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.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Theodore F. Mazza
On Sept. 1, 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted an SCR 22.19 petition for consensual license revocation filed by Theodore F. Mazza, who practiced law in Pewaukee and Whitefish Bay. Mazza’s petition acknowledged he could not successfully defend against allegations of professional misconduct set forth in a pending complaint filed by the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and in three grievances that had not yet been fully investigated by the OLR. In addition to revoking Mazza’s license to practice law, the court also ordered Mazza to pay restitution totaling $22,851.97 and to pay the $2,642.34 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proc. Against Mazza, 2020 WI 73.
The OLR’s complaint alleged 13 counts of misconduct arising out of two client matters, one of which involved a client who asked Mazza to manage his financial interests during the client’s incarceration. Mazza acknowledged that he could not successfully defend against allegations that he violated the following rules: SCR 20:1.3, by failing to diligently and promptly pursue the client’s interests; former SCR 20:1.15(j)(1) and current SCR 20:1.15(b)(1), by failing to hold the client’s funds and property in trust, separate from Mazza’s own funds and property; SCR 20:8.4(c), by converting to his own use funds and property entrusted to him by the client and funds belonging to the client in his possession related to the representation and by misrepresenting to the client that the client’s funds were “tied up” due to actions by the Internal Revenue Service; SCR 20:1.15(d)(2), by failing to timely provide the client with an accounting; SCR 20:1.5(b)(1), by failing to clearly and accurately explain to the client the basis or rate of his fees; SCR 20:1.5(b)(3), by failing to timely respond to the client’s reasonable requests for information concerning the fees and expenses the client could incur or had incurred; SCR 20:1.15(d)(1), by failing to promptly notify the client of Mazza’s receipt of funds in which the client had an interest; SCR 20:1.4(b), by failing to provide the client with an accurate understanding of the timing and steps necessary to pursue the client’s interests so that the client could make informed decisions about the matter and representation; and SCR 22.03(6), enforceable via SCR 20:8.4(h), by making misrepresentations to the OLR during its investigations.
Mazza also acknowledged that he could not successfully defend against allegations being investigated in three pending OLR grievance matters.
Mazza was disciplined on two prior occasions. In 1978, Mazza’s law license was indefinitely suspended, with leave to apply for reinstatement after one year, for misconduct consisting of misuse of client funds and neglect of legal matters. Disciplinary Proc. Against Mazza, 82 Wis. 2d 598, 262 N.W.2d 767 (1978). In 1984, Mazza’s law license was revoked based on his conviction of a criminal charge of conspiracy to commit theft as party to a crime. Disciplinary Proc. Against Mazza, 117 Wis. 2d 770, 345 N.W.2d 492 (1984). The court reinstated Mazza’s law license in 2002. In re Reinstatement of Mazza, 2002 WI 36, 252 Wis. 2d 86, 643 N.W.2d 83.