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 www.wicourts.gov/olr.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Jeffrey M. Blessinger
On Dec. 21, 2017, the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted the petition of Jeffrey M. Blessinger, Baraboo, for consensual revocation of his law license, filed pursuant to SCR 22.19. The court also ordered that Blessinger pay $9,751.25 in restitution to certain former clients and $3,000 to the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Blessinger, 2017 WI 107.
The revocation was based on Blessinger’s misconduct in seven separate client matters, which the supreme court described as serious and egregious. Blessinger also failed to cooperate with the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) in the investigation of six of those matters.
Blessinger had no prior discipline.
Public Reprimand of Benjamin J. Harris
The OLR and Benjamin J. Harris, Milwaukee, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A supreme court-appointed referee approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand in accordance with SCR 22.09(3) on Jan. 14, 2018.
After representing a party at a contested divorce hearing on March 28, 2016, Harris failed to file the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and judgment of divorce (judgment) for the circuit court to sign within 30 days after the divorce hearing. Further, Harris never advised the client that he had failed to do so. On Aug. 24, 2016, the clerk of circuit court sent a letter to Harris to advise him that the court had not received the completed judgment. Harris again failed to file the judgment.
The client did not discover that she was still married until October 2016, when she was in the process of selling her condominium property and discovered she had to obtain her husband’s consent before she could complete the sale transaction. In exchange for his consent, the husband demanded $1,500, which the client paid. On Oct. 21, 2016, Harris sent the court the judgment, which was signed on Nov. 2, 2016.
By failing to file the judgment on the client’s behalf until Oct. 21, 2016, Harris violated SCR 20:1.3, which states, “A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.”
By failing to inform the client that he had not timely filed the judgment in her case for more than six months after the final divorce hearing, resulting in the client thinking that she was no longer married and causing her financial harm when she sold her condominium property, Harris violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(3), which states, “A lawyer shall keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter.”
Harris received a 2007 private reprimand, a 2008 public reprimand, a 60-day suspension imposed in 2010, a 2012 private reprimand, and a five-month suspension imposed in 2013.
Public Reprimand of Jared C. Redfield
The OLR and Jared C. Redfield, Stevens Point, entered into an agreement for 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 Jan. 15, 2018, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3). This reprimand is based on Redfield’s misconduct in three matters.
In the first matter, on or about Jan. 13, 2016, a client hired Redfield to represent her in child custody and placement matters.
Redfield failed to file the necessary papers to effectuate the transfer of the cases after the court granted the client’s motion for change of venue and thus violated SCR 20:1.3.
Redfield failed to communicate to the client in writing the scope of his representation or the basis or rate of his fee or expenses for which the client would be responsible and failed to communicate to the client in writing the purpose and effect of the advanced fee that was paid to him. He thereby violated SCR 20:1.5(b)(1) and (2).
Redfield failed to hold the advanced fee in trust and did not convey to the client an intention to use alternative-fee-placement measures and thereby violated former SCR 20:1.15(b)(4) (in effect before July 1, 2016).
Redfield failed to make reasonable efforts to establish internal policies and procedures designed to identify and prevent filing errors via the conduct of his paralegal or legal assistant and failed to have in place adequate supervisory measures. He thereby violated SCR 20:5.3(a) and (b).
In the second matter, on or about Dec. 30, 2014, a client hired Redfield to represent him in filing a small claims court case regarding damage to a rental property owned by the client in Stevens Point.
With respect to not returning the client’s calls, Redfield stated, “I feel remorse about not staying in current contact with [the client] and I apologize for not returning his calls.” Redfield further stated, “I should have been more attentive in responding to him.” Ultimately, Redfield failed to file a small claims court action on the client’s behalf.
By failing to file the client’s small claims court action, Redfield violated SCR 20:1.3.
By failing to respond to the client’s telephone calls and email requesting information, Redfield violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(4).
In the third matter, on or about July 8, 2016, a client hired Redfield to represent her in a small claims court case against her ex-fiancée regarding a property dispute.
Redfield failed to keep the client reasonably informed regarding the status of the small claims court case and failed to respond to the client’s telephone calls requesting information. He thereby violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (4).
Redfield deposited the client’s $85 advanced-costs payment into his business account and thus failed to hold the advanced costs in trust. He thereby violated SCR 20:1.5(f).
Redfield received a private reprimand in 2014.