A Kenosha attorney who maintained he “did nothing wrong” will lose his law license for six months for eight misconduct violations.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court announced Terry Constant’s suspension on Tuesday. The misconduct charges were mostly trust-account violations related to a Kenosha woman’s personal-injury lawsuit.
The Office of Lawyer Regulation had asked for a two-year license suspension. A referee called the proposed suspension “extreme” and “unduly punitive” and instead recommended a five-month suspension.
Constant denied the charges and argued the OLR had failed to meet the burden of proof. He said he didn’t owe the client any money and blamed his behavior on malfunctioning software, a bank employee who had given him “incorrect instructions on how to operate his trust account” and his not knowing his actions could be considered misconduct. He thought even a five-month suspension would be excessive.
The OLR countered by recommending a suspension of at least a year, saying Constant’s trust-account violations were “systemic and intentional” and his inability to identify whose money he used for disbursement means the true extent of his trust-account misconduct is unknown.
The high court decided a six-month suspension would be appropriate because Constant will have to file a formal petition seeking reinstatement. He will also have to complete 12 hours of continuing legal education, at least half of which will be courses related to managing a trust account, have his trust account monitored by the OLR for two years after reinstatement and pay $13,409.63 in court costs.
“Attorney Constant provided the OLR with incomplete and inconsistent trust account and client records, and he represented that he had not made cash withdrawals from his trust account when in fact he had done so,” the opinion said. “In addition … Attorney Constant has consistently maintained that he did nothing wrong.”
Justice Brian Hagedorn dissented from the ruling, saying he would have adopted the referee’s recommendation of a five-month suspension.
Constant was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1968. He does not have any previous disciplinary history.Follow @WLJReporter