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OLR, Kenosha attorney appealing referee’s recommendation for license suspension

Both parties in a lawyer-discipline case are appealing a referee’s recommendation that a Kenosha lawyer’s license be suspended for five months for breaking eight attorney-ethics rules.

The recommendation stems from a complaint the Office of Lawyer Regulation filed against Terry Constant in 2017, charging him with nine counts of misconduct, primarily trust-account violations. The OLR in July dismissed one count, which involved an allegation that Constant had provided a false statement in a letter to the OLR.

Some of the alleged misconduct happened while Constant was representing a Kenosha woman in a personal-injury lawsuit. Others were uncovered as a result of the OLR’s investigating two instances in which Constant overdrew his trust account.

The OLR had asked for a two-year license suspension.

Constant, who is representing himself, filed an answer denying the allegations. He offered affirmative defenses for his conduct, such as that his Quicken software had malfunctioned and that he did not know that none of his actions should be considered misconduct. Constant contended that either a public reprimand or a two-month license suspension would be adequate discipline, noting that he was in his late 70s and planning to either retire or wind down his practice.

Dennis Flynn, a retired judge appointed referee in the case, held an evidentiary hearing in November.

Flynn filed a report in February recommending that the justices find that Constant committed all eight counts of misconduct.

Flynn wrote that a two-year license suspension was “extreme” and “unduly punitive” but noted that Constant’s behavior warranted more than a public or private reprimand.
In the end, Flynn suggested that Constant’s license be suspended for five months.

Flynn also recommended other conditions, including that Constant have his trust account monitored by the OLR for two years should he continue to practice law. Flynn also suggested that Constant complete 12 hours of continuing legal education approved by the OLR and that six of those hours concern proper trust-account management.

Both the OLR and Constant are appealing Flynn’s recommendations.

The high court will consider their arguments, review Flynn’s recommendation and issue a final decision in the matter.


About Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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