicly reprimanded Crandall in 2008. Later in 2008, Crandall received a reciprocal 30-day suspension of his Wisconsin law license. In 2011, the supreme court suspended Crandall’s law license for five months.
Petition to Reinstate Michael D. Mandelman
On Dec. 8, 2015, the supreme court denied the reinstatement petition of Michael D. Mandelman, Mequon, and ordered Mandelman to pay the full cost of the reinstatement proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Mandelman, 2015 WI 105. Mandelman’s petition was filed on Aug. 5, 2014.
The court determined that Mandelman failed to meet his burden, under SCR 22.29(4)(f) and (g), to show by clear and convincing evidence that he has a proper understanding of and attitude toward the standards that are imposed on members of the bar and will act in conformity with them, and that he can be safely recommended to the legal profession, the courts, and the public as a person fit to be consulted by others and to represent them and otherwise act in matters of trust and confidence.
Mandelman’s law license has been suspended since July 1, 2006. On Aug. 1, 2014, his law license was revoked based on 22 counts of misconduct. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Mandelman, 2014 WI 100, 358 Wis. 2d 179, 851 N.W.2d 401. The revocation followed a lengthy disciplinary history and was imposed retroactive to May 29, 2009, thereby allowing Mandelman to seek reinstatement immediately rather than waiting the usual requisite five years.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Richard W. Voss
On Dec. 8, 2015, the supreme court suspended the law license of Richard W. Voss, Rhinelander, for 60 days, to run consecutive to the discipline imposed on Voss in Disciplinary Proceedings Against Voss, 2014 WI 75, which ran until Feb. 22, 2016. The court also ordered Voss to pay the $2,801.98 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Voss, 2015 WI 104.
Four of the six counts related to Voss’s representation of clients in bankruptcy matters. Voss asked each client to pay approximately $300 in filing fees. Voss held the clients’ funds in his client trust account. Voss, or his employees under his direction, told the clients that the firm would file a fee-waiver application with the bankruptcy court, and if the court granted the waiver, Voss would refund the filing fee to the client.
Voss’s office prepared the fee-waiver application and bankruptcy petition. The documents failed to disclose that the filing fee had already been paid by the client and that Voss was holding the funds in trust. Voss, or his employees under his direction, had clients sign bankruptcy documents that indicated that signing was under penalty of perjury, thereby verifying the accuracy of the documents’ contents, including a statement that they could not afford to pay the filing fee and an asset disclosure that did not disclose the filing-fee payments held in Voss’s trust account.
Since at least 2006, Voss has been on notice that he must maintain proper trust account records and maintain an Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) account that accrues interest to be paid to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation Inc. Voss has continued, however, to use a non-IOLTA account as his client trust account and to fail to maintain proper trust account records.
By filing or causing his employees to file, on behalf of clients, fee-waiver applications that failed to disclose the amounts being held for payment of the fees, Voss violated SCR 20:8.4(c), and Voss failed to comply with Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, in violation of SCR 20:3.4(c).
By failing to adequately supervise his employees so as to ensure that documents prepared and filed on behalf of clients conformed in all respects with applicable law and court rules and were in all respects accurate, Voss violated SCR 20:5.3(a) and (b).
By failing to take reasonable steps to ensure his employees timely informed him and clients of case developments, Voss violated SCR 20:5.3(a) and (b).
By failing to maintain a pooled interest-bearing account and failing to participate in the IOLTA program, Voss violated SCR 13.04 and SCR 20.15(c)(l).
Voss either violated SCR 20:1.15(e)(7)
by failing to provide the OLR with a copy of his trust account transaction register or failed to maintain a compliant transaction register, in violation of SCR 20:1.15(f)(l)a.
Voss was privately reprimanded in 2004 and publicly reprimanded in 2006, and in 2014, he received an 18-month license suspension.