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Kenosha attorney facing 2-year suspension wants misconduct allegations dismissed

A Kenosha attorney is denying allegations that he committed nine counts of misconduct.

The Office of Lawyer Regulation charged Terry Constant in April with nine counts of misconduct, primarily trust-account violations, stemming from Constant’s handling of a Kenosha woman’s personal-injury lawsuit.

According to the complaint, the client hired Constant in 2009, and he disbursed from his trust account in 2010 and 2011 13 checks that were related to the case and that totaled nearly $350. He did that even though he never deposited into his trust account any money that was allocated to the woman’s case.

The OLR alleges constant settled the lawsuit in 2013 for $175,000. Although he had not yet received any money connected to the case into his trust account, he wrote out six checks worth $3,144 from the account, one of which was a $1,000 check made out to himself, according to the complaint.

In July 2013, Constant deposited the settlement into his trust account but failed to notify the client in writing that he had both received the settlement and deposited it into his trust account, the OLR alleges. Moreover, a statement Constant gave the client showed that Constant was entitled to $55,290.93 in fees and costs yet he withdrew more than $80,000 designated as fees and costs related to the case from the trust account.

The OLR also alleges Constant delivered about $55,000 in partial settlement payments to the client. But in order to make some of those payments, he had to deposit $800,000 not related to the matter into the account. Moreover, Constant transferred $16,000 from the trust account to his business account without identifying which client matter that money was related and withdrew $4,600 in cash from his trust account, according to the complain. Cash transfers from trust accounts are prohibited by Supreme Court rules.

The complaint also lays out trust-account violations unrelated to the settlement. Those violations were uncovered when the OLR investigated two overdrafts from his trust account in November 2014.

By the OLR’s count, Constant still owes the client $2,100.65 in settlement money.

The agency wants the Wisconsin Supreme Court to order Constant to pay that amount in restitution to the client and order his license suspended for two years.

Constant, who is representing himself, filed an answer in May denying the allegations and asking that the OLR’s complaint be dismissed. He contends, among other things, that he never received cash from his trust account and that he does not owe the client any more money.

Dennis Flynn, a retired judge, has been appointed referee in the case, and he has asked Constant and the OLR to make a good-faith effort to reach a stipulation on the facts in the matter. According to court records, a four-day evidentiary hearing is scheduled for July next year at the Kenosha County Courthouse.

After that hearing, Flynn will issue a report assessing whether misconduct was committed and, if so, will make recommendations for discipline and restitution. Constant will have the opportunity to appeal that report. The Wisconsin Supreme Court will review Flynn’s report and issue a final decision in the matter.

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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