Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Multiple DUIs Violate Rules

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has held that multiple driving while intoxicated offenses violate the rules governing lawyer behavior. The court also affirmed findings of misconduct relating to the failure to supervise a non-lawyer employee.

The court noted that the offenses had taken place in the period of 2003 to 2005 and that the lawyer has since turned his life around in a positive way. Because of this factor, the court imposed the fourth public reprimand of the attorney:

Attorney Brandt was a victim and lost a large sum of money due to Larson's embezzlement.  He has accepted responsibility for his failure to supervise his employee.  He entered pleas to the drunk driving charges and served a significant jail sentence.  He incurred substantial fines.  He lost his driver's license and for a period of time was unable to obtain an occupational license.  He undertook remedial action in early 2005 to address his drinking problem and sought treatment.  He has informed the court that he has maintained complete sobriety since that time.  

 A significant amount of time has passed since the occurrence of the events that gave rise to this disciplinary proceeding.  The misconduct at issue in this case occurred between 2003 and 2005.  Since that time Attorney Brandt has taken positive steps to turn his life around and atone for his bad behavior.  Attorney Brandt's multiple OWI convictions are a serious failing.  In addition, he has been reprimanded on three prior occasions.  The question of whether to impose a fourth reprimand or a suspension is a very close call.  Based on the circumstances of this case, we conclude that a public reprimand, coupled with the conditions recommended by the referee, is an appropriate sanction for the two counts of misconduct alleged in the OLR's complaint.

(Mike Frisch)

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