Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Consecutive Suspension

An attorney admitted in 1965 had racked up a series of reprimands and short suspensions over the years was suspended for one year (consecutive to an ongoing suspension) for client-related misconduct and income tax violations. The court had called for further briefing after receiving a stipulated proposed disposition but ultimately adopted the sanction:

Attorney Woods has an extensive disciplinary history. Attorney Woods' misconduct in this matter seriously compromised the legal rights of his client, D.B. Upon review of the stipulation, this court questioned whether the proposed one-year suspension was inadequate under the circumstances, particularly given Attorney Woods' extensive disciplinary history. Accordingly, this court issued an order directing the parties to justify the recommendation for discipline contained in the parties' stipulation.

Both parties filed written responses. The OLR provided this court with a 14-page detailed memorandum which analyzed some 11 disciplinary cases involving neglect of client matters. The OLR advised the court that typically, the misconduct alleged in this complaint would warrant a suspension in the range of 60 to 90 days. The OLR also analyzed nine disciplinary cases involving failure to file income tax returns or pay income tax liabilities. Absent his extensive disciplinary history, Attorney Woods' misconduct in this matter would likely warrant a suspension of his license to practice law in

Wisconsin

for a period of 90 days to six months. Here, however, the OLR was mindful that Attorney Woods' previous disciplinary history is a significant aggravating factor justifying a more lengthy suspension.

Upon review of the OLR's statement in support of the stipulation, this court is persuaded that a one-year suspension of Attorney Woods' license to practice law in Wisconsin——imposed consecutive to his current suspension——is adequate discipline for the misconduct committed in this matter. 

(Mike Frisch)

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