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 Elvis C. Banks
On June 3, 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted, with conditions, the petition of Elvis Banks to reinstate his law license from a revocation imposed in 2003. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Banks, 2020 WI 51.
Banks’ petition, filed in 2018, was his second. The court denied Banks’ first petition, filed in 2009. The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) initially opposed Banks’ 2018 petition based on several concerns, including his failure to pay the $11,430.04 in costs he still owed in connection with his disciplinary proceeding and prior reinstatement attempt. The OLR withdrew opposition to Banks’ petition after a June 2019 public hearing and Banks’ agreement to a monthly payment plan for costs.
The court determined that, despite the lack of specific findings by the referee regarding the reinstatement criteria Banks was required to prove, given the parties’ agreement that Banks had met the requirements for reinstatement, the court’s independent review of the record, and the particular circumstances of the case, Banks was entitled to reinstatement. The court ordered that Banks be reinstated with the conditions that he comply with his agreement to pay costs, that he arrange to pay the $900 in restitution owed to the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, and that he provide the OLR an annual financial statement with copies of his federal and state tax returns until he has paid the costs and restitution owed. Finally, the court ordered Banks to pay the full cost of the current proceeding, which totaled $4,205.80, within 60 days or enter a payment plan with the OLR to do so.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Diane R. Caspari
On May 28, 2020, pursuant to a stipulation filed under SCR 22.12 between the OLR and Diane R. Caspari, Milwaukee, the supreme court suspended Caspari’s law license for 90 days, effective July 9, 2020. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Caspari, 2020 WI 49. The court did not impose costs because the matter was resolved by stipulation without need to appoint a referee.
The Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office appointed Caspari to represent two clients in separate matters. Caspari hired a psychologist to conduct an evaluation of one client and a legal competency evaluation of the other. Caspari received a total of $4,962.50 in state funds to pay the psychologist. In violation of SCR 20:1.15(b)(1), Caspari did not deposit the funds into a trust account, instead depositing them into her business checking account. Caspari failed to promptly notify the psychologist of her receipt of the funds and failed to promptly deliver the funds to him, in violation of SCR 20:1.15(e)(1). Caspari converted the funds to her own use, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c). Caspari eventually made two $50 payments to the psychologist.
In addition to the 90-day suspension of Caspari’s law license, the court ordered that Caspari make a $4,862.50 restitution payment to the psychologist within 60 days after its order.
Caspari received a private reprimand in 2015 and a 60-day license suspension in 2016.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Peter J. Kovac
In two separate decisions, the supreme court suspended the law license of Peter J. Kovac, Milwaukee, for five months, with a concurrent suspension effective July 8, 2020. Disciplinary Proceeding Against Kovac, 2020 WI 47 (decided May 27, 2020); Disciplinary Proceedings Against Kovac, 2020 WI 58 (decided June 23, 2020). Kovac was further ordered to pay the full cost of each proceeding: $7,401.87 in 2020 WI 47; and $4,403.92 in 2020 WI 58.
In 2020 WI 47, Kovac engaged in misconduct in four client matters. In the first, Kovac violated SCR 20:1.16(d) by failing to deliver the client’s file to successor counsel, despite repeated requests that he do so. In the second matter, Kovac violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to pursue postconviction relief in circuit court or an appeal on the client’s behalf after filing a notice of intent to pursue postconviction relief. In the third, Kovac violated SCR 20:1.16(d) by failing to deliver trial transcripts to the client upon termination of representation. In the final matter and in each of the first two matters, Kovac violated SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(h), by failing to timely respond to the OLR’s requests for responses to each of the three grievances.
In 2020 WI 58, Kovac engaged in misconduct in two client matters. In each matter Kovac violated SCR 20:1.16(d) by failing to provide the client’s case file to either the client or successor counsel. Kovac also violated SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(h), in both matters by failing to timely respond to the OLR’s requests for responses to each grievance. The court noted that the misconduct largely overlapped in time with the misconduct in 2020 WI 47, thus warranting a concurrent suspension covering both cases.
Kovacreceived public reprimands in 2008 and 2012. In 2016, Kovac’s law license was suspended for 90 days.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Robert C. Menard
On May 29, 2020, the supreme court revoked the law license of Robert C. Menard, Milwaukee. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Menard, 2020 WI 50. The court further ordered Menard to make restitution to multiple parties totaling $97,692.49 (minus the amount Menard can show he paid with respect to one party) and to pay the full cost of the disciplinary proceeding, $18,191.42.
Menard stipulated to 30 counts of misconduct relating to 13 client matters. Menard primarily practiced worker’s compensation and personal injury law. Menard engaged in a pattern of conduct of transferring client funds from his trust account to his business account and also directly depositing client funds to his business account to cover business and personal expenses.
In the matters the OLR charged, Menard engaged in 13 counts of misconduct involving conversion of client funds totaling up to $744,006.27 to cover overdrafts on his business account, to make payments to himself, and to cover payments to other clients and third parties, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c). Menard violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(1) in three instances involving a failure to hold in trust as much as $604,419.15 relating to three client matters.
Menard engaged in two instances of misconduct in which he deposited or directed the deposit of as many as 175 checks totaling $4,608,355.64 to his two business accounts, which checks should have been deposited to one of his two trust accounts, in violation of SCR 20:1.15(b)(1). By falsely informing a client that he had made payments totaling $20,115.52 to two medical creditors on the client’s behalf, Menard violated SCR 20:8.4(c). By failing to promptly deliver the $20,115.52 to the two medical creditors pursuant to a settlement agreement, Menard violated SCR 20:1.15(e)(1). By failing to disburse settlement funds to a client, Menard violated former SCR 20:1.15(d)(1) and current SCR 20:1.15(e)(1).
By disbursing and failing to hold in trust $29,105.65 that he received in 2013 as a guardian ad litem on behalf of a minor, Menard violated former SCR 20:1.15(j)(1). By failing to abide by a court order that Menard deposit $29,105.65 in an interest-bearing account until the minor reached the age of 18, Menard violated SCR 20:3.4(c). Menard failed to fully and accurately respond to two clients’ requests for information regarding the status of their settlement funds, in each instance violating SCR 20:1.4(a)(4). By failing to provide a client with a full accounting of settlement funds upon their final distribution, Menard violated former SCR 20:1.15(d)(2) and current SCR 20:1.15(e)(2).
By conducting 46 telephone and internet transactions in his trust accounts, Menard violated former SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)b. and c. By failing to preserve transaction registers and client ledgers for at least six years after the termination of representation, Menard violated former SCR 20:1.15(e)(6). By failing to regularly back up computer trust account records, Menard violated former SCR 20:1.15(f)(4)a. By failing to print a copy of the transaction register and client ledgers, Menard violated former SCR 20:1.15(f)(4)b.
Menard had no prior discipline.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Wendy Alison Nora
In a July 14, 2020 decision, the supreme court suspended the law license of Wendy Alison Nora, Minneapolis, for two years, effective April 1, 2020. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Nora, 2020 WI 70. The court further ordered that if Nora seeks reinstatement of her license, her reinstatement petition must allege that she has made a good-faith effort to pay all outstanding amounts that she personally owes as a result of sanction orders imposed by any court, and she must prove that good-faith effort as one of the conditions of reinstatement. The OLR requested that the court not order costs in the matter of the disciplinary action, and none were ordered. Nora lives in Minnesota and had been licensed to practice law in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Nora’s misconduct arose from two matters in which she represented clients defending against foreclosure of their homes. The first client matter resulted in three counts of misconduct. By removing a state court foreclosure matter to the federal court when there was no colorable basis for federal jurisdiction and by filing a frivolous motion to reconsider the order remanding the matter back to the state court, Nora violated SCR 20:3.1(a). By filing a frivolous appeal on behalf of both her client and herself personally when she was not a party to the litigation and by engaging in an ongoing pattern of conduct to harass other parties and judicial officers and to delay the proceedings, Nora violated SCR 20:3.2. By engaging in an ongoing pattern of conduct to harass other parties and judicial officers and to delay the proceedings, Nora violated the Attorney’s Oath in SCR 40.15, which is enforced via SCR 20:8.4(g).
The second client matter resulted in two counts of misconduct. By filing a motion to intervene and a motion for relief from the U.S. District Court’s prior orders pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(2), which motions were found to be frivolous, after the U.S. District Court had warned Nora that any further frivolous submissions would result in an award of sanctions, Nora violated SCR 20:3.1(a). By filing a motion to intervene personally and a motion for relief from the federal district court’s prior order, both of which were found to be frivolous, Nora violated SCR 20:3.2.
Nora received a 30-day suspension in 1993 as discipline reciprocal to that imposed by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In 2018, Nora received a one-year suspension for violations of SCR 20:3.1(a) and SCR 20:3.3(a)(1).
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Christopher S. Petros
In a July 22, 2020 decision, the supreme court suspended the law license of Christopher S. Petros, Hudson, for two years. The court further ordered Petros to pay restitution of $24,000 to the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection and the cost of the disciplinary proceeding, $4,387.44. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Petros, 2020 WI 71.
Petros committed 24 counts of misconduct across seven client matters. Petros’ misconduct included five violations of SCR 20:1.3 (lack of diligence); four violations of SCR 20:1.4(a)(4) (failure to communicate); two violations of SCR 20:1.16(d) (failure to refund unearned fees); one violation of SCR 20:1.15(b) (failure to hold client funds in trust); four violations of SCR 20:8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, including one count for converting approximately $22,000 in funds belonging to a vulnerable client); and eight violations of SCR 22.03(2) and (6) (failure to cooperate with the OLR’s investigations).
Petros’ license was suspended for 90 days in 2014. In 2017 he was publicly reprimanded. His license is also currently suspended for noncompliance with continuing legal education requirements.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Stanley Whitmore Davis
On June 12, 2020, the supreme court suspended the law license of Stanley Whitmore Davis, Madison, for one year. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Davis, 2020 WI 48. The court further ordered Davis to pay $2,500 in restitution to a particular client and $3,750 to the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, as well as the cost of the disciplinary proceeding, $2,601.62. Additionally, the court ordered that as a condition of reinstatement, Davis will be required to show that he has made full restitution or settled all claims of the parties harmed by his misconduct in the matters leading to the suspension. The court lifted a temporary suspension imposed pursuant to SCR 22.03(4) due to Davis’ willful noncooperation with underlying grievance investigations. In addition to the one-year disciplinary suspension, Davis remains subject to administrative suspensions imposed for noncompliance with mandatory dues, trust account certification, and continuing legal education requirements.
Davis engaged in 36 counts of misconduct across eight client matters. Davis’ misconduct included missing deadlines; failing to pursue client claims; lying to clients about the status of cases; failing to return unearned fees; failing to inform clients, opposing counsel, and courts when his law license had been suspended; continuing to represent clients and provide legal services after his law license was suspended; and failing to cooperate with the OLR investigations. In his representation of clients, Davis violated SCR 20:1.1, 20:1.3, 20:1.4(a)(2) and (3), 20:1.5(b)(1) and (c), 20:1.16(d), 20:3.4(c), and 20:8.4(c). By continuing to represent clients and provide legal services after his law license suspensions, Davis violated SCR 10.03(6), 22.26(2), and 31.10(1), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(f). By failing to provide notice of license suspensions, Davis violated SCR 22.26(1)(a)-(c), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(f). Davis’ failures to cooperate with the OLR investigations violated SCR 22.03(2) or (6), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(h).
Davis had no prior discipline.