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.
Reinstatement of Robert T. Malloy
On Feb. 26, 2019, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered the reinstatement of Robert T. Malloy, South Milwaukee. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Malloy, 2019 WI 16. The court imposed conditions recommended by the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR): attendance at an OLR trust account seminar as soon as possible after reinstatement, and quarterly submission of trust account and business records to the OLR for two years after reinstatement. The petition leading to Malloy’s reinstatement was his second.
Malloy’s law license had been suspended for one year in 1997. During that suspension another disciplinary complaint was filed against Malloy, leading to an additional three-month suspension, imposed consecutive to the one-year suspension. Malloy first petitioned for reinstatement in 2000. That petition was denied in 2001.
The court also ordered that before Malloy may resume the practice of law, he must rectify the administrative suspensions to which he is subject for failing to pay mandatory bar dues and for noncompliance with continuing legal education (CLE) requirements. The court held in abeyance the issue of costs to be imposed on Malloy.
Disciplinary Proceeding Against Patrick J. Hudec
On April 18, 2019, the supreme court suspended the law license of Patrick J. Hudec, East Troy, for 60 days, effective May 30, 2019, and ordered him to pay the full $4,319.04 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. The court also ordered that as a condition of reinstatement, Hudec must satisfy a judgment against him in a client’s favor in connection with the misconduct. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Hudec, 2019 WI 39.
Hudec was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1979. The misconduct leading to his 60-day suspension occurred in two matters.
In the first matter, in June 2012, a woman, A, hired Hudec to represent her in her capacity as personal representative for her mother’s estate. On Nov. 16, 2012, B, another daughter, filed a claim against the estate concerning payments made on her mother's behalf and B’s asserted interest in a house she had shared with her mother. Hudec failed to file an objection to B’s claim within 60 days as required by Wis. Stat. section 859.33. Hudec also failed to promptly respond to several of A’s emails and telephone calls requesting information regarding the estate proceeding.
In a Dec. 23, 2013 order, the circuit court granted B's motion for default judgment. On Jan. 8, 2014, Hudec filed a motion for reconsideration and a motion to reopen judgment. The circuit court denied these motions, noting that Hudec’s failure to timely file an objection to B’s claim was not the result of excusable neglect but was part of a pattern of late filings in his handling of the estate proceedings.
In November 2014, the court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s order. In doing so, it noted the circuit court’s observation that Hudec had engaged in a pattern of missed deadlines for reasons that did not meet the standard for excusable neglect. Hudec’s misconduct included violations of SCR 20:1.3, SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (4), and SCR 20:1.5(b)(1) and (2).
In the second matter, in January 2012, a client hired Hudec to pursue a defamation claim against a woman regarding the woman’s complaint to the Better Business Bureau about the client’s business. In April 2012, Hudec filed a defamation suit on behalf of the client. Over the following months, Hudec missed a variety of court-imposed deadlines. The circuit court dismissed the client’s case with prejudice, finding Hudec’s actions were egregious, extreme, substantial, and persistent.
In December 2016, the client filed a civil suit against Hudec and obtained a $9,235.48 judgment against him in December 2018. Hudec’s misconduct included violations of SCR 20:1.3, SCR 20:1.4(a)(3), and SCR 20:3.4(d).
The court concluded, “Clearly, Attorney Hudec’s many previous reprimands have not impressed upon him the importance of his ethical obligations.”
Hudec received a private reprimand in 1989, a private reprimand in 1993, a private reprimand in 2001, a public reprimand in 2008, and a public reprimand in 2014.
Disciplinary Proceeding Against Diann Burton
On March 22, 2019, the supreme court publicly reprimanded Diann Burton, Milwaukee. In addition, the court ordered that Burton pay the full $533 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. The court also ordered that the July 10, 2018, suspension of Burton’s license, imposed pursuant to SCR 22.03(4) due to Burton’s willful failure to cooperate with the OLR in an unrelated matter, remain in effect. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Burton, 2019 WI 30.
Burton failed to answer the OLR’s complaint or participate in the disciplinary proceeding and was declared in default. Burton’s misconduct consisted of continuing to engage in the practice of law after the administrative suspension of her license in October 2016 for failure to pay State Bar of Wisconsin dues.
After her suspension, Burton continued to provide legal advice to a couple who had hired her in August 2014 to file a bankruptcy petition and continued as counsel in at least eight pending bankruptcy matters, failed to inform the bankruptcy court or the clients of her suspension, and filed pleadings in many of the pending matters. Burton’s unauthorized practice violated SCR 10.03(6) and SCR 22.26(2) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f)), while her failure to notify her clients and courts before which she had pending matters violated SCR 22.26(1) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f)).
In addition, Burton’s firm name implied that her solo practice was a partnership, in violation of SCR 7.5(d), and her letterhead included the name of a suspended attorney in violation of SCR 22.27(1) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f)).
Disciplinary Proceeding Against Gary E. Grass
On April 16, 2019, the supreme court suspended the law license of Gary E. Grass, Milwaukee, for 60 days. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Grass, 2019 WI 35. The case was resolved pursuant to a stipulation between Grass and the OLR before appointment of a referee, and therefore no costs were imposed. The court lifted a temporary suspension, which was imposed pursuant to SCR 22.03(4) based on Grass’ willful noncooperation with underlying grievance investigations. Grass continues to be subject to administrative suspensions imposed as a result of noncompliance with mandatory-dues, trust-account-certification, and CLE requirements.
Grass engaged in misconduct in five client matters. In the first, Grass failed to place an advanced fee in his trust account, in violation of SCR 20:1.5(f); and willfully failed to respond to an OLR request for information, in violation of SCR 22.03(6) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h)).
In the second matter, Grass violated SCR 20:1.3, by failing to file a postconviction motion on behalf of a client; and SCR 22.26(1) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f)), by failing to notify the client of his administrative suspension and consequent inability to practice law. Grass willfully failed to cooperate with the OLR’s investigation of the matter, contrary to SCR 22.03(2) and (6) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h)).
In the third matter, Grass failed to advance a client’s appellate-level interests in a criminal case, in violation of SCR 20:1.3; failed to properly communicate with the client, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a)(3); failed to notify the client of his administrative suspension and consequent inability to practice law, in violation of SCR 22.26(1) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f)); and willfully failed to cooperate with the OLR’s investigation, in violation of SCR 22.03(2) and (6) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h)).
In the fourth matter, Grass failed to take steps to advance a client’s appellate-level interests in a criminal case, contrary to SCR 20:1.3; and willfully failed to respond to an OLR request for information in the matter, in violation of SCR 22.03(6) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h)).
In the fifth matter, Grass failed to advance a client’s appellate-level interests in a criminal case, in violation of SCR 20:1.3; failed to notify the client of his administrative suspension and consequent inability to practice law, in violation of SCR 22.26(1) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f)); and willfully failed to cooperate with the OLR’s investigation of the matter, in violation of SCR 22.03(2) and (6) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h)).
Grass had no prior discipline.
Disciplinary Proceeding Against David P.F. Templeton
On March 21, 2019, the supreme court suspended the license of David P.F. Templeton, Menasha, for six months. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Templeton, 2019 WI 29. As a condition of reinstatement, Templeton must provide signed medical releases from substance-abuse treatment providers, undergo a substance-abuse assessment and comply with its recommendations, and complete two years of monitoring as directed by the OLR. Because the disciplinary action was resolved by comprehensive stipulation with the OLR before appointment of a referee, the court did not impose costs.
On March 6, 2018, Templeton pleaded guilty to one felony count of manufacturing or delivery of heroin and one felony count of bail jumping. Templeton received an imposed but stayed sentence of two years’ initial confinement and three years’ extended supervision, as well as an imposed five-year probation sentence with credit for time served. State v. Templeton, No. 17-CF-485 (Winnebago Cty.);State v. Templeton, No. 17-CF-507 (Winnebago Cty.). By engaging in the conduct leading to his convictions, Templeton violated SCR 20:8.4(b).
Templeton’s law license was suspended on May 31, 2017, for failure to comply with CLE requirements. By failing to notify a client, opposing counsel, and the court of his license suspension, Templeton violated SCR 22.26(1)(a), (b), and (c) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f)). By practicing law after his May 31, 2017, suspension, Templeton violated SCR 22.26(2) and SCR 31.10(1) (enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f)).
Templeton had no prior discipline.