The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended an Oshkosh attorney’s license for 90 days.
Tuesday’s discipline stems from a complaint the Office of Lawyer Regulation filed last year against Melinda Alfredson of Oshkosh-based Clausen Law.
The OLR alleged that Alfredson had committed six counts of misconduct while handling two divorce cases. It sought a 120-day suspension.
In responding to the charges, Alfredson admitted to three of the six counts of misconduct the OLR alleged she committed.
However, the OLR and Alfredson eventually reached a stipulation in which Alfredson admitted to all the allegations of misconduct. The OLR agreed to modify three of the charges and seek a 90-day suspension.
The referee in the case, Nicholas Schweitzer, recommended in October that the justices adopt the stipulation.
The justices on Tuesday agreed with Schweitzer, however they noted that it was a close call given the weakness of the mitigating circumstances the OLR pointed to in its sanction brief, including Alfredson’s “lack of substantial legal experience.”
The justices noted that the misconduct in the case occurred between 2015 and 2017, long after Alfredson was admitted to the bar in 2009. Also, the rules she had violated were simple ones, including that she did not hold client money in trust and spent it on personal expenses, she did not pay money owed to third parties promptly and did not cooperate with the OLR.
“Even the greenest lawyer is charged with knowledge of these basic rules,” the court wrote. “Surely Attorney Alfredson, with multiple years of experience under her belt, should have known better.”
The high court also warned Alfredson about committing misconduct in the future, making reference to the fact that the court had suspended her license for 60 days in 2017 over 16 counts of misconduct.
“We impose this 90-day suspension with the same caveat that we gave in Alfredson I: we expect that Attorney Alfredson will not commit future misconduct, and should this expectation be disappointed, our progressive discipline system will await,” the justices wrote.
Alfredson’s suspension begins April 9.
The justices also ordered Alfredson to pay the OLR’s costs, which were $2,649.59 as of Nov. 15.Follow @erikastrebel