Monday, November 7, 2011
An attorney who had abandoned his practice was suspended for nine months by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The attorney had not initially participated in the bar discipline proceedings, but eventually stipulated to misconduct.
The referee acknowledged that Attorney N...was receiving treatment for alcohol abuse and that his living situation was precarious. However, the referee noted that there are many resources available to attorneys who seek assistance with substance abuse or who wish to end a law practice. The referee observed that while the OLR cited over 15 separate disciplinary matters in support of the joint recommendation, the cases reflect a range of penalties, and many impose a six-month suspension. See, e.g., In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Berlin, 2008 WI 4, 306 Wis. 2d 288, 743 N.W.2d 683. The referee thus "leaves it to this court to determine the exact length of [Attorney] N...'s suspension." The referee did agree that restitution to J.S. is appropriate and further agreed that Attorney N... should pay the costs of the proceeding.
The court ordered restitution to a client. (Mike Frisch)