Friday, March 22, 2013

Court Rejects Charges Relating To Reimbursement Of ABA Expenses

The Wisconsin Supreme Court approved the dismissal of ethics charges that had alleged that an attorney was dishonest in seeking reimbursement for expenses from the American Bar Association:

Attorney P. was a longstanding active member of the ABA, serving on numerous committees and holding numerous office positions.  He was a member of the House of Delegates, was past-Chair of the Family Law Section, was Chair of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section, and also served as budget officer of the Senior Lawyers Division.  Attorney P. frequently attended ABA section meetings and ABA House of Delegates meetings and often submitted requests for financial reimbursement to different ABA sections.

The OLR's complaint alleged that Attorney P. personally submitted three claims for expense reimbursement following the 2010 ABA midyear meeting in Orlando, Florida, that included separate requests for reimbursement of the same expenses.  In total, Attorney P. sought reimbursement of $2,371.50 from the ABA.

Attorney P. then received a letter from the ABA advising him he had sent "compound" (duplicate) reimbursement requests.  The ABA then conducted an audit of Attorney P.'s ABA reimbursement requests for the years 2007, 2008, and 2009, which revealed that Attorney P. had submitted duplicate requests for expense reimbursement to various ABA entities for those years.  The total overpayment by the ABA to Attorney P. for these years was $1,155.80.

The court noted that the ABA's reimbursement policies were confusing, that the attorney had a reputation for honesty, no prior discipline and that he made restitution when the matter was brought to his attention.

The matter was pursued by a Tennessee attorney after the issues were resolved to the ABA's satisfaction.

The referee found:

[W]atching [Tennessee attorney] B. testify and considering the number of people within the ABA who now were aware of this matter; considering B.'s rush to judgment that P. was guilty of dishonesty from the very outset; considering B.'s obsession that P. should self-report this to OLR despite advice from others; considering that phone conversations with his so-called "friend" were silently being listened to by a notekeeper or ABA staff; this referee is reminded of the old adage that with friends like this, who needs enemies.

The OLR had not appealed the dismissal recommendation. (MIke Frisch)

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