A Milwaukee lawyer’s fifth disciplinary action resulted in a 60-day law-license suspension and him having to pay more than $19,300 in costs of the proceeding.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in the Office of Lawyer Regulation’s case against Scott F. Anderson, of Scott F. Anderson Law Office in Milwaukee, on Wednesday.
The OLR filed a complaint against Anderson in 2018 for 10 counts of misconduct. The charges stemmed from cases appointed to Anderson by the State Public Defender.
The two clients said Anderson didn’t communicate with them in a timely fashion, and in some cases, didn’t respond at all.
In 2019, a referee held a three-day evidentiary hearing in the OLR’s case against Anderson. She found that the OLR met the burden of proof for six of the counts, noting that, in one of the cases, Anderson was appointed standby counsel only.
However, she said that Anderson did fail to communicate with both clients, often ignoring their request for information. According to the opinion, Anderson said although he could have been better at communicating, the clients were often asking for unimportant information.
“The referee said both clients had significant interests at stake in their cases,” the state Supreme Court opinion said. “J.H. was facing life in prison, so the clients understandably wanted a lawyer who would help them, fight for them, and take their cases seriously, which required an attorney who would listen and respond to them. Attorney Anderson failed to do so.”
The OLR sought a 120-day license suspension, and Anderson argued for a public reprimand. The referee recommended that the court suspend Anderson’s license for 30 days, citing Anderson’s acceptance of responsibility for his actions and his “difficult” work environment in high-stakes criminal cases.
The state Supreme Court said its policy has been imposing a minimum license suspension of 60 days, and the justices saw no reason to depart from that in this case, especially since Anderson had already received a 60-day suspension in 2010 for misconduct.
“Although the referee found that Attorney Anderson has expressed remorse and accepted responsibility for his conduct, it does not appear that he took the lessons of the 2010 suspension to heart,” the opinion said. “If the previous suspension were not a decade old, we may well have considered a suspension longer than 60 days.”
The suspension is effective Dec. 9. Anderson must also pay $19,339.98 in costs of the proceeding.
Anderson was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1985. He received a consensual private reprimand in 1991 and consensual public reprimands in 2004 and 2005. The 2010 suspension was for misconduct that included not communicating with a client and failing to take action on the client’s behalf.
Anderson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Follow @WLJReporter