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Supreme Court won’t allow disbarred Florida attorney to practice in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Supreme Court won’t allow a disbarred Florida attorney to practice law in Wisconsin.

David E. Hammer practiced law in Florida from 2006 until 2010. The Supreme Court of Florida suspended his license in 2010 and then disbarred him in 2011 for trust-account violations and misappropriation of client funds.

In 2018, Hammer applied for admission to the State Bar of Wisconsin and passed the Wisconsin bar exam. However, the Board of Bar Examiners denied his admission, finding he didn’t meet character and fitness requirements because of his previous misconduct while practicing law in Florida.

Hammer appealed the decision, but on Thursday the high court found that Hammer did not meet the character and fitness requirements for admission to the State Bar.

The opinion said Hammer’s disbarment in Florida could, arguably, be the end of the court’s inquiry because Supreme Court Rule 40.06 provides suspension or revocation in another jurisdiction is a sufficient basis for denial.

However, neither party considered the rule dispositive, so the court addressed the arguments. Hammer took issued with many of the Board’s factual findings, but the opinion said the court didn’t need to decided whether the Board committed error in characterizing some of his past conduct as abuse of process.

“There is ample evidence to support the Board’s conclusion that Mr. Hammer engaged in abuse of process, as evidenced by having been found in civil contempt,” the opinion said, citing several instances where a federal court found Hammer in civil contempt.

Hammer claimed the Board was discriminating against him because he was a Florida resident, a claim the state Supreme Court said was “constructed upon a faulty foundation.”

Hammer also argued the Board’s conclusion was inconsistent with the state Supreme Court’s resolution of other bar admission cases, but the opinion said Hammer could not be admitted to their ranks.

“With the serious nature of his misconduct, coupled with the number of incidents revealing deficiencies, Mr. Hammer has created a very heavy burden for himself,” the opinion said. “In such cases the passage of time may not be sufficient to persuade us that an applicant should be admitted to the practice of law.”

A phone number listed for Hammer’s Florida practice is out of service and updated contact information could not be found.


About Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at mpaukner@wislawjournal.com.

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