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Milwaukee attorney reprimanded for having sex with client

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded the leader of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee.

Thursday’s discipline stems from a 2014 complaint filed by the Office of Lawyer Regulation alleging that Othman Atta, while representing a woman in a divorce proceeding, had a relationship with that woman.

And though the pair were in a relationship, he continued to represent her and did not disclose it to the court or opposing counsel in the divorce case, the OLR alleges.

The OLR had asked the justices to publicly reprimand him. Atta, who graduated from Marquette University Law School in 1994, initially denied the allegations in answering the complaint. Later, however, he withdrew his answer and reached a stipulation with the OLR during the disciplinary proceeding, pleading no contest to all eight counts of alleged misconduct.

The referee for the proceeding also suggested that the justices publicly reprimand Atta, noting, among other things, that he had no prior discipline in his more than 20 years of practice.

The justices agreed Thursday with the OLR that a public reprimand was appropriate in a 5-2 decision with Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Shirley Abrahamson dissenting. The majority also ordered Atta to pay the cost of the proceeding, or $9,187.41.

Bradley found the court’s discipline inadequate given that Atta had lied to the OLR and to the circuit court in the divorce proceeding, according to the dissent she wrote Thursday. Abrahamson joined in Bradley’s dissent.

“I have written in the past, and I do again today, because the court appears to be too lenient for violations of this nature that undermine the trust relationship and truthfulness required of an attorney,” according to the dissenting opinion.

About Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

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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