The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), an agency of the Wisconsin
Supreme Court, provides these summaries. 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. Find
the full text of these summaries at www.wicourts.gov/olr.
Disciplinary Proceeding Against Cheryl Marie Gill
The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and Cheryl Marie Gill, La Crosse, agreed to the imposition of a public reprimand in accordance with SCR 22.09(1). A Wisconsin Supreme Court-appointed referee approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on Oct. 12, 2022, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3). Public Reprimand of Gill, 22 OLR 7.
On Feb. 7, 2020, the State Public Defender (SPD) appointed Gill to represent a person in two pending criminal cases. Other than a letter dated Feb. 10, 2020, in which Gill notified the client that she had been appointed to represent him, Gill sent the client no written communications. Gill never contacted the client’s correctional institution to schedule a telephone call or visit with the client.
In seven letters sent to Gill between February 2020 and October 2020, the client provided her with information and asked her to take specific actions regarding his cases, provide information to him, and schedule a telephone call to discuss his cases. The client wrote to the SPD requesting communication and information from Gill, including copies of file materials. SPD staff forwarded the client’s letters to Gill, but she did not respond to any of the letters.
Between Sept. 29, 2020, and Sept. 27, 2021, Gill attended at least six hearings or calendar calls in the client’s cases. The client was not produced for any of the court dates. Gill did not communicate with the client to explain the status of his cases.
In January 2021, an assistant district attorney (ADA) emailed Gill a plea offer. The ADA told Gill that it was the best offer the state would make to resolve the client’s cases. Gill never communicated the plea offer to the client.
During a hearing in June 2021, Gill told the court that she would make “another appointment” to speak with the client, although Gill had made no previous appointments.
By failing to communicate with the client after Feb. 10, 2020, Gill violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(2) and (3).
By failing to respond to the client’s letters requesting information and documents, Gill violated SCR 20:1.4(a)(4).
By failing to communicate the plea offer and the state’s comments about the offer to the client, Gill violated SCR 20:1.2(a) and SCR 20:1.4(b).
By failing to take reasonable steps to advance the client’s interests, Gill violated SCR 20:1.3.
By failing to send the client notice that she intended to file a motion to withdraw or a copy of the motion and by failing to provide the client with a copy of his file materials, in each instance Gill violated SCR 20:1.16(d).
By telling the court on June 25, 2021, that she would call the client’s correctional institution and make “another appointment” to speak to the client and by advising the court in her motion to withdraw that the client had asked her to withdraw, in each instance Gill violated SCR 20:3.3(a)(1).
In 2016, Gill was privately reprimanded for violating SCR 20:8.4(b).
Disciplinary Proceeding Against Walter W. Stern III
The OLR and Walter W. Stern III, Kenosha, agreed to the imposition of a public reprimand in accordance with SCR 22.09(1). A supreme court-appointed referee approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on Oct. 23, 2022, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3). Public Reprimand of Stern, 22 OLR 6.
In 2019, Stern filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on behalf of a client against the client’s former employer. Stern attached to the complaint an unsealed confidential agreement that, by its terms, was to remain confidential. Stern did not file a motion to seal the confidential agreement, and therefore the agreement was available for public review.
Approximately 12 days after Stern had filed the complaint, Stern and counsel for the employer filed a joint stipulation to seal the confidential agreement. The next day, the court entered the order sealing the confidential agreement. In the approximately two weeks that the confidential agreement remained unsealed, members of the public accessed the agreement.
Counsel for the employer filed a motion for sanctions against Stern for filing the unsealed confidential agreement as an exhibit to the complaint. The employer sought its attorney fees related to obtaining the order to seal the exhibit and related to preparing and filing the motion for sanctions.
The court entered an order finding that Stern’s conduct in filing the unsealed confidential agreement as an exhibit to the complaint was unjustifiable based on the unambiguous confidentiality clause and that it was done in bad faith. The judge ordered Stern to pay $2,256 in sanctions and $1,500 for the employer’s counsel’s attorney fees for preparing and filing the motion for sanctions. Stern timely paid $3,756 to the employer’s counsel.
By filing a confidential agreement as an unsealed exhibit to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Stern violated SCR 20:1.3.
Stern has prior discipline. Stern received private reprimands in 1988 for communicating about the subject of the representation with a party he knew to be represented by a lawyer without the consent of that lawyer; in 1993 for failing to pay a third-party lien from settlement proceeds after receiving notice of the lien; and in 2008 for committing criminal acts that reflected adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer. In 1992, Stern was publicly reprimanded. Public Reprimand of Stern, 1992-11. In 2013, the supreme court suspended Stern’s law license for two years. Disciplinary Proc. Against Stern, 2013 WI 46. In 2021, the supreme court suspended Stern’s license for 60 days. Disciplinary Proc. Against Stern, 2021 WI 84.