April 27, 2011
No Brief, No Appeal
The Wisconsin Supreme Court held that an attorney in a bar discipline matter had failed to perfect an appeal and dismissed his exceptions:
We conclude that Attorney...'s conduct in this court warrants the dismissal of his appeal in this matter. He was given three separate deadlines to file his brief, and he ignored each of them. Although neither of his extension motions was filed prior to the expiration of the then-existing deadline, this court granted him extensions of time to file his brief. In both of those extension orders, Attorney...was given a specific deadline and was told that no further extensions would be given. Indeed, in his second extension motion Attorney...stated that he simply needed all of the time he had originally requested so that he could file his brief. Although he was ultimately granted the full extension that he sought, he never filed any brief, leading to the inference that the extension requests were mere ploys for delay. We conclude that his repeated disobedience of this court's briefing orders constitutes egregious conduct that warrants the dismissal of his appeal.
Alternatively, his unexplained failure to file any brief after repeatedly asking for and being granted more time to do so constitutes an abandonment of his appeal. Moreover, although the dismissal of an appeal is rightly considered a drastic remedy, we note that the impact of a dismissal in an attorney disciplinary proceeding is much less than in an ordinary civil appeal. While a dismissal in an ordinary appeal terminates the case and leaves the judgment against the appellant intact, in attorney disciplinary cases this court still reviews the referee's report, although we do it as if no appeal had been timely filed under SCR 22.17(2). We still review the referee's report and recommendation because it is this court that ultimately determines whether an attorney has committed professional misconduct and, if so, what the appropriate discipline should be.
The court majority imposed a five-month suspension. Two justices would add a month, which would require the attorney to petition for reinstatement. (Mike Frisch)
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