Disciplinary Proceedings Against Diane R. Caspari
On July 19, 2016, pursuant to a stipulation, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Diane R. Caspari, Milwaukee, for 60 days, effective Aug. 8, 2016. Given that the matter was resolved by a SCR 22.12 stipulation, no costs were imposed. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Caspari, 2016 WI 72.
Caspari engaged in six counts of misconduct across four client matters. In the first client matter, Caspari violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to pursue postconviction or appellate relief in a timely manner.
In the second client matter, Caspari violated SCR 20:1.16(d) by failing upon termination of representation to promptly deliver her case file to the client or successor counsel, and violated SCR 20:8.4(c) by preparing and submitting payment invoices to the State Public Defender's office containing charges for tasks that she did not actually perform and by failing to correct the invoices or refund the fees for an extended period.
In the third client matter, Caspari violated SCR 20:3.3(a)(1) by asserting to the court at a hearing that she was seeking an adjournment because a subpoenaed material witness was unavailable and had left the state, when in fact the witness had not actually been served with a subpoena. Caspari further failed to correct her statement.
In the final client matter, Caspari violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to pursue postconviction or appellate relief on behalf of a client in a timely manner, and violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) by failing to inform the client that she had allowed the postconviction and appellate rights to lapse.
Caspari had one prior private reprimand.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Mary K. Biester
On July 22, 2016, the supreme court suspended the law license of Mary K. Biester for three years and six months, retroactive to Nov. 25, 2014. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Biester, 2016 WI 74. On Nov. 25, 2013, Biester's Wisconsin law license had been suspended for one year for 30 counts of misconduct involving six clients, Disciplinary Proceedings Against Biester, 2013 WI 85, 350 Wis. 2d 707, 838 N.W.2d 79, and had remained suspended. The recent suspension order relates to a count that was not adjudicated in the 2013 decision. Proceedings on that count had been stayed to protect Biester's right against self-incrimination. The stay was lifted after the Department of Justice decided not to criminally charge Biester.
The recent suspension relates to the following misconduct: By depositing a client's funds into her client trust account and then using the funds to pay off her personal mortgage, Biester violated SCR 20:1.7(a)(2). By failing to timely inform the client that her funds had been deposited and disbursed from the client trust account, and by failing to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of her legal matter, Biester violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(3). With knowledge of a court order limiting the transfer of property in the client's divorce action, and by failing to inform the client and the court that the client's funds had been deposited in the client trust account and then transferred out to pay Biester's personal mortgage, Biester violated SCR 20:3.4(c). By depositing funds belonging to the client into her client trust account and converting those funds for the purpose of paying her mortgage obligation and in failing to inform the client and the court of those events, Biester violated SCR 20:8.4(c). Finally, by failing to notify the client in writing of the receipt of funds in which the client had an interest, failing to promptly deliver to the client any funds to which the client was entitled, and failing to provide the client a full accounting regarding the distribution of the funds, Biester violated SCR 20:1.15(d)(2).
In addition to the three-year-and-six-month suspension of Biester's law license, the court ordered that Biester make $78,000 restitution to the Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection and pay to the Office of Lawyer Regulation the $8,712.86 cost of the proceeding or enter into a payment plan for full payment of costs.