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Professional Responsibility — suspension

Wisconsin Supreme Court


Professional Responsibility — suspension

Where attorney Paul. W. Humphrey unreasonably failed to turn over a witness statement in a timely fashion, a 30-day suspension is appropriate.

“We agree with the referee’s implicit observation that the acrimonious relationship between opposing counsel was likely a contributing factor in Attorney Humphrey’s conduct. However, the law invests prosecutors with awesome discretionary powers, particularly over the nature of the charge and the decision whether to prosecute. See, e.g., 9 Christine M. Wiseman & Michael Tobin, Criminal Practice & Procedure § 6:1 (Wisconsin Practice Series, 2d ed. 2011). A prosecutor is not a mere advocate for a particular side in a case. Id. The prosecutor thus serves as ‘the trustee of the public’s law enforcement conscience.’ Thompson v. State, 61 Wis. 2d 325, 332, 212 N.W.2d 109 (1973). Thus, prosecutors must be ever mindful that they wield significant authority and must carefully guard against the temptation to let personal considerations interfere with their obligation to seek justice.”

“We consider Attorney Humphrey’s ethical violations sufficiently serious to warrant a suspension of his license to practice law. The question, then, is the appropriate length of that suspension. Typically, this court has adhered to a policy of imposing a minimum license suspension of 60 days. See In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Osicka, 2009 WI 38, ¶38, 317 Wis. 2d 135, 765 N.W.2d 775; In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Grady, 188 Wis. 2d 98, 108-09, 523 N.W.2d 564 (1994).”

“We have concluded that we will deviate from our usual policy of requiring a minimum suspension of 60 days, and we hereby impose a 30-day suspension on Attorney Humphrey’s license to practice law in Wisconsin. As we stated in the Sommers case, 2012 WI 33 (No. 2006AP2851-D), this is an unusual case that calls for an unusual result.”

2006AP2842-D OLR v. Humphrey

Per Curiam.

Attorneys: For Appellant: Pines, Lester A., Madison; Humphrey, Paul W., Madison; For Respondent: Weigel, William J., Madison; Bedker, William F., Madison

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