Friday, May 9, 2014

Wisconsin First: Conditional Reinstatement

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has reinstated to conditionally admitted status an attorney who had been conditionally admitted and violated the terms.

This is the first time we have considered a petition for reinstatement filed by a lawyer who was suspended for failure to comply with terms of the lawyer's conditional admission.  In 2011, the court, at the behest of the BBE, adopted SCR 40.075, authorizing conditional admission.  See S. Ct. Order 08-13, 2011 WI 40 (issued June 8, 2011, eff. June 8, 2011).  This rule affords certain bar applicants who might otherwise have been denied admission to the bar because of character and fitness concerns the opportunity to practice law subject to various oversight mechanisms designed to protect the public.  B.R.C. was one of the early beneficiaries of this new rule.

B.R.C. graduated from a Wisconsin law school in the spring of 2011, and sought bar admission.  Aspects of his bar application, including a 2009 conviction for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, raised character and fitness concerns pertaining to his alcohol use.  Following an evaluation, the BBE offered B.R.C. conditional admission.  The terms of his conditional admission were set forth in a Consent Agreement For Conditional Admission (Consent Agreement).  The Consent Agreement provided in relevant part that B.R.C. would be conditionally admitted for a period of two years during which he was required to abstain from alcohol use and to submit to monitoring by WisLAP to ensure his compliance with the conditions on his law practice.  Pursuant to the Consent Agreement, B.R.C. agreed, among other things, "[t]o submit to random urinalysis testing for alcohol or other drugs as determined appropriate by the Coordinator."

On December 27, 2011, B.R.C. accepted the offer of conditional admission and signed the Consent Agreement.  He was sworn in on January 18, 2012, and began practicing law.

Problems arose fairly quickly

On March 1, 2012, B.R.C. met with WisLAP manager Linda Albert who informed him that he also needed to execute a separate "monitoring contract" with WisLAP.  The WisLAP Monitoring Contract contained some terms not mentioned in the Consent Agreement. B.R.C. also learned that he could be required to submit to hair follicle testing, fingernail testing, and blood testing, which are more expensive than the urine testing he had known would be required.  B.R.C. refused to sign the monitoring contract asserting that he should have been made aware of the WisLAP requirements before he executed the Consent Agreement.  The BBE was advised of B.R.C.'s refusal to sign the monitoring contract on March 12, 2012.

On May 11, 2012, the BBE voted to rescind B.R.C.'s conditional admission for his continued refusal to sign a monitoring contract and concomitant failure to submit to monitoring.  The BBE requested this court issue an order to show cause as to why B.R.C.'s license should not be suspended.  The order issued and, on June 27, 2012, B.R.C. filed a response explaining his reasons for declining to sign the WisLAP Monitoring Contract and asking the court to reconsider its order to show cause.

The conditional license was then suspended by the court. Here, the attorney was conditionally reinstated on conditions propsed by a referee

We agree that B.R.C. must complete the full two years of monitoring as his conditional admission originally required, with a monitor located in the Milwaukee area, if possible.  At this time, there is insufficient cause to warrant extending the conditions imposed on B.R.C. past July 2, 2014.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink

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