A former Milwaukee-area attorney’s law license has been revoked after he told the Wisconsin Supreme Court that he could not defend himself against the misconduct he committed.
Joshua Stubbins worked as an associate attorney at Milwaukee-based Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan LLP, primarily defending consumer protection and product liability cases. The investigated misconduct stemmed from four client matters.
According to the Supreme Court’s per curiam decision, the Office of Lawyer Regulation “emphasizes that [he] repeatedly lied to clients, to opposing counsel, and to members of his own law firm. He also engaged in a course of billing that was misleading and unethical.”
The court’s opinion admonishes Stubbins, stating that he “does not possess the necessary character to hold a license to practice law in this state.”
“These were not one or two isolated instances, but rather a pattern of deceitful statements and unethical conduct,” according to the decision.
In one of the client matters, Stubbins was hired by E.W., a partner at his firm, to represent him in a foreclosure action. He was supposed to file complaints in the case by October 2009 but did not do so until July 2011. Meanwhile, he “made multiple misrepresentations regarding the status of the matters, including falsely suggesting that certain actions, such as the service of a complaint, had been accomplished,” according to the decision.
In another case, when the firm was representing a holdover tenant in a commercial lease, Stubbins was told to end the tenancy and return the keys to the landlord. Stubbins did not return the keys, though, which caused the tenant to pay seven months of double rent charges. The law firm had to make a claim with its malpractice insurance carrier, according to the decision, and they ultimately reduced the client’s bill by $11,000.
In the third case, when Stubbins represented a finance company on the charge that it improperly seized a car and auctioned it off, he lied to opposing counsel by saying a representative for his client was ill and could not be deposed.
Eventually, the case was dismissed, except for a portion pertaining to damages. Stubbins did not tell his clients, according to the decision. Eventually, the court sanctioned Stubbins $9,600 for his conduct in the case.
Finally, Stubbins, when representing a client, entered into a mediation without a client’s knowledge and settled the case. Several weeks after the mediation, Stubbins left the firm, and another attorney was able to reopen the case and re-settle, according to the decision.
Stubbins’ law license was suspended in October 2013 for not paying his State Bar dues and not completing his required continuing legal education.
While the court revoked his license, it declined to impose any restitution. According to the decision, while there was “evidence that Attorney Stubbins had overbilled a client in one of the four matters, there was no evidence that Attorney Stubbins himself had ever been in possession or control of client funds, and the law firm subsequently reduced the client’s bill.”
Stubbins graduated from American University Washington College of Law in 2003 and was licensed to practice in Wisconsin in 2007. The State Bar’s website lists his current address in Rockville, Md.
He could not immediately be reached for comment.
If Stubbins wants his law license reinstated, he can petition the court after five years.Follow @eheisigWLJ