The Wisconsin Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded a Chicago attorney for practicing while his license was suspended.
Charles Boyle earned his degree from Loyola University School of Law in 1966. He has been licensed to practice law in Wisconsin since 1985. According to the State Bar and OLR websites, his license is in good standing.
Boyle has never been professionally disciplined in Wisconsin, though his license has been administratively suspended a number of times for not paying dues or reporting his completion of continuing-legal-education requirements, according to the Office of Lawyer Regulation. The last time that happened was in 2006.
Wednesday’s discipline stems from an Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint filed in October 2012 alleging nine counts of misconduct related to Boyle’s representation of a widow in Racine County Circuit Court and his behavior in the U.S. District for the Northern District of Illinois. The complaint was amended in June 2012.
The Office of Lawyer Regulation alleged that Boyle, while representing a woman in a civil case in Racine County Circuit court, filed motions and appeared in court while his Wisconsin license was suspended for failure to report his completion of continuing-education requirements and not paying dues. According to the complaint, he tried to get permission to appear pro hac vice in Racine County. When a judge refused to grant permission, he argued with him and later continued to pursue the matter in a draft order. The OLR also alleged that he lied to the Racine County Circuit Court Clerk about a filing deadline and his pro hac vice application.
The complaint also alleged Boyle broke several rules of the federal court, saying that he lied about being a member of the court’s trial bar while representing a woman in a case against a Chicago school board in the Northern District.
The OLR asked that Boyle’s license be suspended for two months and a court-appointed referee, after reviewing the facts of the case, suggested a three-month suspension.
However, the high court wrote in its Wednesday per curiam decision that it would only consider the part of the complaint related to the client Boyle represented in Racine County Circuit Court.
The justices agreed with all five counts of misconduct the referee and OLR identified in the Racine County court case, but it disagreed with the recommendations to suspend Boyle’s license, noting that Boyle had been licensed to practice in the state for more than 30 years and had no disciplinary record.
“On the other hand, Attorney Boyle should understand that his experience as a lawyer should not be used as an excuse to ignore the particularities of the ethical rules and the local court rules that govern his conduct or to stretch the truth in an effort to pursue what he believes is a just outcome,” the court wrote.
The court said Boyle lied and broke ethical rules, but did so to help his client, whom he represented pro bono.
“We are not dealing here with a lawyer who is acting improperly for his own benefit,” according to the court, “but rather with someone who acted overzealously and improperly while trying to help a disadvantaged person without compensation.”
Justices Ann Walsh Bradley dissented, joined by Shirley Abrahamson, contending that Tuesday’s public reprimand understates the gravity of Boyle’s lies to the Racine County court and does not consider the bigger picture of Boyle’s pattern of conduct. Bradley noted that in Illinois, Boyle’s license was suspended in July for converting trust funds in a medical-malpractice lawsuit. Bradley also argued that the decision did not adequately explain why the court had not considered the five counts of misconduct alleged to have occurred in the Northern District.
Boyle could not immediately be reached Wednesday afternoon.