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High court suspends West Allis attorney’s license

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//February 17, 2016

High court suspends West Allis attorney’s license

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//February 17, 2016

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended the license of a West Allis attorney for 35 counts of misconduct.

Wednesday’s discipline stems from an Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint filed in January 2014 alleging that Michael Hicks committed more than 40 counts of misconduct, involving several clients.

Hicks’ practice relied on appointments from the State Public Defender’s office to represent indigent defendants in criminal cases.

In general, according to Wednesday’s decision, Hicks would send initial letters to clients informing them that he had been appointed to represent them and then would ignore those clients, fail to take necessary actions on their behalf, then fail to respond adequately to the OLR when it investigated grievances the client had filed.

As a result, the high court suspended Hicks’ license twice in an attempt to compel him to respond to the OLR. Yet, according to the court, Hicks continued to practice, appeared in court on behalf of at least 12 clients and failed to notify them that he could not represent them.

The court noted in Wednesday’s decision that Hicks filed notice in February 2015 that he was appealing the referee’s findings, which recommended the court suspend his license for two years over 35 counts of misconduct. Hicks, though, never filed an opening brief or statement and did not respond to the OLR’s dismissal of his appeal, nor an order from the clerk to either file a brief or ask for an extension. The court said it had concluded that Hicks had abandoned his appeal.

The court on Wednesday, in addition to adopting the referee’s recommendation, also ordered Hicks to pay the cost of the disciplinary proceeding, which came to $10,572.49.

Hicks graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1984. He was publicly reprimanded in 2012 for nine counts of misconduct, including neglect, failure to communicate with clients and failure to cooperate with the OLR. He most recently operated a private practice in West Allis, according to court documents.



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