December 4, 2012
Lawyer Reprimanded, Had Trouble Finding Imprisoned Client
The Wisconsin Supreme Court imposed a public reprimand and terminated an interim suspension for failure to cooperate in a case where a young attorney failed to properly handle a post-conviction matter.
The attorney's initial response to the client's complaint:
The letter said, "[K.W.] is certainly entitled to his frustration; I can only apologize for my inattentiveness. . . . I will not repeat my mistakes." Attorney R....claimed he had never received the letters K.W. had sent him because his offices had moved. The letter went on to say, "I'm a rather inexperienced attorney, so I wasn't sure how to find you in the prison system." Attorney R. said he was waiting for transcripts from K.W.'s case. The letter concluded by saying, "I'm sorry things got so messed up——I'll bend my efforts toward assessing your appeal with all possible speed."
On December 4, 2008, Attorney Lund [of the State Public Defender] wrote to Attorney R. documenting his unsuccessful efforts to get a response from Attorney Read. Attorney Lund said, "Your unwillingness to respond to me and, apparently, to your client is simply unacceptable." Attorney Lund provided K.W.'s new address at Columbia Correctional Institution and asked that Attorney R. contact both K.W. and Attorney Lund immediately.
After this response, the attorney was offered diversion, but the problems continued:
K.W. wrote to Attorney Lund complaining that Attorney R. was not keeping him apprised of the status of his appeal and was not contacting him at all. On June 11, 2009, Attorney R. wrote to K.W. saying that he had driven to Portage to meet with K.W. on June 6 but that he had been turned away because the Department of Corrections (DOC) or the institution has a regulation that people with obvious flu or cold symptoms may not visit. Attorney R. said he was no longer sick and promised to return every Saturday until he was able to meet with K.W.
An interim suspension was imposed when the attorney failed to respond to the renewed complaint, which had been held in abeyance due to the diversion agreement. (Mike Frisch)
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