Sign In
    Wisconsin Lawyer
    November 12, 2021

    Lawyer Discipline

    The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), an agency of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, provides discipline summaries for educational purposes.


    Public Discipline

    The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), an agency of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, provides discipline summaries for educational purposes. Find the full text of these summaries at www.wicourts.gov/olr.

    Reinstatement Proceedings of Robert B. Moodie

    On Aug. 31, 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reinstated the law license of Robert B. Moodie and ordered him to pay the full $3,594.27 cost of the reinstatement proceeding. Reinstatement Proc. of Moodie, 2021 WI 75.

    Moodie was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1982. Moodie had no disciplinary history before the matter giving rise to the reinstatement proceeding. Effective June 3, 2020, the court suspended Moodie’s law license for six months as discipline for converting fees belonging to his law firm to his personal use. Disciplinary Proc. Against Moodie, 2020 WI 39.

    On Oct. 1, 2020, Moodie filed a petition for reinstatement. On Oct. 12, 2020, the court appointed a referee, who conducted a reinstatement hearing on April 8, 2021. On May 12, 2021, the referee filed a report recommending the court reinstate Moodie’s law license. The referee noted that the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) had no objection to Moodie’s reinstatement. The court stated, “The referee observed that Moodie testified in a contrite and forthright manner during the reinstatement hearing and expressed ‘abject remorse and shame’ for his misconduct.”

    The court granted reinstatement, stating, “Ultimately, the referee wrote that she was ‘satisfied that Mr. Moodie has complied with all requirements for reinstatement, that he understands the wrongfulness of his conduct and his underlying motivation for it, that he is authentically remorseful, and has indeed become a better person’ during the four years since his misconduct came to light.”

    Public Reprimand of Mark S. Tishberg

    The OLR and Mark S. Tishberg, Mequon, entered into an agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A supreme court-appointed referee thereafter approved the agreement, and issued the public reprimand in accordance with SCR 22.09(3) on Aug. 28, 2021.

    Tishberg engaged in misconduct in three separate client matters.

    In the first matter, Tishberg represented a client in a divorce. While the divorce was ongoing, Tishberg also agreed to represent the client in an unrelated civil matter and other legal matters. Tishberg violated SCR 20:1.3 in multiple instances in the divorce matter and civil matter, including failing to timely file findings of fact, conclusions of law, and judgment, and failing to timely address a motion for default judgment that was ultimately entered against the client. Tishberg also failed to provide the client with a written fee agreement defining the scope of his representations and explaining the purpose and effect of the fees and advanced fees paid to him, in violation of SCR 20:1.5(b)(1) and (2).

    In the second matter, Tishberg represented a client in two separate criminal cases in separate counties. Tishberg violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to respond to a letter from a staff attorney from the Milwaukee County Clerk of Circuit Court– Criminal Division, requesting that he provide additional information relating to a motion to modify sentence.

    In the third matter, Tishberg represented a client in a Milwaukee County criminal matter and revocation matter. Tishberg failed to file a petition for a writ of certiorari on the client’s behalf by the statutory deadline because of miscalculating the deadline or erroneously believing the deadline had been extended, in violation of SCR 20:1.1.

    Tishberg received public reprimands in 2020 and 2014.

    Reinstatement of Daniel Parks

    On Aug. 20, 2021, the supreme court reinstated the law license of Daniel Parks with conditions. Disciplinary Proc. Against Parks, 2021 WI 74.

    Effective Jan. 24, 2019, Parks’ Wisconsin law license was suspended for 14 months. Parks’ suspension was based on misconduct including violations of SCR 20:8.4(c) and the Shea standard, SCR 20:8.4(f), for earning fees on the side from non-firm work while employed by the firm, arranging for clients to perform work for him in exchange for reduced legal fees and otherwise reducing fees without the firm’s approval, and accepting an unauthorized “gift” of $5,000 related to his reduction of a client’s legal fees without authorization from the firm. Parks’ misconduct also included a violation of SCR 20:1.6(a) for working on client files on an unsecured offsite computer belonging to someone else and a violation of SCR 20:8.4(c) for obtaining heirs’ signatures on a release designed to limit his liability without properly explaining his role in the matter. The court ordered Parks to pay costs of $42,226.26 but did not order restitution. Disciplinary Proc. Against Parks, 2018 WI 110.

    Parks filed a petition for reinstatement on Jan. 9, 2020. Following a hearing and referee’s report, the supreme court denied his petition on Feb. 11, 2021, citing Parks’ failure to make an effort to pay restitution to those harmed by his misconduct. The court waived the requirement that Parks wait nine months before filing a subsequent reinstatement petition, instead allowing him to petition upon a showing that he had addressed the issue of restitution. The court further ordered that within 60 days, Parks pay the $6,370.43 cost associated with the reinstatement proceeding or enter into a payment plan with the OLR. Disciplinary Proc. Against Parks, 2021 WI 10.

    After entering into agreements to pay restitution to his former firm and a person harmed by his misconduct, and making initial payments on those plans, Parks filed his second petition for reinstatement on April 2, 2021.

    Following investigation, the OLR filed a SCR 22.30(4) response supporting Parks’ second petition. The OLR and Parks later filed an SCR 22.30(5)(a) stipulation requesting reinstatement conditioned on Parks complying with restitution and cost agreements. The court approved the stipulation and issued an order reinstating Parks’ license.

    Disciplinary Proceedings Against Sandra J. Zenor

    On Sept. 28, 2021, the supreme court suspended the law license of Sandra J. Zenor, Watertown, for 60 days, effective Nov. 9, 2021, and ordered her to pay the full $1,733.49 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proc. Against Zenor, 2021 WI 77.

    In August 2013, Zenor commenced a negligence lawsuit for a client. Zenor’s client owed money to two entities for services in connection with the claim. In May 2014, Zenor settled the case on the client’s behalf. She deposited the settlement check into her trust account and timely disbursed the settlement funds to the client and paid her own attorney fees. However, she kept the funds ($2,157.50) to pay the two entities in her business account and then failed to timely disburse them, despite reminders from the client and Zenor’s office manager. Even after the debts were submitted to collection agencies, Zenor failed to respond to the client’s repeated requests that Zenor resolve the debts. During this time, Zenor technically used the funds owed to the two entities for her own use. In October 2019, Zenor finally satisfied the two outstanding financial obligations.

    By depositing the settlement funds that were owed to two entities into her corporate checking account and failing to hold those funds in trust, Zenor violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(1). By failing to promptly deliver to two entities the funds they were entitled to receive, Zenor violated former SCR 20:1.15(d)(l) and SCR 20:1.15(e)(1). By converting settlement funds owed to two entities, Zenor violated SCR 20:8.4(c). By failing to respond to the client’s telephone calls and letter requesting information, Zenor violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(4).

    Zenor had no prior discipline.


    Private Discipline

    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.

    Lack of Competence, Diligence, and Communication

    Violations of SCR 20:1.1, SCR 20:1.3, and SCR 20:1.4(a) and (b)

    An attorney represented a client as personal representative and trustee of a relative’s estate and trust. The client brought information to the attorney’s attention that led the client to believe the attorney might have made errors when drafting a trust amendment and raised the possibility that the client might want to contest the trust as a beneficiary. The attorney did not advise the client of potential conflicts of interest these circumstances raised for both the attorney and the client in violation of SCR 20:1.4(b), which requires that a lawyer explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.

    The attorney filed an application for informal probate in March 2017 and a general inventory in October 2017. However, the attorney did not complete the work to close the estate until December 2018. By taking so long to complete the estate without any legitimate explanation for the delay, the attorney violated SCR 20:1.3, which requires that a lawyer act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. The attorney also failed for six months to respond to the client’s requests for information regarding the status in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a)(4), which requires that a lawyer promptly comply with reasonable requests by the client for information.

    Another trust beneficiary retained counsel, who wrote to the attorney requesting that the client-trustee provide a trust accounting. The attorney failed to provide a trust accounting in violation of SCR 20:1.3. The attorney also failed to advise the client that a trust accounting had been requested and of the client’s corresponding statutory duty to provide one, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a)(3), which requires that a lawyer keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter, and SCR 20:1.1, which requires that a lawyer provide competent representation.

    Lack of Diligence, Lack of Communication Regarding Fees, and Failure to Withdraw

    Violations of SCR 20:1.3, SCR 20:1.5(b)(3), and SCR 20:1.16(a)(3)

    An attorney represented a client in a divorce case. The court issued an order that the parties attend a parenting class. The client completed the class and sent the attorney the certificate of completion. The attorney was to submit the certificate of completion to the court but did not do so until approximately 10 months later, after the court sent a letter indicating the client did not complete the class. The attorney also missed a scheduled pretrial conference. By failing to promptly submit proof of the client’s completion of a court-ordered parenting class and by missing a scheduled court hearing, the attorney violated SCR 20:1.3, which requires that a lawyer act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

    The client made numerous requests to the attorney for an invoice. Despite acknowledging the requests, the attorney took more than eight months to provide the client an invoice. By this conduct, the attorney violated SCR 20:1.5(b)(3), which requires that a lawyer promptly respond to a client’s request for information concerning fees and expenses.

    The client terminated the attorney’s services. At the next court hearing, the court directed the attorney to submit a letter to the court stating that the attorney was no longer representing the client, but the attorney failed to do so. By failing to submit a withdrawal letter to the court, the attorney violated SCR 20:1.16(a)(3), which requires that a lawyer withdraw from the representation of a client if the lawyer is discharged.

    The attorney had prior discipline; however, there were also significant mitigating circumstances.

    Criminal Act Reflecting Adversely on Fitness to Practice

    Violation of SCR 20:8.4(b)

    An attorney was charged with misdemeanor counts of third-offense operating while intoxicated (OWI) and third-offense operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration (PAC). A retail store employee refused to sell the attorney alcohol because the attorney appeared intoxicated. The employee then provided police with a description of the vehicle that the attorney drove from the store. Police officers located the attorney and initiated a traffic stop. The attorney exhibited signs of intoxication, declined to perform field sobriety tests, and was arrested for OWI. The attorney submitted to a blood draw, with a result of 0.087 g/100mL.

    Pursuant to a no-contest plea, the attorney was convicted of third-offense operating with a PAC. The third-offense OWI charge was dismissed on the prosecutor’s motion. The attorney’s sentence included 45 days in jail (participation in the Safe Streets Treatment Options Program (SSTOP) ordered, 31 days stayed, remainder of sentence to be served with Huber privileges), driver’s license revocation for 24 months, and ignition interlock device installation for 24 months. The attorney was also ordered to provide a biological specimen for DNA analysis, undergo an alcohol assessment, and pay a fine and costs.

    By engaging in conduct leading to a misdemeanor conviction of third-offense operating with a PAC, the attorney violated SCR 20:8.4(b).

    The attorney had a prior private reprimand for unrelated misconduct.

    Lack of Diligence and Communication, Engaging in Dishonesty or Misrepresentation, Knowingly Disobeying an Obligation Under the Rules of a Tribunal, and Failure to Surrender Papers and Property

    Violations of SCR 20:1.4(a)(4) and (b), SCR 20:1.3, SCR 20:8.4(c), SCR 20:3.4(c), and SCR 20:1.16(d).

    An attorney represented a client in a divorce. The attorney failed to respond to the client’s multiple attempts to request information and failed to keep scheduled meetings with the client, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a)(4), which requires a lawyer to promptly comply with reasonable requests for information. The attorney also failed to adequately explain discovery documents with the client, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(b).

    Further, the attorney repeatedly missed meetings with the client and a court date, resulting in the court issuing an order to show cause, in violation of SCR 20:1.3, which requires that a lawyer act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. When the attorney then failed to respond the court’s order to show cause, the attorney violated 20:3.4(c), which states that a lawyer shall not knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal.

    The attorney also told the client he was excused from court and then informed the court the client was “sick,” and, further, initially informed the OLR that the attorney did not miss any court dates, in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c), which states that it is misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

    After the communication breakdown, the client terminated the attorney’s services. The new attorney requested the client’s file. The attorney only provided a partial file, in violation of SCR 20:1.16(d), which requires that, upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to surrender papers and property to which the client is entitled.

    The attorney had no prior discipline.

    Lack of Competence, Diligence, and Communication

    Violations of SCR 20:1.1, SCR 20:1.3, SCR 20:1.4(b)

    An attorney was appointed to represent a man in revocation proceedings and a new criminal matter.

    The attorney contacted the client’s probation and parole agent to request a copy of a potentially exculpatory audiovisual recording. The agent responded that if the district attorney’s office released the recording to her, she would provide a copy.

    The attorney did not inform the administrative law judge (ALJ) during the revocation hearing that he never received the audiovisual recording nor did he request adjournment of the hearing. The ALJ revoked the client’s extended supervision and ordered confinement for one year.

    The attorney wrote to an administrator with the Division of Hearings and Appeals requesting reversal of the ALJ’s decision, noting that the digital evidence was not provided to the client before or during the revocation hearing. The administrator sustained the ALJ’s decision and order.

    The client asked the attorney for an exculpatory review and to file a bond motion. The attorney never determined what the client meant when he requested an exculpatory review and believed the question of bond modification was resolved.

    By failing to pursue potentially exculpatory police recordings of the events that led to the client’s revocation, and failing to request an adjournment of the revocation proceedings to have more time to obtain the recordings, the attorney violated SCR 1.1 and SCR 20:1.3.

    By failing to ascertain what the client was requesting regarding bond modification and exculpatory review, and then failing to explain those issues so the client could make informed decisions regarding his matters, the attorney violated SCR 20:1.4(b).

    The attorney was previously disciplined on several occasions, the last time in 2007.

    Lack of Diligence

    Violation of SCR 20:1.3

    An attorney was appointed to represent a client in a criminal matter. On or about June 28, 2018, the attorney received an email from predecessor counsel as well as paper discovery that predecessor counsel had received from the prosecution. When the attorney received the paper discovery, the attorney had not yet received certain digital discovery from the state, notably recorded interrogations. The attorney did not file a supplemental demand for discovery relating to recorded interrogations until March 4, 2019. On April 15, 2019, the date scheduled for the client’s trial, the attorney filed a motion to adjourn because he had only just received (on April 12, 2019) a complete set of discovery, including items that the attorney had not yet been able to share with the client. That same day, the court granted the client’s request for new counsel and allowed the attorney to withdraw. By failing to file a supplemental demand for discovery until approximately eight months after receiving discovery from prior counsel, the attorney violated SCR 20:1.3.

    The attorney received a private reprimand in 1999 and public reprimands in 2004 and 2005. The attorney received 60-day suspensions in 2010 and 2020.




News & Pubs Search

-
Format: MM/DD/YYYY