The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), an agency of the Wisconsin
Supreme Court, provides these summaries for educational
purposes. The OLR assists the court in supervising the practice
of law and protecting the public from misconduct by lawyers.
Find the full text of these summaries at www.wicourts.gov/olr.
Reinstatement of John F. Koenig
On March 21, 2019, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reinstated the law license of John F. Koenig, Milton, finding that Koenig fully complied with the post-suspension requirements set forth in SCR 22.29 and met all requirements for reinstatement stated in SCR 22.31. The court also ordered Koenig to pay the full cost of the proceeding, $3,646.23. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Koenig, 2019 WI 28.
Koenig’s law license had been suspended for two years, effective March 19, 2015, for misconduct involving the embezzlement of funds from his law firm.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court permits the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) to publish, for educational purposes, a summary of facts and professional conduct rule violations in matters in which the OLR imposed private reprimands. The summaries do not disclose information identifying the reprimanded attorneys. The summaries of selected private reprimands are printed to help attorneys avoid similar misconduct problems.
Sale of Law Practice; Failure to Notify Client of Law Practice Sale
Violations of SCR 20:1.4 and SCR 20:1.17
In 2013, a lawyer (A) contacted another lawyer (B) to offer the sale of seven client files. Lawyer B agreed and purchased seven files of clients in the county. Lawyer A did not stop accepting trust clients in that county or cease to practice law in the county.
With regard to one of the files, Lawyer A wrote to the client, notifying the client of the lawyer’s decision to downsize practice and indicating that Lawyer B would help the client. Lawyer A did not offer the client an opportunity to object and did not inform the client of the sale of the file.
By failing to advise the client regarding the sale of the file and failing to cease providing services to clients in the county, Lawyer A violated SCR 20:1.17. By failing to communicate his intentions to the client, Lawyer A violated SCR 20:1.4.
The lawyer had private reprimands in 1979 and in 2013.
Criminal Act Reflecting Adversely on Fitness to Practice
Violation of SCR 20:8.4(b)
A lawyer entered a business and spoke to an employee. The lawyer’s statement threatened the safety of others. The employee instructed the lawyer to leave the business and then contacted police. The lawyer was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The lawyer claimed the statement was intended as a joke. The lawyer was found guilty following a jury trial and was ordered to pay a fine and costs and to perform community service.
By engaging in conduct leading to a misdemeanor conviction of disorderly conduct, the lawyer violated SCR 20:8.4(b).
The lawyer had no prior discipline.
Failure to Protect Client’s Interests at Termination of Representation
Violation of SCR 20:1.16(d)
A lawyer was appointed to represent a man in a criminal case. The client’s brother was also charged in the matter.
The client pleaded guilty to some of the charges. At the rescheduled sentencing hearing, the court denied the lawyer’s motion for presentence plea withdrawal and then proceeded to sentencing.
Another lawyer was thereafter appointed to provide postconviction representation to the client.
The lawyer failed to provide the client’s file, specifically the discovery in his case, to successor counsel, despite the client’s and successor counsel’s requests for the same.
After the appeal, successor counsel sent the client his file at the client’s request. When the client asked successor counsel to provide him the discovery in his case, successor counsel told the client he did not have it and suggested the client request it from the lawyer. Successor counsel later explained the status of the discovery in a letter to the client stating he had access to the discovery through the client’s brother’s lawyer.
By failing to provide the client’s case file, including discovery, to his client or successor counsel, the lawyer violated SCR 20:1.16(d).
The lawyer previously received a private reprimand for misconduct that included violations of SCR 20:1.16(d) and a public reprimand for misconduct that included a violation of SCR 20:1.16(d). The misconduct in the instant case preceded the lawyer’s violations of SCR 20:1.16(d) in the above reprimands.
Lack of Diligence
Violation of SCR 20:1.3
A lawyer represented a client in the postconviction phase of a criminal matter. At the end of a jury trial in March 2013, the client was convicted of a felony stalking charge and sentenced to 18 months’ confinement. In May 2013, the lawyer entered his appearance and filed a notice of intent to pursue postconviction relief. Though the trial transcripts were available on Aug. 13, 2013, the lawyer did not file a motion for postconviction relief on behalf of the client until April 14, 2014. The motion alleged ineffective assistance of the trial counsel.
A hearing on the postconviction motion was scheduled for May 29, 2014. The lawyer did not hire an investigator to interview witnesses until about three weeks before the hearing. The investigator did not begin interviewing witnesses until two weeks before the hearing, and the lawyer did not receive and begin reviewing the packet of witness interview summaries until a few days before the hearing. At the hearing, the lawyer called only one witness, the trial counsel himself. When the trial counsel did not testify as the lawyer expected, the lawyer was ill-prepared to respond. The lawyer offered witness affidavits, but the hearing judge warned such affidavits would be hearsay and the judge offered an adjournment for the lawyer to call five witnesses if he so desired, but the lawyer declined.
By failing to file timely for, and diligently pursue, postconviction relief for his client, the lawyer violated SCR 20:1.3.
The lawyer had two prior private reprimands.