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High court revokes Milwaukee attorney’s license

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended the license of a Milwaukee lawyer who failed to respond to dozens of allegations of misconduct.

Tuesday’s discipline stems from proceedings that began when the OLR filed a complaint last year charging Sergio Magaña with 27 counts of misconduct, including fabricating letters from the U.S. State Department, lying to clients about work done on their cases and collecting flat fees from clients but never doing any work on those matters. The agency had initially asked that his license be suspended for one year.

The OLR filed a 61-page amended complaint months later, ratcheting up the request for discipline to revocation of Magaña’s license and adding 47 more alleged rule violations, including allegations that he had failed to notify the agency and the Supreme Court clerk that he had been convicted of a second drunken-driving offense.

Magaña failed to respond to the OLR’s complaint although the OLR agreed to give him more time to respond. The agency filed a motion in April calling for him to be found in default.

Magaña also failed to attend a hearing in May on that motion. The court-appointed referee Jonathan Goodman filed a report in June finding Magaña in default and recommending that the court revoke Magana’s license, calling Magana’s behavior “egregious.”

Goodman also recommended that Magaña pay the cost of the proceeding ($4,925.31) and $1,470 worth of restitution, including $420 to his former law firm, Madison-based Durrani Law Firm, and $1,050 to two former clients. Magaña did not contest those recommendations.

The court agreed with Goodman’s recommendations in Tuesday’s per curiam decision.

“The undisputed facts show a clear pattern of neglect by Attorney Magaña of his clients’ needs and objectives, of his professional obligations as an attorney, and of the basic importance of truthfulness,” the court wrote. “No sanction short of revocation would be sufficient to protect the public, deter other lawyers from similar behavior, and impress upon Attorney Magaña the many errors of his ways.”

The justices also ordered that Magaña first pay the $1,470 in restitution before paying the cost of the disciplinary proceeding.

The revocation is effective starting Tuesday. However, Magaña, who graduated from Marquette University Law School in 2012, is not permanently banned from practicing in the state. After five years, he can petition the court for reinstatement, which would require him to present evidence at a public hearing and allow the OLR to weigh in.

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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