An Eau Claire criminal defense attorney is facing a possible suspension after not responding to a State Bar request to resolve a fee dispute between himself and a client, according to a disciplinary complaint filed Monday.
Michael Rajek was hired by Miriam Jakobitz after she was charged with first-offense operating a vehicle with a controlled substance, according to the Office of Lawyer Regulation’s complaint. She paid Rejak $2,500 when she hired him.
Jakobitz, 41, was found guilty by a jury, and Rejak subsequently withdrew as counsel. He billed her $8,250, though Jakobitz disputed the bill, stating that she had already paid him for services, the complaint states. Rajek then sent Jakobitz a letter stating that the dispute needed to be arbitrated, and that he had set up an appointment with an alternative dispute resolution specialist.
Jakobitz objected to this and reached out to the bar’s fee arbitration program. When bar staff reached out to Rejak, he never responded, according to the complaint.
The OLR is asking the Supreme Court to suspend Rajek’s law license for 60 days.
Rajek graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1974 and was licensed to practice in Wisconsin the same year. He did not immediately return a phone call Thursday.
In addition to the fee dispute, Rajek also laid out fee agreements with Jakobitz and another client that stated he would not hold an advance fee in a trust account. However, the form he had them sign did not list all of the required criteria for putting the money in a firm’s general business account, according to the complaint.
He also failed to respond to an OLR investigation request in a timely manner, according to the complaint.
This is not Rajek’s first disciplinary case. He was privately reprimanded in 1986 for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
He was also publicly reprimanded in 2006 after being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Wisconsin for illegal structuring of cash transactions. No charges were ever filed, though, as Rajek agreed to report the case to the OLR and to stop practicing law for at least two months, the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s opinion states.
Another disciplinary case filed in 2011 against Rajek is awaiting a decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.Follow @eheisigWLJ