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 Jesse Johansen
On April 9, 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of Jesse Johansen, Superior, for six months. The court also ordered Johansen to pay the $5,253.95 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. In addition, the court ordered Johansen to pay $1,500 in restitution to the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, $2,900 in restitution to two former clients, and $250 in restitution to a Wisconsin lawyer. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Johansen, 2020 WI 32.
Johansen’s misconduct occurred in multiple client matters. In the first matter, Johansen agreed to represent a client in a personal injury case but did not provide the client a written contingent fee agreement. After settling the case, Johansen mishandled settlement proceeds, thus violating numerous trust account rules and acting deceitfully toward the client. Johansen also failed to cooperate in the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) investigation. The court found that Johansen violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(1) and (3), SCR 20:1.15(e)(1) and (2), SCR 20:1.15(f)(2)(a), SCR 20:1.15(g)(1), SCR 20:8.4(c), and SCR 22.03(6), enforceable through SCR 20:8.4(h).
In the second matter, Johansen accepted a $1,500 advanced fee to handle a client’s divorce. After the client’s status-update requests went unanswered, the client terminated the representation and asked for a refund of her fee. Johansen failed to respond. The client subsequently sued Johansen in small claims court and obtained a default judgment for the fee. Johansen then failed to respond to court orders associated with the judgment. After the client filed a grievance with the OLR, Johansen failed to cooperate with the investigation. Johansen violated SCR 20:1.16(d), SCR 20:3.4(c), and SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(h).
In a third client matter, Johansen accepted a $2,000 advanced fee to handle a criminal case. Johansen failed to prepare a written fee agreement outlining the terms of the representation or the purpose and effect of the advanced fee. Johansen made one appearance on behalf of the client, but thereafter the court suspended Johansen’s law license for his failure to cooperate in another OLR matter. Johansen did not respond to the client’s request for a refund, nor did Johansen cooperate in the investigation of the grievance. Johansen violated SCR 20:1.5(b)(1) and (2), SCR 20:1.16(d), and SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(h).
In a fourth client matter, Johansen accepted $900 as an advanced fee in a criminal matter. After the suspension of his law license, Johansen did not advise the client of his suspension and the need to obtain a new attorney. Johansen also did not refund any of the advanced fee and failed to cooperate in the investigation. Johansen violated SCR 22.26(1)(a) and (b), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(f); SCR 20:1.16(d); and SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(h).
Johansen had no prior discipline.
Public Reprimand of Michael F. Bishop
The OLR and Michael F. Bishop, Milwaukee, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A referee appointed by the supreme court approved the agreement, and issued the public reprimand in accordance with SCR 22.09(3) on March 19, 2020.
Between July 15 and July 30, 2019, there were three overdrafts on Bishop’s IOLTA trust account.
Bishop closed his business account at a bank and, for a short time, was using his trust account, at a different financial institution, to deposit earned fees paid to him for legal representation. On July 9, 2019, Bishop deposited $1,925 in earned fees to the trust account. One of the deposit items, a client’s check for $800, was returned unpaid on July 12, 2019. On July 24, 2019, Bishop made another deposit of $4,000 in earned fees. Between July 15 and July 30, 2019, Bishop made five cash withdrawals from the trust account, which resulted in the overdrafts because the remaining balance in the trust account was insufficient to cover the withdrawals. Bishop later deposited personal funds to cure the overdrafts. On Aug. 16, 2019, Bishop made one more cash withdrawal.
Aside from the earned fees there were no other funds in the trust account, and no client funds were placed in jeopardy by the overdrafts. Bishop has since opened a new business account where he can properly deposit earned fees and other funds belonging to him.
By depositing to his trust account earned fees, and by failing to maintain a business account in which to deposit the earned fees and other funds belonging to him, Bishop violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(3), which states, “Lawyer funds. No funds belonging to a lawyer or law firm, except funds reasonably sufficient to pay monthly account service charges, may be deposited or retained in a trust account. Each lawyer or law firm that receives trust funds shall maintain at least one draft account, other than the trust account, for funds received and disbursed other than in a trust capacity, which shall be entitled ‘Business Account,’ ‘Office Account,’ ‘Operating Account,’ or words of similar import.”
By making cash withdrawals from his trust account, Bishop violated SCR 20:1.15(f)(2)a., which states, “Cash. No withdrawal of cash shall be made from a trust account or from a deposit to a trust account. No check shall be made payable to ‘Cash.’ No withdrawal shall be made from a trust account by automated teller or cash dispensing machine.”
On Jan. 17, 2014, Bishop was publicly reprimanded for violations of supreme court rules governing trust accounts. On Oct. 18, 2016, Bishop’s law license was suspended for 60 days for trust account violations and failing to cooperate with an OLR investigation.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Willem James Noorlander
On April 9, 2020, the supreme court suspended the law license of Willem James Noorlander, Milwaukee, for 60 days. Because Noorlander entered into a stipulation under SCR 22.12, the court did not impose costs. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Noorlander, 2020 WI 31.
Noorlander engaged in misconduct in two matters.
In the first matter, Noorlander represented a client in a civil lawsuit that he filed on the client’s behalf in Racine County. On Oct. 27, 2015, the circuit court issued an order stating that the client’s case would be dismissed in 20 days unless good cause was shown as to why the order should not be entered. Noorlander failed to respond to the order and the circuit court dismissed the client’s case without prejudice, due to Noorlander’s failure to serve the defendant or to prosecute the matter. Noorlander did not inform the client that the case had been dismissed and later told the client that he had obtained a judgment against the defendant, which was not true.
In September 2017, Noorlander informed the client that the defendant had filed a motion to vacate the (fictitious) judgment. Noorlander provided the client with a fabricated “Motion to Vacate,” which he had drafted with a purported electronic signature of defense counsel. The fabricated motion contained defense counsel’s name and address but an incorrect State Bar number.
By representing to the client that he had obtained a judgment against the defendant in the Racine County case when in fact he had not done so, drafting a fabricated “Motion to Vacate” in the name of defense counsel, and concealing from the client that the case had been dismissed, Noorlander violated SCR 20:8.4(c).
In the second matter, beginning in July 2016 Noorlander represented a client who wished to pursue a breach-of-contract and replevin case.
Noorlander failed to file the replevin action requested by the client, in violation of SCR 20:1.3. Noorlander failed to keep the client reasonably informed regarding the status of the case and failed to respond to the client’s emails and telephone calls requesting information, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (4). Noorlander informed the client that he had filed the replevin action, when in fact he had not done so, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c). Noorlander willfully failed to provide the OLR with a timely written response to the client’s grievance, in violation of SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(h).
Noorlander had no prior discipline.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Robert B. Moodie
On April 22, 2020, the supreme court suspended the law license of Robert B. Moodie, Waukesha, for six months, effective June 3, 2020, and ordered him to pay the full $6,081.63 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Moodie, 2020 WI 39.
In September 2016, Moodie suffered a serious health event resulting in a lengthy hospitalization. During Moodie’s absence, other members of his firm assumed responsibility for his client files, including the management of his billing. While handling Moodie’s files and billing, the firm discovered that over an 18-month period, Moodie had converted fees in five client matters for his personal use. In some matters, Moodie received billed fees directly from the client and failed to tender them to the firm; in others, he collected money directly from the client and then wrote off his billable time. The converted fees totaled $8,665.
In November 2016, after the firm discovered Moodie’s misappropriations, Moodie consented to the redemption of his shares in the firm, ending his employment there. As part of the redemption, claims by the firm against Moodie were settled.
By converting at least $8,665 in fees belonging to the law firm for his own personal use, Moodie violated SCR 20:8.4(c). By failing to tender and report to the law firm fees that he received, and by misrepresenting write-offs of billable time to the firm, Moodie breached his fiduciary duty to the firm, and the duty of honesty in his professional dealings with the firm, in violation of the standard of conduct set forth in In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Shea, 190 Wis. 2d 560, 527 N.W.2d 314 (1995), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(f).
Moodie had no prior discipline.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Patrick J. Hudec
On April 16, 2020, the supreme court suspended the law license of Patrick J. Hudec, East Troy, for 60 days, effective May 28, 2020, and ordered him to pay the full $3,991.10 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. The court further ordered as a condition of license reinstatement that Hudec attend and successfully complete an OLR trust account seminar within one year after the date of the order. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Hudec, 2020 WI 37.
On Jan. 17, 2017, the OLR received notice of an overdraft on Hudec’s trust account. The OLR later received notice of several additional overdrafts. A review of Hudec’s trust account statements revealed that Hudec disbursed funds from his trust account dozens of times to pay personal or law firm expenses. During the same time period, Hudec made trust account checks payable to “cash” and made cash withdrawals from his trust account on multiple occasions.
Hudec then failed to cooperate with the OLR’s investigation. On Sept. 6, 2017, the OLR requested a written response from Hudec. Hudec did not timely respond. He requested extensions of time to respond but then repeatedly failed to meet the extended deadlines and failed to provide the OLR with the requested information despite the OLR’s multiple attempts to contact him.
In January 2018, on the OLR’s motion, the supreme court issued Hudec an order to show cause why his law license should not be temporarily suspended for willfully failing to cooperate with the OLR’s investigation. Thereafter, Hudec provided the OLR with sufficient information, and the OLR withdrew its motion.
In June 2018, the OLR sought additional information from Hudec. He failed to timely respond, requested extensions of time, and then again failed to respond. In September 2018, on the OLR’s motion, the court issued another order requiring Hudec to show cause why his law license should not be temporarily suspended for a willful failure to cooperate with the OLR’s investigation. Hudec requested and received two extensions of time from the court but failed to timely respond to the court’s order. On Nov. 8, 2018, Hudec finally provided the OLR with sufficient information, and the OLR withdrew its motion.
By depositing and retaining funds belonging to himself or his law firm in his trust account, Hudec violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(3). By making trust account checks payable to “cash” and making cash withdrawals from his trust account, Hudec violated SCR 20:1.15(f)(2)a. By having trust account checks returned for insufficient funds, and therefore disbursing funds from his trust account without the funds being available for disbursement, Hudec violated SCR 20:1.15(f)(4)a. Hudec’s failure to cooperate with the OLR violated SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(h).
Hudec received private reprimands in 1989, 1993, and 2001; public reprimands in 2008 and 2014; and a 60-day suspension in 2019.