June 18, 2009
Depression Does Not Explain Dishonesty
An attorney who had violated ethics rules as alleged in 28 counts was suspended for nine months by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The suspension will be extended if the lawyer fails to submit an evaluation of mental health issues. The attorney had claimed that the misconduct was a product of his depression, which the referee addressed as follows:
In his report, the referee acknowledged that there was no independent corroboration for Attorney Hansen's claim that he has suffered from depression since 1994. Attorney Hansen did file a letter from a nurse that states that he has had a "major depressive disorder" for the past "several years."
Moreover, the referee stated that he failed to "see how [Attorney Hansen]'s disorder can explain Attorney Hansen's attempts to deceive not only his clients but also the Court of Appeals and the Office of Lawyer Regulation. Nor can I see how this disorder would prevent Attorney Hansen from returning fees which he agrees were unearned and which he promised to return."
The referee then recommended a six-month suspension of Attorney Hansen's license describing his depression as "a partial mitigating factor."
The court viewed the six-month suspension as insufficient. (Mike Frisch)
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