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Home / Legal News / Germantown lawyer faces 18-month suspension for 23 alleged counts of misconduct

Germantown lawyer faces 18-month suspension for 23 alleged counts of misconduct

A Germantown attorney faces an 18-month suspension of his license for 23 alleged counts of misconduct, including refusing to discuss a case with a client unless she had sex with him.

Craig Vance graduated from Marquette University Law School and was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 2002. His license has been suspended since Feb. 20, 2014, for failing to cooperate with OLR investigations of grievances related to the complaint filed against him. He has not been previously disciplined.

Vance could not be immediately reached Tuesday. Phone numbers listed on the State Bar and the Wisconsin Court system website were disconnected.

An Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint filed Wednesday accuses Vance of not communicating with and responding to six clients, not taking action on those clients’ cases, practicing with a suspended license and not cooperating with the OLR’s investigation into claims included in the complaint.

The OLR also alleged that he began a sexual relationship in November 2013 with one of his clients, M.J., who lived at a West Allis domestic abuse shelter, after he was retained.

According to the complaint, Vance would not discuss the details of her case until after they had sex, and M.J. believed that if she did not agree to his requests for sex, he would not take action on her case.

According to the complaint, Vance shared case names and details with M.J., and played his voicemails while she was in his office.

In January 2014, M.J. told Vance she no longer was interested in a sexual relationship, and Vance responded by making her perform oral sex on him, according to the OLR’s complaint. He continued to represent M.J. until April 2014, when M.J. hired another attorney and a grievance was filed with the OLR against Vance. He failed to respond.

The other allegations involve six other clients.

Vance took on three new clients after his license had been temporarily suspended, according to the OLR’s complaint. He agreed to represent two clients regarding temporary restraining order petitions and appeared at hearings either with that client or on their behalf, according to the complaint. He also agreed to represent a couple in a lawsuit against Chrysler Group. He did not continue to work on the case, according to the OLR, and did not tell the couple a court had dismissed the case.

The OLR alleges that in three other case, Vance did not communicate with his clients, did not take action on their cases and did not disclose that his license had been temporarily suspended.

In March 2012, Zak Alton hired Vance to represent him in a lawsuit against Polaris Industries Inc. But Vance did not tell Alton that he had filed lawsuit, did not take any action on Alton’s case from March 2012 to August 2012, did not tell his client that Polaris had made settlement offers, and did not respond to any of those offers, according to the complaint.

And when Alton retained his brother, Brock, to represent him in the case, Vance refused to give Brock a copy of the file. Brock filed a grievance against Vance with the OLR, and Vance failed to respond until the state Supreme Court ordered him to do so or his license would be suspended. As time passed, he failed to continue to respond to the OLR, so the court temporarily suspended his license in February 2014.

And while representing a client in a lawsuit against Ford Motor Co., Vance failed to list witnesses and provide expert reports. Ford’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case, citing Vance’s failure to prosecute the case.

It was only at the Jan. 21, 2014, hearing on the motion that Vance appeared and filed a witness list, according to the OLR. From that point, Vance did not communicate with his client or opposing counsel and did not inform them that his license had been temporarily suspended.

The circuit court dismissed the lawsuit because of Vance’s failure to diligently prosecute, according to the OLR. The client learned about the case’s dismissal from online records and filed a grievance against Vance with the OLR.

Vance also represented a client regarding a restraining order petition, according to the complaint. He did not tell that client or the Jefferson County district attorney and court about his license suspension, appearing at a court hearing but then failing to attend a status conference. The client told the court Vance had not been responsive and had not done his job as her attorney. The court terminated Vance’s representation, according to the OLR, and referred the client to the State Public Defender’s Office.

Once Vance is served with the complaint, he has 20 days to respond to the OLR’s allegations.

About Erika Strebel,

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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