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High court extends suspension of Rhinelander attorney’s license

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has extended the suspension of a Rhinelander attorney’s license.

The court had suspended Richard Voss’ license in July 2014 for 18 months for mishandling thousands of dollars while he was a court-appointed guardian and ordered him to pay more than $2,000 in restitution to a former client’s estate.

The suspension was to end on Feb. 22, 2016, but the court decided Tuesday to tack on another 60-day suspension for misconduct related to an Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint filed shortly after his license was suspended in July 2014.

Tuesday’s discipline stems from six counts of misconduct related to Voss’ representation of two bankruptcy clients and his trust account practices.

According to the court’s per curiam decision, Voss, of Voss Law Office, failed to properly file paperwork in two bankruptcy cases in 2013. He had clients pay him $306 toward a filing fee for bankruptcy petitions, according to an OLR complaint filed Sept. 5. In both cases, Voss filed for a waiver of a petition fee and told his client that he would refund the money if the waiver was granted.

But Voss or his staff did not disclose the money he had in his account on the waiver forms, according to the complaint. One of the waiver petitions was denied, and Voss took more than a month to pay the fee and did not notify his client.

Voss also, according to the court, continues to fail to follow trust account rules, maintaining a client trust account since 1986 that does not accrue interest to be paid to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation Inc. He was publicly reprimanded in 2006 in part for breaking various trust account rules, including not having an IOLTA trust account.

The OLR had asked the court to suspend Voss’ license for six months, and Voss encouraged a referee to recommend a less-than-6-month suspension consecutive to his current suspension that ends in February 2016.

The referee, agreed and recommended a 60-day license suspension, noting that the misconduct had more to do more to do with “sloppy office supervision and inadequate staff and self-training” than intentional professional misconduct.

The Supreme Court agreed with the referee, noting that while the case was ”merely a result of sloppy lawyering” it had no difficulty justifying a 60-day suspension based on previous cases.

Voss graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1976. In addition to his license being suspended in July 2014, he was publicly reprimanded in 2006 for breaking trust account and contingent fee agreement rules while representing a client in a dispute with a construction contractor.

Voss was also privately reprimanded in 2004 for failing to provide competent representation and failing to keep a client reasonably informed.

About Erika Strebel, [email protected]

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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