The Wisconsin Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded a Madison attorney who is also the mayor of Fitchburg.
The Office of Lawyer Regulation filed charges in 2016 against Jason Gonzalez, who was then an alderman as well as a criminal-defense attorney. The OLR alleged Gonzalez had committed nine counts of misconduct arising from his handling of two clients’ cases, including failing to do legal research, failing to communicate with a client and failing to diligently pursue a client’s case.
The OLR had asked that the Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimand Gonzalez, who filed an answer denying the charges.
The OLR and Gonzalez, represented by Peyton Engel of Hurley Burish, Madison, presented evidence at a hearing held in August last year before the referee James Boll.
Boll filed a report in November last year finding that Gonzalez had only committed five of the nine alleged counts of misconduct. Nonetheless, he recommended that Gonzalez be publicly reprimanded.
Although a public reprimand does not ban a lawyer from practicing, it does mean the court’s final decision will be made public and will be sent to the newspaper in the lawyer’s hometown.
Gonzalez filed notice about a year ago that he was appealing Boll’s findings. He contended that some of Boll’s conclusions had not been grounded in facts on the record, that he had not had an attorney-client relationship with one of the clients named in the complaint and that a private, rather than public, reprimand was the appropriate response.
Unlike a public reprimand, a private reprimand means the OLR would merely publish a summary of the court’s decision, one not containing information that would identify Gonzalez.
The high court instead on Thursday adopted Boll’s recommendations in a per curiam decision.
“Although Attorney Gonzalez has no disciplinary history, and even though the referee found that the OLR did not meet its burden of proof on all counts alleged in the complaint, the counts that were proven are serious enough to warrant public discipline,” the court wrote.
The justices also ordered Gonzalez to pay $9,733.36, which was the full cost of the disciplinary proceeding.