A referee is recommending that the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspend the license of a Walworth County attorney for 60 days over several charges of misconduct.
The charges stem from a complaint the Office of Lawyer Regulation filed in 2017 against the East Troy-based attorney Patrick Hudec.
The OLR alleged Hudec violated six attorney-ethics rules while handling cases in Waukesha and Walworth counties. The allegations include that Hudec failed to keep a client reasonably informed about a case and failed to enter into a written fee agreement with a client laying out the scope of the work he would do and the reasons for his fee.
The OLR had asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to suspend Hudec’s license for 60 days.
Hudec, who is representing himself, filed an answer to those charges, denying that he had committed all six counts of misconduct and asking that the OLR’s complaint be dismissed.
However, Hudec later appeared to reach a stipulation with the OLR in which he pleaded no contest to the misconduct alleged in the complaint, agreed to the 60-day suspension and agreed to pay a judgement in the Waukesha County case.
Hudec tried to retract the stipulation, then relented after the referee in the case, Rick Esenberg, said in an order that the hearing in the case would not be rescheduled unless there was good cause to do so.
Hudec also asked Esenberg to strike the OLR’s analysis of the stipulation or allow him to file his own analysis of the stipulation.
In a report filed Jan. 8, Esenberg noted that he hadn’t understood Hudec’s objection to the OLR’s analysis of the stipulation because it only identified case law and the rationale for supporting it. Moreover, Esenberg allowed Hudec to file the analysis but Hudec never submitted it.
Esenberg recommended that the high court accept the stipulation, noting that Hudec’s misconduct was serious and that discipline beyond a reprimand, which is a warning, was warranted because the court had already privately reprimanded Hudec three times and publicly reprimanded him twice for similar misconduct.
Next, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will review Esenberg’s recommendation and issue a final decision in the matter. Follow @erikastrebel