The Wisconsin Supreme Court disciplined an Appleton patent attorney for a second time this year.
The action on Thursday stemmed from an Office of Lawyer Regulation filed in June charging Alan Stewart with three counts of misconduct, alleging that he had filed patent applications while his license was suspended and failed to respond to the agency’s inquiries about the matter.
The OLR had sought a 60-day suspension of Stewart’s license, a disciplinary step that would have been tacked onto the end of the 9-month suspension the justices had imposed on Stewart in April for refusing to refund thousands of dollars in fees he had never earned.
Stewart never answered the complaint but later appeared at a scheduling conference to ask for permission to discuss what disciplinary measures would be appropriate. He later admitted to the three counts of misconduct but asked for the license suspension to be concurrent, rather than consecutive to, his nine-month suspension, which expires Jan. 19. The OLR agreed.
In September, the referee in the case, John Murphy, found that Stewart had committed all three counts of misconduct but agreed with Stewart that the 60-day suspension should be concurrent with the 9-month suspension. He also recommended that Stewart pay the full cost for the proceeding, which was $805.85.
The high court on Thursday agreed with Murphy but wrote that he and the other parties had not cited any case law to support contentions over whether a concurrent license suspension was warranted.
In making their ruling, the justices cited an opinion from 2014 in a case involving a Wausau-area attorney, Tim Osicka. The justices contended that the misconduct for which Murphy had been disciplined in April and the misconduct before the court could have all been dealt with in a single proceeding and with a single sanction. For those reasons, the justices found that the proposed disciplinary measures need not be tacked on to the end of the measures it had imposed in April.Follow @erikastrebel