Friday, November 30, 2012

Strategy Disagreement, Other Lapses, Results In Reprimand

The Wisconsin Supreme Court imposed a public reprimand of an attorney for misconduct in the course of representing a client after a conviction on bail-jumping charges.

Among other things, the attorney violated the duty of confidentiality and failed to adhere to the client's chosen course of action.

The court rejected the suggestion that the misconduct was not established by the chosen strategy eventually failed:

Attorney G....argues that his representation of F.B. was proven to be competent by virtue of the fact that a different lawyer, an assistant state public defender, eventually filed a motion making the ineffective assistance claim that D.B. had wanted Attorney G. to pursue, and the circuit court denied this motion. 

We reject this argument.  Simply because F.B.'s preferred litigation strategy did not succeed does not mean that Attorney G. acted with the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary to provide competent representation.  By rendering legal advice without speaking to his client, reading trial transcripts or reviewing key evidence, Attorney G. failed to provide competent representation.

Attorney G. next attempts to persuade us that F.B. was to blame for the lack of lawyer-client communication, and that additional such communication was unnecessary given his familiarity with F.B.'s case. 

We reject this argument.  Attorney G.'s argument does not alter the established facts that: (1) Attorney G. never consulted with F.B. before filing the sentence modification motion, and (2) Attorney G. never sought to withdraw the motion after learning of F.B.'s disapproval of the motion.  By any measure, these are troublesome failures in lawyer-client communication.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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