A Milwaukee attorney faces a four-month license suspension over allegations that he mishandled State Public Defender appointments.
According to an Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint filed on Sept. 26, Scott Anderson, of the Milwaukee-based firm Scott F. Anderson Law Office, committed 10 counts of misconduct while representing two criminal defendants.
Four of the charges stem from two felony cases in which the SPD had appointed Anderson to represent a criminal defendant.
Anderson failed to reasonably consult the client about a motion and an interlocutory appeal the client wanted him to file, the OLR alleges. Anderson did not tell the client in a timely fashion that he would not be filing the motion or appeal and never consulted the client about it.
Moreover, Anderson failed to tell the client about the status of the case and talk about defense strategy and failed to respond to the client’s reasonable requests for information about the case, according to the complaint. In the absence of communication from Anderson, the SPD would often contact the client on the behalf of Anderson.
Also, Anderson failed to act diligently and promptly, resulting in the client’s attempting to negotiate a plea directly with the district attorney working on the case, according to the complaint.
The remaining six charges stem from two Milwaukee County criminal cases in which the SPD had appointed Anderson to be the defendant’s standby counsel.
The OLR alleges that a judge ordered Anderson to prepare, file and distribute the client’s motions and witness list, and Anderson agreed to do it in 10 days. However, he failed to do so despite billing for reviewing “Client Prepared Docs” and “Prep of Discovery Demand.”
When the district attorney sent six pages of additional discovery requests to Anderson, Anderson neither gave the client the discovery documents nor notified the client about it. Moreover, the client requested that Anderson give back his handwritten motions and that Anderson send a letter stating the deadlines for his motions so that he could get time in the prison’s law library to prepare those motions. Anderson did none of those things, according to the OLR.
Moreover, the complaint alleges Anderson lied in court by saying that he had given the client all the discovery materials and that he had not received the client’s drafts of motions. He also told the court, during a sentencing hearing in September 2016, that he was not “on the case,” even though he had been appointed to it in March 2016, according to the complaint.
The client, who was convicted in September 2016, filed a grievance with the OLR. When agency representatives attempted to investigate the claims against him, Anderson lied about having received additional discovery requests, providing the discovery information to the client and receiving the client’s motions.
The OLR is asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to suspend Anderson’s license for four months.
He has 20 days to respond to the complaint.
Anderson, who earned his law degree from Marquette University Law School in 1985, has been disciplined before by the high court. In 1991, he consented to the justices privately reprimanding him. The court also publicly reprimanded him – with his consent – in 2004 and 2005. The justices later suspended Anderson’s license for two months, in 2010.
Anderson’s license is active and in good standing, according to the OLR and State Bar of Wisconsin websites. Follow @erikastrebel