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Wausau attorney facing 6-month suspension for failure to do work

A Wausau attorney who took cases for the State Public Defender’s office and allegedly didn’t perform any work on them is facing a six-month suspension of his law license.

Joseph Kaupie was on the public defender’s list to handle criminal appeals. According to a complaint filed by the Office of Lawyer Regulation on Nov. 6, he took four cases in 2009 and 2010 and either didn’t do work on them or missed deadlines. Eventually, they were assigned to new attorneys and Kaupie was suspended from taking public defender cases.

In one of the cases, he represented Jason Witak, a man convicted of sexual assault of a child in 2009 and sentenced to 12-1/2 years in prison. In July 2010, he filed a no-merit report in front of the circuit court and in front of the Court of Appeals in September 2010.

The appellate court ordered Kaupie to obtain a written order for the post-conviction motion but Kaupie failed to do so, according to the complaint. In May 2011, the court ordered Kaupie to explain his rationale for filing a no-merit appeal, but Kaupie did not do it, according to the complaint.

The no-merit report was converted into an appeal in August 2011, but Kaupie did not respond to any of the court’s orders. The public defender’s office eventually removed him from the case, according to the complaint.

When the OLR tried to get in touch with him, he could not be reached, according to the complaint. Mail was also returned as undeliverable. However, the agency was able to finally get a letter to him, but he did not respond to the allegations.

Kaupie faces 14 counts of misconduct, according to the complaint.

Kaupie graduated from the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1998 and was admitted to Wisconsin’s bar the following year. His law license has been suspended for not paying dues and not cooperating with the OLR’s investigation.

He did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

If the Supreme Court suspends his law license for six months or more, Kaupie would have to petition the court to be reinstated.


About Eric Heisig

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