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Appleton attorney suspended for 5 months

An Appleton attorney who has been the subject of prior disciplinary proceedings has been suspended from practicing law for five months, effective Jan. 23.

Wisconsin justices disagreed on how to handle John Miller Carroll’s latest case, which involved seven proven counts of misconduct, according to court records. Carroll was privately reprimanded in 1992 and 1997, publicly reprimanded in 1999, suspended for one year in 2002, and publicly reprimanded again for misconduct during his suspension, Thursday’s opinion stated.

The latest suspension stems from an Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint filed Aug. 9, 2011. The OLR alleged 10 counts of misconduct arising from Carroll’s handling of two client matters. After a three-day hearing in front of an OLR referee, however, the referee said the OLR failed to meet the burden of proof for three of the 10 misconduct allegations.

The referee recommended a five-month suspension for the remaining seven allegations, a ruling the majority of the court agreed to. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley dissented, however, stating they felt a six-month suspension was more appropriate given Carroll’s previous disciplinary history.

Carroll said Thursday that he and his attorney opted not to appeal to avoid a potential six-month suspension, which involves petitioning for reinstatement.

Because the referee found three of the OLR’s 10 allegations were not supported, Carroll had asked the court to reduce the cost of the proceedings against him. But despite his request to reduce the costs by 50 percent, the court ruled Thursday that he owes the full amount of $27,438.26.

“They didn’t give me credit for fighting it,” he said.

Carroll did acknowledge that he “technically violated the rules” by failing to obtain a written waiver regarding a potential conflict of interest on appeal.

“If they want to get you,” he said, “they can.”

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