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Justices to grill lawyers for retired DA, rejected bar applicant

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//October 26, 2018//

Justices to grill lawyers for retired DA, rejected bar applicant

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//October 26, 2018//

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments on Monday in three cases, including one challenging the state’s Board of Bar Examiners’ rejection of a man’s application seeking admission to practice in Wisconsin.

The Board of Bar Examiners is an agency charged with administering the state’s bar exam, deciding who may be admitted to practice law in the state and ensuring that lawyers fulfill their continuing-legal-education requirements. Individual bar admission matters are confidential.

According to a summary provided by the Wisconsin state courts, Daniel Hausserman applied for admission in November 2015. After he had passed the bar exam in February 2017 and the board reviewed the character-and-fitness questionnaire and affidavit he submitted, the board decided not to admit Hausserman to the bar.

He requested a hearing and had one in January, but the board in March again rejected Hausserman’s application. The board’s reasons included, among other things, that Hausserman had failed to disclose a conviction for harassment involving a former girlfriend and had sought to minimize “other unlawful conduct.”

Hausserman appealed the decision in April, contending that he had taken responsibility for his past mistakes by serving out his punishment and that what had happened was an isolated incident that would not happen again and would not impede his ability to practice law.

The BBE, on the other hand, contended that Hausserman was downplaying the importance of his past misconduct and that his failure to disclose some of it was concerning. The BBE believes his conduct is evidence of a “repeated and blatant disregard for authority and the rule of law.”

Hausserman is represented by Terry Johnson of von Briesen & Roper’s Madison office. The case will be the first to be argued on Monday.

The last oral argument the justice will hear involves an disciplinary case filed against former Kenosha County District Attorney Robert Zapf.

The Office of Lawyer Regulation filed a complaint last year charging Zapf, who then had just retired from his position as Kenosha County District Attorney, with three counts of misconduct stemming from two related homicide cases he had prosecuted. The OLR alleges Zapf withheld information from the court and defense counsel.

After an evidentiary hearing in July, the referee in the case, the retired judge Dennis Flynn, filed a report recommending that the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspend his license for at least a year – four times longer than the discipline the OLR had sought.

A year-long suspension would require Zapf to apply for reinstatement, which have him present evidence at a public hearing.

Flynn also called for Zapf to pay all costs of the disciplinary proceeding and complete 25 hours of continuing legal-education courses on attorney and prosecutorial ethics in criminal cases. He also recommended that Zapf, even after the end of his suspension, be banned from working as a prosecutor in any district attorney’s office.

Zapf filed a notice of appeal last August and has hired the Milwaukee attorney Richard Cayo and Stacie Rosenzweig of Halling & Cayo to represent him, in addition to Michael Younglove, the Racine lawyer who had represented Zapf before the referee. The OLR is represented by its retained counsel, Gregg Herman of Milwaukee-based Loeb & Herman.

The court will also hear oral arguments in Steadfast Insurance Co. v Greenwich Ins. Co., which involves a pollution-insurance dispute stemming from four lawsuits that were filed after a heavy rain in June 2008 overwhelmed the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s sewer system and caused basement backups in more than 8,000 homes.

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