A former city of Madison alderman who witnessed a murder-suicide in his home law office in November is facing a 90-day suspension for practicing while his license was suspended.
Michael Briggs, of Briggs Law Office, Oregon, faces 12 counts of misconduct, according to a complaint filed Tuesday by the Office of Lawyer Regulation. Seven of the counts have to do with his license being suspended in February 2013 and his continuing the practice of law until July of that year.
The OLR also is alleging Briggs did not notify a client that his license was suspended and misrepresented the extent of his practice while suspended during an investigation, according to the complaint.
He also faces disciplinary action related to his handling of a land contract dispute involving Jeff and Ronna Nyman. The complaint alleges that Briggs, in 2011, obtained a default judgment on behalf of his clients but did not file the judgment with the land records to show that the disputed property had reverted to the Nymans.
When it came to garnishing the defendants’ wages, though, Briggs took no action and ignored his clients’ calls, according to the complaint.
When the OLR initially reached out to Briggs about the investigation, he did not respond, according to the complaint. He finally responded in November 2013, though, and his license was reinstated in December.
The OLR is asking the state Supreme Court to suspend Briggs’ license for 90 days.
Briggs was a Madison alderman from 1977 to 1983. He also worked as an administrative law judge in the early 1980s and mostly handled probation and parole cases.
Reached by phone Thursday, Briggs said the fact that he practiced with a suspended license “was a matter of simple neglect on my part.” He said he was out of the country for a couple months and did not see a letter in the mail that informed him of the suspension. He said he only learned about it when a Dane County judge informed him of the suspension.
As for the Nyman matter, he said the dispute arose because the clients were not paying him for his legal work. Briggs said that he most likely is going to stipulate to the facts of the case and agree to the suspension, however. He would like to practice part-time, but said he is 79 and that he is “too old to fight this.”
“A 90-day vacation will not hurt me,” he said.
Briggs’ name made headlines in November when he was witness to a murder-suicide at his home law office in Madison. Henry Pullet Jr., who Briggs had represented in a divorce case several years earlier, shot his girlfriend, Elizabeth Singler, 64, at Briggs’ office. Pullet, 68, then killed himself.Follow @eheisigWLJ