A La Crosse man licensed to practice law in Wisconsin, who was convicted of repeatedly harassing an ex-girlfriend, has been suspended from practicing for 90 days and ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation.
Randy Netzer was convicted in April 2011 of two counts of violating a harassment injunction after taking out two ads in the La Crosse Tribune newspaper that were intended for his ex, according to a state Supreme Court opinion released Wednesday. The ads apologized for any strife that may have caused their breakup and also said that he “may no longer be in your heart, but you will always be forever the only one in mine,” according to the opinion.
Netzer also was arrested and charged for stalking the same woman on other occasions. The charges were dropped but read in when he was sentenced on the harassment charges.
When the Office of Lawyer Regulation filed its complaint, Netzer – who was privately reprimanded in 2006 after being convicted of misdemeanor stalking and violating a harassment injunction on – did not dispute the facts to a referee, the opinion states. However, he did when appealing the case to the full state Supreme Court.
But the justices rejected Netzer’s arguments and noted that his current case is “strikingly similar” to the previous one. In addition to the suspension and order for evaluation, the justices also told Netzer to pay $9,222.21 to pay for the cost of the OLR proceedings.
“As in the previous case, Attorney Netzer tries to minimize his conduct,” the majority opinion stated, “claiming he never intended his actions to cause [his ex] any distress, and that in fact all he cared about was [his ex’s] happiness and well-being.”
Netzer – who is an active member of the bar despite claiming that he has not practiced law to make a living since 1987 – could not immediately be reached for comment. A message on his voicemail stated that it was full, and an email was not returned.
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, in a dissenting opinion, stated that Netzer should be suspended for six months, the minimum threshold for an attorney to have to apply for reinstatement before practicing law again.
Abrahamson, who was joined in her dissent by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, wrote that ”reinstatement must be by order of this court after prescribed proceedings, not merely by affidavit of the attorney of compliance and the director’s notification of compliance.”Follow @eheisigWLJ