Vol. 78, No. 12 December
of Lawyer Regulation (formerly known as the Board of Attorneys
Professional Responsibility), an agency of the Wisconsin Supreme Court
and component of the lawyer regulation system, assists the court in
carrying out its constitutional responsibility to supervise the practice
of law and protect the public from misconduct by persons practicing law
in Wisconsin. The Office of Lawyer Regulation has offices located at
Suite 315, 110 E. Main St., Madison, WI 53703, and Suite 300, 342 N.
Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202. Toll-free telephone: (877) 315-6941.
Disciplinary proceedings against
Jeffry P. Van Groll
On Oct. 19, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a disciplinary
order suspending the law license of Jeffry P. Van Groll, Milwaukee, for
one year, commencing Nov. 18, 2005. Disciplinary Proceedings Against
Van Groll, 2005 WI 140. On Nov. 8, 2005, Van Groll, unfortunately,
passed away. The court had additionally ordered Van Groll to pay
restitution to two clients; Van Groll had made full restitution before
Van Groll was licensed to practice law in Wisconsin in 1986. In 1997,
he was privately reprimanded for lack of diligence and failure to
In the current matter, Van Groll was retained by S.K., whose mother
gave Van Groll $15,000 in cash. Van Groll did not deposit the funds in
his client trust account, but instead claimed he put the cash in his
office safe. After S.K. terminated Van Groll's services, S.K. requested
an accounting of the $15,000 and a return of any unused amounts. Van
Groll initially did not respond to S.K.'s repeated requests but
eventually sent a letter to S.K. with $6,500 enclosed but without an
During the course of the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR)
proceeding, Van Groll admitted that he still retained $1,736.48 of
S.K.'s funds. During the investigation, Van Groll failed to cooperate
and made misrepresentations to the OLR regarding the handling of S.K.'s
funds. The referee found and the court agreed that Van Groll violated
former SCR 20:1.15(a) and (b), SCR 20:1.16(d), SCR 20:8.4(c), and SCR
The OLR, concerned about Van Groll's handling of client funds,
conducted an audit of his trust account. The OLR audit demonstrated that
Van Groll had disbursed funds on behalf of persons who had no funds on
deposit, deposited funds on behalf of persons and failed to account for
subsequent disbursements, improperly kept personal funds in his trust
account, and signed State Bar of Wisconsin certifications that he kept
required records when he had not. With the exception of S.K. and another
client, there did not appear to be any other client who lost money.
Although the referee concluded that Van Groll had not purposely deprived
any client of money for his own benefit through fraud, the referee
concluded that Van Groll violated former SCR 20:1.15(a), (e), and (g),
and SCR 20:8.4(c).
Finally, Van Groll failed to file tax returns for the calendar years
1996 to 1999 and 2002 and filed untimely returns (without seeking
extensions) for the calendar years 2000 and 2001. By willfully failing
to file income tax returns on a timely basis, Van Groll violated SCR
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proceedings against Jolie M. Semancik
In an Oct. 14, 2005 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended
the law license of Jolie M. Semancik, Greenfield, for six months,
effective Oct. 14, 2005. The court also ordered Semancik to satisfy a
small claims judgment against her in the amount of $1,855.92, plus
postjudgment interest, and ordered Semancik to pay the $3,613.14 costs
of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary Proceedings Against
Semancik, 2005 WI 139.
Semancik had retained a private investigator to assist her in
numerous State Public Defender (SPD) appointment cases. The SPD paid
Semancik in full for her fees and for all of the expenses she incurred,
including the investigative expenses. Semancik, however, failed to pay
the private investigator, who ultimately obtained a small claims
judgment against Semancik.
Semancik's misconduct consisted of failing to deposit into her trust
account four checks from the SPD that contained funds belonging to the
private investigator, such that she failed to separately hold in trust
property of a third person that was in her possession in connection with
a representation, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(a); failing to
promptly notify the private investigator in writing of her receipt of
the funds and failing to promptly deliver funds to which the private
investigator was entitled, in violation of former SCR 20:1.15(b); and
converting to her own use those portions of the SPD funds she received
as payment for the private investigator's work, thereby engaging in
conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in
violation of SCR 20:8.4(c).
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proceeding against Gerald Proost
On Oct. 19, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted a petition for
consensual license revocation filed by Gerald Proost pursuant to SCR
22.19. Proost's petition acknowledged he could not successfully defend
against 18 counts of misconduct relating to five separate matters. The
revocation is effective immediately. Disciplinary Proceedings
Against Proost, 2005 WI 144.
In the first matter, Proost discussed with a longtime, elderly client
a plan whereby Proost would invest the client's savings so that the
funds would earn 7 percent interest. Proost then took the client to her
bank and had her sign various documents. The client could not read the
documents because she did not have her glasses with her. The client
believed that no money would be removed from her savings account and she
would begin receiving monthly checks in the amount of $100. The client
later learned that she had signed over to Proost a cashier's check in
the amount of $4,500. Proost executed a promissory note and eventually
repaid the client all monies owed. In addition, Proost drafted a will
for the client wherein Proost's brother was named trustee and personal
representative of the client's estate. The OLR was investigating
possible violations of SCR 20:1.8(a) and (c) and SCR 20:8.4(c) with
regard to this matter.
In the second matter, Proost borrowed $15,000 from a client. The loan
was to be repaid, with interest, within one year. When the client died
11 years later, the bulk of the loan still was not repaid. During
subsequent litigation initiated by the client's heirs, Proost sent a
check representing a partial payment of the outstanding debt. The check
bounced. Proost eventually sent a cashier's check to cover the bounced
check. Judgment was subsequently entered against Proost for the
remaining balance on the debt. That judgment has not been satisfied. As
part of its order, the court ordered Proost to satisfy the judgment. The
OLR was investigating possible violations of SCR 20:1.8(a) and SCR
20:8.4(c) with regard to this matter.
In the third matter, Proost obtained three loans, totaling $82,000,
from a client. The loans, with interest, were to be repaid by January
1998. However, as of September 2004, Proost still owed $55,500, plus
interest. As part of its order, the court ordered Proost to pay the
outstanding balance on the loans. The OLR was investigating possible
violations of SCR 20:1.8(a) and SCR 20:8.4(c) with regard to this
In the fourth matter, Proost represented a woman in the sale of her
home. At the time of the sale, the woman was suffering from dementia and
living in a nursing home. The client turned over the proceeds from the
sale, approximately $150,000, to Proost to invest. Shortly after the
sale, the client's daughter was named her guardian. The daughter
requested an accounting of the funds but Proost failed to provide one.
The daughter then made a demand for the proceeds, plus any interest
earned. Despite indicating he would do so, Proost failed to turn over
the proceeds. In addition, Proost obtained a $35,000 loan from the
client. The loan was to be paid in June 1999 but remains unpaid. As part
of its order, the court ordered Proost to satisfy judgments entered
against him in civil proceedings as a result of his failure to turn over
the sale proceeds and his failure to repay the loan. The OLR was
investigating possible violations of SCR 20:1.7(b), SCR 20:1.8(a), SCR
20:1.15(d)(2), and SCR 20:8.4(c) with regard to this matter.
In the fifth matter, Proost facilitated a transaction between two
clients whereby one client tendered $100,000 to the other client in
reliance on a mortgage and note drafted by Proost. Although the second
client failed to comply with the terms of the mortgage and note, Proost
drafted a satisfaction of mortgage and then authenticated a fraudulent
signature on the document. The OLR was investigating possible violations
of SCR 20:1.1, SCR 20:1.2(d), SCR 20:1.7(a) and (b), SCR 20:4.1(a) and
(b), and SCR 20:8.4(b) with regard to this matter.
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Disciplinary Proceedings against Gary
In an Oct. 25, 2005 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly
reprimanded Gary A. Miller, 62, Madison, and ordered him to pay the
$5,860.16 costs of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary
Proceedings Against Miller, 2005 WI 146.
Miller represented a man in a divorce case. The client's spouse was
injured in an automobile accident. An insurer issued a settlement check
in the amount of $24,000 payable to both Miller's client and the
client's spouse. By agreement of the parties to the divorce, the
settlement check was deposited to Miller's trust account pending the
outcome of the divorce. In the Feb. 6, 2001, divorce property settlement
order, the circuit court awarded $7,329 of the accident settlement
proceeds to the spouse. On March 30, 2001, Miller disbursed from his
trust account the entire $7,329 of the remaining accident settlement
proceeds, $4,929 to his client and $2,400 to Miller himself as attorney
Miller's misconduct consisted of failing to disburse to the client's
spouse the $7,329 that was being held in his trust account pending the
outcome of the divorce proceeding, which funds the circuit court had
ordered to be granted to the spouse, in violation of former SCR
20:1.15(a); and failing to comply with the circuit court's order to
disburse to the client's spouse $7,329 of the accident settlement
proceeds held in Miller's trust account and, instead, disbursing such
funds to himself and his client, in violation of SCR 20:3.4(c).
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Consensual revocation of Lee C.
On Oct. 19, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court revoked the law license
of Lee Erlandson, 53, Madison, pursuant to Erlandson's petition for
consensual license revocation. Disciplinary Proceedings Against
Erlandson, 2005 WI 143. Erlandson's law license had been suspended
since 2001, when the court determined that Erlandson had a medical
incapacity as a result of his alcoholism and that he had failed to
comply with conditions placed on his license.
At the time of revocation, Erlandson was the subject of a
disciplinary action that alleged 10 counts of misconduct involving four
clients. Erlandson's petition indicated that he was unable to defend
against those allegations: that he had converted client funds, filed
fraudulent annual guardianship accounts, provided a false billing
statement, made false statements to the OLR, improperly terminated a
representation, and neglected a client matter. Erlandson's petition also
stated that he could not successfully defend against new allegations
under investigation regarding Erlandson's 2005 convictions involving
felony operating while intoxicated and felony bail jumping.
The State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection had
paid restitution to three of Erlandson's clients. The supreme court
ordered Erlandson to reimburse the Fund and to pay the $5080.90 costs of
the disciplinary proceeding.
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Disciplinary proceedings against Ralph
On Oct. 14, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law
license of Ralph A. Kalal, 57, Madison, for six months effective Nov. 1,
2005. The court's order was based on a referee-approved stipulation
between Kalal and the OLR. Disciplinary Proceedings Against
Kalal, 2005 WI 138.
Kalal was the owner of Kalal & Associates law firm, a sole
proprietorship. Kalal's wife worked as the law firm's office manager. In
1999, two of the firm's employees became eligible to participate in the
firm's 401(k) retirement plan. Six percent of those employees' earnings
was withheld from each paycheck for contribution to the plan, and the
firm was required to match 50 percent of those contributions. Kalal's
office manager failed to forward the employees' forms to the 410(k) plan
administrator and did not forward either the employees' or the firm's
contributions. The employees' W-2 tax forms nevertheless showed
contributions, and Kalal's tax returns deducted the full amount of the
employees' salaries although 6 percent of the salaries had not been
paid. An employee discovered the problem more than two years later when
she tried to transfer funds from another 401(k) plan to the Kalal &
Associates plan. When the plan administrator threatened to refer Kalal
to the plan's legal department, Kalal paid $26,448.75 into the plan,
thereby making both employees whole. The referee found, and the court
agreed, that Kalal's conduct involved dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or
misrepresentation, contrary to SCR 20:8.4(c), and that his failure to
ensure that his office manager's conduct was compatible with his own
professional obligations violated SCR 20:5.3(b).
During 1998 and 1999, Kalal & Associates also failed to timely
file four employment tax returns and pay the tax owed with those
returns, contrary to a standard of conduct set forth in State v.
Roggensack, 19 Wis. 2d 38, 199 N.W.2d 412 (1963), and therefore in
violation of SCR 20:8.4(f).
Finally, Kalal stipulated that his firm failed to keep all required
trust account records, including a monthly schedule of subsidiary
ledgers, and that his trust account contained $3,425.57 more than the
total indicated in all of the subsidiary client ledgers. Kalal
acknowledged that the trust account held funds for 97 clients after
their representations had concluded because his firm failed to timely
refund unearned costs and fees ranging in amounts from less than $1 to
more than $500. Such conduct was found to be in violation of former SCR
20:1.15(b) and 20:1.15(e) [pre-July 1, 2004 rules]. The court ordered
Kalal to seek direction from the OLR about resolving the issue of the
unidentified client funds and required Kalal to inform the court within
30 days as to how the remaining unidentified funds would be managed.
In addition to the six-month suspension, Kalal was ordered to pay the
$10,884.10 costs of the disciplinary proceeding.
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Disciplinary proceedings against Mark
On Oct. 25, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court imposed a public
reprimand and conditions on Mark Pierquet, Menasha. Disciplinary
Proceedings Against Pierquet, 2005 WI 147.
Pierquet and a colleague jointly represented R.G. in a personal
injury matter on a contingent fee basis. R.G. did not recall signing a
written agreement; Pierquet did not produce one.
Pierquet filed a complaint on R.G.'s behalf but failed to respond to
discovery. Opposing counsel moved for sanctions. The circuit court
limited R.G.'s witnesses, ordered R.G. to provide opposing counsel the
theory of liability, and imposed costs of $400 on R.G.
Thereafter, without consulting his client, Pierquet signed a
stipulation in which he agreed to dismissal of R.G.'s case with
prejudice. Based on the stipulation, the circuit court dismissed the
suit. Pierquet did not inform R.G. or his own colleague that he had
stipulated to dismissal.
The following month, Pierquet's colleague received notice of a trial
date. He informed Pierquet that he required more time. Pierquet told his
colleague that the court had removed the case from the calendar and
would reschedule it later. Pierquet knew this was false.
Shortly thereafter, R.G. called Pierquet to ask what to wear to
court. Pierquet did not inform R.G. that he had stipulated to dismissal
and instead told R.G. that the case was progressing smoothly toward
The next month, R.G. contacted Pierquet because he had learned that
his case had been dismissed. Pierquet falsely stated to R.G. that he had
not signed a stipulation dismissing the case.
At this point, Pierquet's colleague confirmed that a stipulation for
dismissal had been entered. He confronted Pierquet, who admitted signing
By failing to reduce his contingent fee agreement with R.G. to
writing, Pierquet violated SCR 20:1.5(c). By failing to properly
prosecute R.G.'s lawsuit, Pierquet violated SCR 20:1.1 (competence), and
SCR 20:1.3 (diligence). By stipulating to the dismissal of R.G.'s
lawsuit without consulting or informing his client, Pierquet violated
SCR 20:1.2(a) (scope of representation). By stating to R.G. that the
case was progressing, and by denying that he had signed a stipulation
for dismissal, Pierquet engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,
deceit, or misrepresentation in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c).
Finally, by failing to inform his cocounsel that he had dismissed the
case and by misleading cocounsel into believing the case was pending and
that the trial would be rescheduled, Pierquet engaged in conduct
involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in violation
of SCR 20:8.4(c).
The court imposed a public reprimand and conditions on Pierquet's law
practice, specifically, that Pierquet continue medical treatment and
provide full medical treatment records to the OLR for two years.
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Disciplinary proceedings against
Michael J. Backes
In a decision filed on Oct. 20, 2005, the Wisconsin Supreme Court
publicly reprimanded Michael J. Backes, Milwaukee, and ordered him to
pay the $2,163.10 costs of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplinary
Proceedings Against Backes, 2005 WI 141.
A client contacted Backes in April 2001 to seek postconviction relief
from a criminal conviction that had been affirmed on appeal. A third
party paid Backes $2,500 on the client's behalf by June. When the client
subsequently attempted to terminate him, Backes indicated in letters and
during a November 2001 prison visit that he would work on the case soon.
The client wrote to Backes in October 2002 to terminate him and to seek
a refund; however, neither Backes nor the client could locate the party
who paid Backes.
Before returning the client's file in November 2002, Backes informed
the client of his legal theory and represented that a petition for writ
of habeas corpus had been prepared for filing. The client instead filed
a pro se motion for postconviction relief with the Wisconsin Court of
Appeals in November 2002 and, after it was denied, filed a pro se motion
for reconsideration in December 2002. The client eventually reinstated
Backes and, in March 2003, asked him to file the petition. After Backes
failed to file the petition, the client terminated Backes again and
filed a pro se petition in July 2003.
To settle the refund dispute after Backes did not receive a response
to a formal opinion request to the State Bar Ethics Committee, the
client later proposed that Backes help him if the court of appeals
denied his pro se petition. Backes sent the client a compilation of case
law and transcript citations. In November 2003, after the court of
appeals denied the client's pro se petition, Backes told the client
there were no further grounds for appeal.
Backes violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to act with reasonable
diligence and promptness when he neither pursued postconviction relief
nor concluded his review of the client's file for more than 18 months.
During the disciplinary proceeding, Backes did not produce the petition
identified in November 2002 and admitted that no such document was ever
prepared. Backes violated SCR 20:8.4(c) by misrepresenting to the client
that a petition was prepared for filing.
Backes had previously received a public reprimand.
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Public reprimand of Ross R.
The OLR and Ross R. Kinney, 67, Dousman, entered into an agreement
for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A
referee appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court thereafter approved the
agreement and issued the public reprimand on Oct. 24, 2005, in
accordance with SCR 22.09(3).
A wife filed for divorce. The parties had substantial assets. The
wife also had concerns that the husband was abusing their oldest
daughter. Before retaining Kinney, the wife raised allegations of sexual
abuse, which were determined to be unfounded.
The wife retained Kinney and agreed to pay him $150 per hour.
Although this divorce was more complex than others Kinney had handled,
and despite his limited knowledge and experience in divorce law, he did
not consult with an experienced divorce attorney regarding the issues
involved in the case. Despite working on an hourly basis, Kinney did not
send a bill to the wife until more than a month after he withdrew from
Throughout Kinney's representation of the wife, he continued to
pursue the sexual abuse allegations, despite knowing that the daughter
denied that abuse had occurred, that the Department of Human Services
found no substantiation, and that no witness or expert substantiated the
allegations. Kinney also pursued disqualification of a psychologist
despite the fact that the wife had stipulated to the psychologist's
appointment and without any evidence or legal authority to justify
The wife terminated Kinney's services and retained another attorney,
who requested the wife's file. Kinney refused the request, arguing that
he had not been paid. The second attorney filed a motion with the court
to compel release of the files. In response Kinney asserted a retaining
lien on the ground that the wife had not paid him, despite the fact that
he had neither billed the wife nor prepared a billing statement. The
court found that the files belonged to the wife and ordered Kinney to
produce them. Kinney continued to withhold the files and asserted a
retaining lien and charging lien without any basis in fact or law. The
court required Kinney to transfer the file and disallowed the liens.
Eventually, the parties signed a settlement agreement. In that
agreement, the wife agreed to make a contribution to her husband's
attorney fees in the amount of $20,000 because of Kinney's over-trial
and frivolous prosecution.
In a separate matter, Kinney represented a client in a divorce case.
The matter was resolved in the fall of 2000. On Jan. 5, 2001, Kinney
drafted a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) to obtain pension
benefits for the client. On March 1, 2001, the plan administrator wrote
to Kinney indicating that the QDRO did not qualify and explaining what
changes needed to be made. As of February 2005, Kinney had not completed
an appropriate QDRO.
In the first matter, by agreeing to represent a client in a
complicated divorce despite his limited knowledge and experience in
divorce law, and by pursuing allegations of sexual abuse and the liens,
Kinney violated SCR 20:1.1. By pursuing sexual abuse allegations, Kinney
violated SCR 20:3.1(a)(1). By failing to promptly deliver a client's
file to successor counsel, Kinney violated SCR 20:1.16(d). By asserting
the retaining and charging liens, Kinney violated SCR 20:3.1(a)(1).
In the second matter, by failing to file a proper QDRO for a client
for more than four years, Kinney violated SCR 20:1.3.
As a condition of the public reprimand, Kinney agreed to not withdraw
his petition to voluntarily surrender his license.
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Public reprimand of Jevon Jones
The OLR and Jevon Jones Jaconi, 32, Luxemburg, entered into an
agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR
22.09(1). A referee appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court thereafter
approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on Oct. 13, 2005,
in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).
The grievants retained Jaconi to represent their son in a criminal
traffic case. The son had pleaded guilty and desired to withdraw the
plea. The grievants paid $5,000 for what they understood to be a flat
fee. There was no written fee agreement.
During the course of the OLR investigation, Jaconi provided varying
descriptions of the basis and amounts of the fee. The grievants reported
that each time Jaconi asked for more money, he needed it to "keep going"
on the case, and that when they initially retained him, they were not
told about additional payments. The grievants nevertheless paid the
In addition to fee payments, Jaconi borrowed money from the
grievants. The grievants acknowledged that the loans were not a
condition of Jaconi's continued representation of their son, but said
that they believed that Jaconi would not be able to work effectively for
their son if he did not have the money.
Jaconi filed a motion to withdraw the son's guilty plea. The court
denied the motion. Jaconi paid the grievants $500 toward his loan but
has not made any further loan payments.
After conducting a formal investigation pursuant to SCR 22.03 and
22.04, the OLR director found that Jaconi violated SCR 20:1.5(b), which
states, "When the lawyer has not regularly represented the client, the
basis or rate of the fee shall be communicated to the client, preferably
in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the
In 2003, Jaconi received a one-year suspension for misconduct in
seven separate client matters.
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Public reprimand of Scott F.
The OLR and Scott F. Anderson, 51, Milwaukee, entered into an
agreement for imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR
22.09(1). A referee appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court thereafter
approved the agreement and issued the public reprimand on Sept. 30,
2005, in accordance with SCR 22.09(3).
In January 2004, a man hired Anderson to represent him in a pending
criminal matter. In February 2004, Anderson appeared late for the
client's arraignment, resulting in the case being called three times
without Anderson being present. In March 2004, Anderson appeared for the
pretrial conference. However, he failed to timely advise his client that
he had appeared for the pretrial conference, failed to adequately
explain to the client the language on the client's bail slip about the
client's need to appear at the pretrial conference or at a later show
cause hearing, and failed to respond to the client's telephone calls
about whether the client was required to appear at the show cause
hearing if he had not personally attended the pretrial conference.
Therefore, the client unnecessarily traveled from out of state to appear
for a show cause hearing that he was not required to attend. After the
client unnecessarily appeared for the show cause hearing, he began
efforts to terminate Anderson's representation. Anderson failed to
respond to the client's numerous telephone messages between March and
June 2004 in which the client was attempting to terminate Anderson's
representation, and he failed to accept a certified letter from the
client that the U.S. Postal Service attempted to deliver to his office.
The client was not successful in causing Anderson to file a motion to
withdraw from the case until August 2004.
During the representation, Anderson failed to respond to the client's
numerous telephone messages and failed to adequately explain to the
client the status of the case. Finally, Anderson failed to adequately
explain the rate or basis of his fee to the client.
Anderson violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to appear at the June 2004
hearing in the client's criminal matter and by appearing late at the
February 2004 hearing in the client's criminal matter. Anderson violated
SCR 20:1.4(a) by failing to timely apprise the client that it was
unnecessary for him to appear at the March 2004 show cause hearing
because Anderson had appeared at the pretrial conference, by failing to
respond to numerous client inquiries between March 2004 and June 2004,
and by failing to inform the client of the circumstances affecting
Anderson's ability to appear on the client's behalf at the June 2004
hearing. Anderson violated SCR 20:1.5(b) by failing to apprise the
client as to the manner in which his fee would be calculated. Anderson
violated SCR 20:1.16(a)(3) by failing to timely file a motion to
withdraw as counsel for the client between March 2004 and June 2004,
following the client's telephone messages in which he advised Anderson
that he wished to terminate Anderson's representation.
Anderson has prior discipline. In 1999 he received a private
reprimand for violations of SCR 20:1.3 and 20:1.4(a), which occurred
during his representation of a client on a civil rights claim. In 2004,
Anderson was publicly reprimanded for misconduct in three separate
client matters, involving violations of SCR 20:1.3, 20:1.4(a),
20:1.4(b), and 20:3.4(c).
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Public reprimand of Gary
The OLR and Gary Roets, 63, Portage, entered into an agreement for
imposition of a public reprimand, pursuant to SCR 22.09(1). A referee
appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court thereafter approved the
agreement and issued the public reprimand on Oct. 5, 2005, in accordance
with SCR 22.09(3).
In August 1999, a woman was named as personal representative of an
estate. She hired Roets to represent her in the probate of the estate,
which was valued at less than $11,000. While a petition for summary
assignment was timely filed in October 1999, the estate remained open as
of 2003, when the circuit court issued an order to show cause why the
estate had not been closed within 18 months of the filing of the
petition for summary assignment. Despite several attempts made by the
client to speak with Roets about the order to show cause before the
scheduled hearing, Roets neither contacted the client to discuss the
order to show cause nor did he appear at the hearing. Because Roets
failed to appear at the hearing, the court appointed the client as
special administrator for the estate and ordered her to retrieve all of
the estate's records and files from Roets and to secure the services of
another attorney to assist her with closing the estate. The client and
successor counsel had difficulty obtaining the estate's file from
Additionally, during the representation, the client left numerous
telephone messages for Roets to which he did not respond. The client
visited Roets' office several times to obtain his assistance in
completing the estate, and each time she found his office locked.
Finally, Roets failed to cooperate with the OLR's investigation of
this matter until after receiving a supreme court order to show cause as
to why his law license should not be suspended for willful
noncooperation with the grievance investigation. Thereafter, Roets
failed to respond to requests for information during the district
committee's investigation of this matter.
Roets violated SCR 20:1.3 by failing to act with reasonable diligence
and promptness in his representation of the client to advance the
estate's interests and by failing to properly calendar and appear for
the hearing on the order to show cause. Roets violated SCR 20:1.4(a) by
failing to respond to the client's reasonable inquiries and by failing
to keep her reasonably informed about the estate's status. Roets
violated SCR 22.03(2) by failing to timely file an initial written
response to the grievance with the OLR in its investigation. Roets
violated SCR 22.04(1) by failing to cooperate with the district
committee in its investigation.
Roets had no prior discipline.
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