Disciplinary Proceedings Against Marc G. Kurzman
On May 10, 2016, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the Wisconsin law license of Marc G. Kurzman, Minnesota, for 60 days as discipline reciprocal to a Nov. 25, 2015, order of the Minnesota Supreme Court suspending Kurzman’s Minnesota law license for 60 days. In addition, Kurzman failed to notify Wisconsin’s Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) of his Minnesota discipline within 20 days after the discipline. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Kurzman, 2016 WI 32.
The Minnesota suspension arose out of Kurzman’s violation of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Misconduct, consisting of two misconduct counts involving five rule violations for inappropriately questioning a witness during a deposition, failing to provide two different clients with their files within a reasonable period of time, failing to submit records to the court as directed, and providing confidential materials from multiple clients.
Kurzman’s Wisconsin disciplinary history consists of a public reprimand for trust account anomalies. Public Reprimand of Kurzman, 2012-OLR-12.
Reinstatement of Jane A. Edgar
On July 8, 2016, the supreme court reinstated with conditions the law license of Jane A. Edgar and ordered her to pay the cost of the reinstatement proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Edgar, 2016 WI 60.
On March 22, 1999, the court suspended Edgar’s law license for two years for professional misconduct consisting of converting funds, improperly commingling funds, and falsely certifying that she had a trust account and maintained proper trust account and bank records. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Edgar, 230 Wis. 2d 205. In 2003, the court suspended her license for an additional year, retroactive to March 22, 2001, for misconduct consisting of multiple violations of several rules. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Edgar, 2003 WI 49. In 2010, Edgar unsuccessfully sought reinstatement of her license. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Edgar, 2012 WI 19. In June 2015, Edgar filed a second reinstatement petition.
After a hearing on Edgar’s second petition, a referee concluded that Edgar had met the standards for reinstatement and recommended that her return to practice be subject to monitoring by a lawyer for one year to assist her transition back into the practice of law. The supreme court agreed that Edgar had met the standards for reinstatement but found that a monitoring period of two years was appropriate.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against William J. Spangler
On July 8, 2016, the supreme court suspended the law license of William J. Spangler for six months, effective Aug. 12, 2016. In addition, the court ordered that Spangler pay the $6,678.43 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Spangler, 2016 WI 61.
Spangler engaged in multiple counts of misconduct related to two client matters. In the first matter, Spangler agreed to the dismissal of a client’s lawsuit without consulting with the client or obtaining the client’s consent, in violation of SCR 20:1.2(a) and SCR 20:1.4(a)(1) and (2); failed to provide the client with accurate information regarding case status and the efforts taken on the client’s behalf, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a)(3); and intentionally provided false information to the client regarding case status and the efforts taken on the client’s behalf and created fake documents to lend support to the misrepresentations to the client, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c).
In the second matter, in violation of SCR 20:1.2(a) Spangler indicated to a client that he had filed and was prosecuting a lawsuit on the client’s behalf, as the client had instructed him to do, when in fact he had never filed the lawsuit; informed the client that he had filed a lawsuit on his behalf and obtained a settlement when he had done neither, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (b); and fabricated several documents and gave false information to the client with the intent of perpetuating the misrepresentations that the lawsuit had been filed and settled, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c).
The court acknowledged the presence of several mitigating factors but noted that Spangler had engaged in affirmative acts of deception and had perpetuated years-long ruses against his clients. Spangler had no prior discipline.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Matthew S. MacLean
The supreme court suspended the law license of Matthew S. MacLean, Hartland, for two years, effective June 3, 2016. The court also ordered that MacLean pay the $3,573.11 cost of the disciplinary proceeding and that during the suspension, he continue participation in the Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP) and submit quarterly reports to the OLR showing his continued cooperation with monitoring and treatment recommendations. Disciplinary Proceedings Against MacLean, 2016 WI 45.
Between 1999 and 2006, MacLean was employed by Michael, Best & Friedrich LLP (the firm). In 2006, MacLean became general counsel and chief compliance officer for Red Granite Advisors LLC (Red Granite), which was acquired by Ziegler Lotsoff Capital Management LLC (Ziegler). Between March 2006 and December 2014, the firm sublet office space and parking spaces to Red Granite.
In 2010, BrickStix LLC (BrickStix) was formed to commercialize a product designed by MacLean’s minor son. MacLean drafted articles of organization for BrickStix, which listed MacLean, his wife, and another person as the organizing members.
Between March 2006 and September 2013, MacLean misappropriated more than $450,000 belonging to Red Granite or Ziegler. To facilitate or hide his misappropriations, MacLean obtained a lock box and caused payments due from Red Granite or Ziegler to the firm to be directed to the lock box. MacLean created and caused fraudulent invoices purporting to be from the firm to be presented to Red Granite and Ziegler. MacLean caused checks to be issued by Red Granite or Ziegler payable to MacLean, BrickStix, or third parties, but falsely identified the checks as payable to legitimate vendors.
By 1) engaging in a course of conduct that included misappropriating funds belonging to Red Granite or Ziegler; and 2) engaging in a course of conduct to hide his misappropriations and related wrongful conduct, MacLean violated SCR 20:8.4(c).
By engaging in a course of conduct that included using misappropriated funds for the benefit of BrickStix, MacLean violated SCR 20:8.4(c).
By engaging in a course of conduct intended to induce a third party to purchase an interest in BrickStix through the use of misleading and inaccurate information regarding BrickStix’s financial condition or the omission of information related to MacLean’s deposit of misappropriated funds in BrickStix’s account, MacLean violated SCR 20:8.4(c).
MacLean acted under a concurrent conflict of interest by representing BrickStix as its general counsel while also engaging in a course of conduct that included 1) failing to keep BrickStix’s finances separate from his personal finances and the finances of Red Granite; 2) causing funds MacLean misappropriated from Red Granite or Ziegler to be deposited into BrickStix’s account; 3) using BrickStix’s account as part of his course of conduct intended to misappropriate funds from Red Granite or Ziegler; and 4) using misappropriated funds for the benefit of BrickStix, without notifying the managing member, the board of directors, or the other members of BrickStix, thereby violating SCR 20:1.7(a)(2).
MacLean had no prior discipline.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Raymond M. Clark
The supreme court suspended the law license of Raymond M. Clark, Menomonee Falls, for four months effective June 20, 2016. The court also ordered Clark to take six continuing legal education credits in trust account management and to pay the $16,192.21 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Clark, 2016 WI 36.
Clark represented a woman in a divorce. The court entered findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a final judgment, which incorporated the terms of a marital settlement agreement (MSA). The MSA provided that the client’s share of a retirement account would be forwarded to Clark to be held in trust to satisfy the client’s share of marital debts. In August 2008, Clark received the client’s share of the retirement account and deposited it into his trust account. Clark disbursed some of the funds to himself and to his client before paying the client’s marital debts. As of June 2009, several of the marital debts remained unpaid.
At a June 2009 hearing, a court commissioner ordered Clark’s client to pay her share of the marital debts and ordered that “any monies in trust be used for outstanding bills forthwith.” Clark failed to advise the court that he had disbursed all but $59.73 of the funds, including $4,360 disbursed to himself.
In July 2009, Clark disbursed $600 to himself, including the remaining $59.73 being held in trust for the client. In August 2009, Clark disbursed $50 from his trust account to the client, even though he was no longer holding any funds for her.
By failing to take reasonable steps to advance the client’s interests in having her marital debts paid timely, Clark violated SCR 20:1.3.
By failing to hold the $9,341.84 in trust for the payment of the client’s marital debts and by disbursing funds in excess of the funds he held in trust for the client, Clark violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(1).
By failing to hold the $9,341.84 in trust for the payment of the client’s marital debts as ordered by the court and by failing to hold the remaining $59.73 in trust for the payment of the client’s marital debts as ordered by the court, Clark violated SCR 20:3.4(c).
By engaging in a course of conduct to protect or hide income and assets from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue and the Internal Revenue Service, including by depositing earned fees and funds belonging to Clark or the Law Offices of Raymond M. Clark in his trust account, Clark violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(3) and SCR 20:8.4(c).
By making cash withdrawals from his trust account, taking cash from deposits to his trust account, and issuing trust account checks payable to cash, Clark violated former SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)a. (effective before July 1, 2016).
By disbursing funds from his trust account in excess of the amount he was then holding in trust for specified client matters, Clark violated former SCR 20:1.15(f)(1)b.
Clark had no prior discipline.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Michael J. Hicks
The supreme court suspended the law license of Michael J. Hicks, most recently of West Allis, for one year, effective March 18, 2018, consecutive to the two-year suspension imposed on Hicks in Disciplinary Proceedings Against Hicks, 2016 WI 9. The court also ordered Hicks to pay the $2,717.14 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Hicks, 2016 WI 31.
The suspension was based on 19 counts of professional misconduct. There was a general pattern to Hicks’ misconduct. Hicks focused his practice primarily on representing indigent defendants in criminal cases through appointments either by the Office of the State Public Defender (SPD) or the court in which the case was pending. After acknowledging the appointment, Hicks often ignored clients’ requests for information for substantial periods of time and often failed to follow through on necessary actions for the clients’ defense. When a grievance was subsequently filed with the OLR, Hicks either failed to provide any initial response to the OLR or failed to respond to the OLR’s requests for further information.
Twice between September 2012 and March 2013, the supreme court temporarily suspended Hicks’ license due to his willful failure to cooperate with the OLR’s grievance investigations. In each case, after the temporary suspension had been imposed, Hicks began to cooperate with the OLR and to provide the information and documents the OLR had requested. The OLR then informed the court of Hicks’ cooperation and requested Hicks’ reinstatement from the temporary suspensions.
By requesting to argue a client’s motion to withdraw a plea in writing following the evidentiary phase of the hearing on the motion, and then failing to file any written (or oral) argument, Hicks violated SCR 20:1.3.
By failing to communicate with clients, keep them informed about the status of their cases, respond to their reasonable requests for information, and consult with them regarding trial strategy and preparation, thereby preventing some clients from adequately understanding and participating in their own defense, Hicks violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(2), (3), and (4).
After each of the two temporary suspensions, Hicks violated SCR 22.26(1)(a) and (b) by failing to notify clients that his law license had been suspended. He also violated SCR 22.26(1)(c) by failing to notify courts in which he had pending cases and opposing counsel of his suspensions.
By practicing law in Wisconsin when his license was suspended, including by appearing in court on behalf of clients, Hicks violated SCR 22.26(2).
By failing to timely provide information and records in multiple OLR investigations, Hicks violated SCR 22.03(2) and (6), which are enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h).
Hicks was publicly reprimanded in 2012, and his license was suspended for two years in 2016.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Othman M. Atta
In a July 14, 2016, decision, the supreme court publicly reprimanded Othman M. Atta, Milwaukee. The court also ordered Atta to pay the $9,187.41 cost of the proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Atta, 2016 WI 69.
Atta’s misconduct arose out his representation of a client in divorce and immigration matters. During the representation, Atta’s professional relationship with the client became romantic and intimate. Notwithstanding the conflict of interest, Atta did not withdraw from the representation. When confronted about the relationship by the client’s former husband and his lawyer, Atta expressly denied a romantic relationship with the client existed. Atta denied the relationship in an email to the lawyer, in chambers before a circuit court judge, and later in open court during the final divorce hearing.
The romantic relationship ended, and while Atta completed the divorce matter on behalf of the client, he forwarded proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and judgment to his brother, without the client’s consent.
After the client filed a grievance, Atta told the OLR the relationship did not exist and failed to cooperate in its investigation.
Atta’s romantic relationship with the client during the representation violated SCR 20:1.7(a)(2); his failure to withdraw from the representation violated SCR 20:1.16(a); his engaging in a sexual relationship with a client (when no sexual relationship existed before the representation) violated SCR 20:1.8(j); his false statements to both the tribunal and opposing counsel violated SCR 20:3.3(a)(1) and SCR 20:4.1(a); his release of the draft divorce papers to his brother breached client confidences in violation of SCR 20:1.6(a); and his failure to cooperate with the OLR violated SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h).
Atta had no prior discipline.
Public Reprimand of John Kenyatta Riley
On July 15, 2016, the supreme court publicly reprimanded John Kenyatta Riley, Milwaukee, and ordered that Riley pay the $16,961.70 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Riley, 2016 WI 70.
Riley took the lead role in representing Brian K. Polk at a hearing on Polk’s petition for reinstatement of his Wisconsin law license from an administrative suspension. At that hearing, Polk gave false and misleading testimony regarding his employment during the suspension. Specifically, Polk omitted mention of his employment at the firm at which Riley was also employed. Evidence regarding Polk’s employment was material to the issue of his failure to pay outstanding civil judgments.
Riley knew at the time of the hearing that Polk’s testimony was false, but he did not take any reasonable measures to remediate the false testimony. Riley’s conduct violated former SCR 20:3.3(a)(4) (effective until July 1, 2007). Riley’s failure to remediate Polk’s testimony and his continuing to argue that the jobs held by Polk during the time of his suspension did not allow Polk to make payments toward the civil judgment violated SCR 20:8.4(c).
In 2009, Riley received a private reprimand for violations of SCR 20:1.3 and SCR 20:1.4(b).
Public Reprimand of Louis F. Raymond
The OLR and Louis F. Raymond, Manitowoc, agreed to the imposition of a public reprimand pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A supreme court-appointed referee approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on June 1, 2016, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3). Public Reprimand of Raymond, 2016-OLR-6.
Raymond was admitted to the State Bar of Wisconsin in 1991. Raymond’s Wisconsin law license was suspended on June 12, 2006, for failure to comply with continuing legal education reporting requirements and on Oct. 31, 2006, for nonpayment of State Bar dues. On March 6, 2015, Raymond filed a petition for reinstatement, which was granted on Aug. 12, 2015.
Since October 2004, Raymond has been employed in Wisconsin by a company that does not itself offer legal services. Raymond was first employed as senior litigation counsel and later as associate general counsel – litigation. Raymond’s job description stated that he was expected to maintain an active license to practice law.
During his suspension, Raymond filed an ERISA notice on behalf of the company in a pending mediation and communicated a settlement offer to third parties on behalf of the company. Raymond closely collaborated with outside counsel, analyzing legal issues, working with counsel regarding case strategy, and assisting counsel with interviewing and preparing witnesses for depositions.
Raymond also supervised internal counsel and nonlawyer staff performing law-related work on behalf of the company, hired and supervised outside counsel representing the company in litigation and pre-litigation matters, reviewed and analyzed litigation-related documents, communicated with persons regarding litigation-related documents and matters, and communicated with persons with potential claims against the company or their counsel.
While not all the communications or work Raymond performed on behalf of the company during his suspension would necessarily constitute the practice of law, some of his actions constituted the practice of law, and Raymond’s use of the specified titles would have caused many of those with whom he interacted to believe that Raymond was a lawyer licensed to practice in Wisconsin, communicating with them as a lawyer representing the company.
In October 2009, Raymond’s direct supervisor learned that Raymond’s license was suspended and directed Raymond to seek reinstatement. Raymond failed to do so. When he learned in October 2014 that Raymond had failed to seek reinstatement, the supervisor asked Raymond to schedule time away from his day-to-day workload to finalize his petition for reinstatement.
By practicing law in Wisconsin when his Wisconsin law license was suspended, Raymond violated SCR 10.03(6), SCR 31.10(1), SCR 22.26(2), and SCR 23.02(1), which are enforced under the Rules of Professional Conduct via SCR 20:8.4(f).
By using the titles senior litigation counsel and associate general counsel - litigation when his license to practice law in Wisconsin was suspended, Raymond violated SCR 23.02(3), enforced under the Rules of Professional Conduct via SCR 20:8.4(f).
Raymond had no prior discipline.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Scott E. Selmer
On July 15, 2016, the supreme court suspended the Wisconsin law license of Scott E. Selmer, currently residing in New York, for 12 months as discipline reciprocal to discipline imposed by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Selmer,2016 WI 71.
The Minnesota suspension resulted from Selmer violating Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct sections 1.1, 3.1, 3.4(c), 3.4(d), and 8.4(d) through a pattern of frivolous and harassing litigation, a failure to obey court orders, and a failure to comply with legally proper discovery requests. The Minnesota court found that Selmer filed 10 separate lawsuits in two different counties, the court of appeals, and a Minnesota federal district court, and then repeatedly failed to obey court orders, appear for hearings, or otherwise respond to pleadings and discovery requests. All 10 lawsuits were dismissed based either on the frivolity of Selmer’s arguments or failure to comply with court rules.
Selmer’s prior Wisconsin discipline consists of a 1990 private reprimand; a 1999 one-year suspension; and a 2009 public reprimand.
Reinstatement of Godfrey Y. Muwonge
On July 1, 2016, the supreme court reinstated the law license of Godfrey
Y. Muwonge, Milwaukee, with conditions. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Muwonge, 2016 WI 55.
Muwonge was licensed to practice law in 1997 and practiced immigration law in Milwaukee. Muwonge was the subject of a disciplinary proceeding initiated in April 2007. After initially conceding the alleged misconduct and consenting to the revocation of his license, Muwonge withdrew that consent and asked the court to consider his medical problems. Muwonge’s license was temporarily suspended effective April 9, 2008.
In December 2008, the court issued an order suspending Muwonge’s license indefinitely, due to medical incapacity. The court ordered that the disciplinary proceeding be abated until Muwonge was reinstated from his medical incapacity. Pursuant to SCR 22.16, upon Muwonge’s reinstatement from the medical incapacity, the court was to direct the referee to proceed with the misconduct action.
In June 2015, Muwonge petitioned for reinstatement, pursuant to SCR 22.36. After a hearing in March 2016, the referee determined that Muwonge had demonstrated the removal of his medical incapacity and his fitness to return to the practice of law, with conditions. The court agreed and reinstated Muwonge, subject to his compliance with several conditions, including compliance with WisLAP monitoring, supervision of his law practice by another lawyer, continued mental health treatment with status reports provided to the OLR, and repayment of his financial obligations to the Wisconsin Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection and the OLR. Muwonge was also ordered to pay the cost of the reinstatement proceeding.
On July 27, 2016, the court issued a separate order directing the referee to continue the disciplinary proceeding.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Matthew H. Marx
On July 22, 2016, pursuant to a stipulation, the supreme court suspended the law license of Matthew H. Marx, Milwaukee, for nine months, and ordered him to pay restitution to two clients totaling $2,562.50. In addition, the court lifted a temporary suspension of Marx’s license for willfully failing to cooperate with the OLR’s investigation, but ordered that administrative suspensions for nonpayment of dues and noncompliance with CLE requirements remain in effect until Marx meets the requirements. No costs were imposed. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Marx, 2016 WI 75.
The suspension was based on 22 counts of misconduct involving four separate matters, including several counts stemming from Marx’s failure to cooperate with the OLR’s investigations, in violation of SCR 22.03(2) and (6), as enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h), and from Marx’s mismanagement of his trust account, including paying $2,618.36 in business and personal expenses from the trust account, in violation of SCR 20:1.15(b)(1) and former SCR 20:1.15(b)(3); depositing and retaining $3,800 in personal funds in the trust account, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(b)(3); failing to maintain and produce records, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(f)(1)a., b., and g. and former SCR 20:1.15(e)(7); authorizing deposits by credit card and other electronic transactions to a standard IOLTA, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)e.; and making Internet deposits and disbursements, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)c.
In his representation of a divorce client, Marx failed to hold client funds in trust, in violation of SCR 20:1.15(b). Marx was ordered to pay $994.50 restitution to this client.
In another divorce, Marx allowed the deposit of the client’s credit card payment directly into the trust account, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)h., and did not comply with the requirements of former SCR 20:1.15(g)(1) when disbursing the funds from trust in payment of his fee. Marx also failed to respond to the client’s telephone calls and emails, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a)(4); failed to notify the client of his suspension, as required by SCR 22.26(1)(a); and failed to refund unearned fees, in violation of SCR 20:1.16(d). Marx also made a misrepresentation to the OLR, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c). Marx was ordered to pay $1,568.00 restitution to this client.
In the final matter, despite the suspension of his license, Marx continued to represent a client in a federal court case, failing to notify both the court and the client of his suspension. By this conduct, Marx violated several provisions of SCR 22.26, which sets forth a lawyer’s obligations when his or her license is suspended and is enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f). Marx’s failure to notify the court of his suspension also violated SCR 20:3.4(c). Finally, Marx’s misrepresentation to the OLR that he had informed all his clients of his suspension violated SCR 20:8.4(c).
Marx had no prior discipline.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Charles A. Boyle
On May 18, 2016, the supreme court issued an order suspending for 60 days the Wisconsin law license of Charles A. Boyle, Chicago, as discipline reciprocal to a May 14, 2015, order of the Illinois Supreme Court, which suspended Boyle’s Illinois law license for 60 days. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Boyle, 2016 WI 40.
The Illinois suspension resulted from Boyle’s conversion of $1,949.62 in settlement funds belonging to a client or to Medicare, which he was to hold in trust.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Edward W. Matchett
On May 10, 2016, the supreme court issued an order publicly reprimanding Edward W. Matchett, Douglas, Ariz., as discipline reciprocal to a Dec. 23, 2014, order of the Supreme Court of Arizona’s Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee, which had admonished Matchett. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Matchett, 2016 WI 33.
The Arizona admonition resulted from Matchett’s failure to file a notice of appearance in a probate matter, failure to check the legal status of a client’s claim, failure to ask the personal representative’s attorney to copy him on documents, and failure to find and cite a specific dispositive case to the court, resulting in unnecessary motions and an appeal.