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Former district attorney publicly reprimanded

SIREN, Wis. (AP) — A former Burnett County district attorney has been publicly reprimanded for pursuing female defendants.

The Office of Lawyer Regulation had accused William Norine of violating professional conduct rules during his time as district attorney. In one case, regulators said Norine had lunch with a woman his office was prosecuting. The reprimand says in another case, he told a female defendant she was a “wonderful beautiful person” who inspired him and offered to pay her phone bill if she “had time to meet.”

The OLR and Norine agreed that a public reprimand was warranted, and a court-appointed referee on Feb. 15 approved the agreement.

Norine said in an email that he never meant anyone harm.

Wisconsin Supreme Court rules allow the OLR’s director to offer a lawyer accused of misconduct the ability to consent to a public reprimand.

Should the lawyer take up the offer, a court-appointed referee will review the agreement in a confidential proceeding. The referee will considers comments from the lawyer and the OLR, as well as any response to the agreement coming from anyone who filed a grievance against the lawyer.

Should the lawyer refuse the OLR’s offer, the OLR is free to file formal charges with the court.

Wisconsin Law Journal staff writer Erika Strebel contributed to this report.

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