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Wis. high court revokes Illinois attorney’s license

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has revoked the license of an attorney for misconduct in Illinois.

The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred John Peiss in 2015 for using client money to pay personal expenses and hiding in Madison to evade investigators. Peiss was licensed in Wisconsin in 1982.

The Office of Lawyer Regulation filed a complaint last year alleging that Peiss had failed to report his disbarment and calling on the Wisconsin Supreme Court to impose reciprocal discipline.

Peiss argued that there was no proof showing he had committed in misconduct in Illinois and that he had had no opportunity to be heard in the Illinois proceeding.

A referee had recommended that the Wisconsin Supreme Court impose reciprocal discipline on Peiss, noting that he had also tried to evade the OLR when it attempted to serve its complaint on him.

The high court agreed with the referee in a per curiam decision Thursday and revoked Peiss’ license. He is now banned from practicing law in Wisconsin, although he will be able to petition the court for reinstatement after five years. The justices also ordered Peiss to pay the cost of the proceedings.

Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote a concurring opinion suggesting that, in these sorts of cases, the OLR should be comparing the disciplinary measures sought in Wisconsin with those imposed in the other state.

“This failure on the part of the OLR hampers the work of this court,” she wrote. “The per curiam opinion is defective in not equating disbarment and revocation.”

Abrahamson went on to note that in Peiss’ case, though, that the disciplinary measures being sought in Illinois and Wisconsin were identical.

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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