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Referee: Former Sheboygan attorney should pay for disciplinary proceeding

A court-appointed referee is saying that a former lawyer who had practiced in the Sheboygan area should pay for his disciplinary proceedings before the state Supreme Court.

The case stems from an Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint filed in 2015 against Robert Horsch, alleging three counts of misconduct, including that Horsch failed to report two drunken-driving convictions to the OLR.

The OLR had asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to privately reprimand Horsch and require him to participate in drug-abuse and mental-health assessments, submit to drug monitoring for two years and abstain from alcohol and drugs while being monitored.

Court-appointed referee Rick Esenberg recommended in February that the Wisconsin Supreme Court privately reprimand Horsch and give him a chance to resign from the bar.

Esenberg submitted a recommendation on costs on April 25, stating that Horsch should pay $1,797.03 regardless of his financial situation.

Esenberg wrote that the decision to excuse an attorney from paying the cost of a disciplinary proceeding is best left to the high court.

He noted that the actual costs of the proceeding were greater than the OLR had asked for and that Horsch should have followed standard procedures for resigning from the bar.

Horsch had argued that the costs, which the OLR had requested, were not appropriate because he is no longer practicing law and is a stay-at-home father. Horsch also noted that his six-member household relies on income from his wife’s teaching job and that the family receives benefits from the Women, Infants and Children and BadgerCare programs.

In response, the OLR noted that Horsch could set up a payment plan. The OLR also argued that the court had a policy of imposing costs and that to not follow that policy would unfairly require the bar to absorb the costs of Horsch’s disciplinary proceeding.

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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