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Fox Valley attorney loses license for 90 days for keeping payment, lying to OLR

The Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended a Fox Valley attorney’s law license for 90 days after finding him guilty of keeping a payment meant for an investigator and not cooperating with the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

The OLR charged Mark Ditter, who practices law at Ditter Law Offices in Kaukauna, with four counts of misconduct in 2020. The complaint said Ditter kept $2,400 that he had received from the State Public Defender’s Office to pay an investigator who worked with him on two SPD cases.

The state Supreme Court’s opinion said Ditter lied to the OLR throughout the investigation into the alleged misconduct, including alleging he sent a payment to the investigator and mailed a written response to the grievance against him. The court temporarily suspended his license in May 2019 for failing to cooperate with the OLR’s investigation into his conduct.

The OLR had difficulty getting in touch with Ditter throughout the process, according to the opinion. He eventually agreed to enter into a stipulation and pleaded no contest to the misconduct alleged in the complaint.

The referee thought the 60-day suspension requested by the OLR was insufficient and instead recommended that Ditter lose his law license for 120 days. She cited Ditter’s conduct, failure to cooperate with the OLR investigation and his previous disciplinary history as reasons to impose a longer suspension.

“Attorney Ditter’s previous misconduct involved continuing to engage in the practice of law for nearly 11 months after his license had been administratively suspended and a failure to cooperate with the ensuing disciplinary investigation, which demonstrated a cavalier attitude toward his obligation to comply with this court’s rules of conduct,” the opinion said. “His conduct in this matter demonstrated a similar attitude.”

The state Supreme Court agreed 60 days wasn’t long enough, and then the justices considered whether 90 or 120 days was appropriate. The court found a disciplinary case against Attorney Melinda Alfredson to be analogous and chose to impose the same 90-day suspension as discipline.

“We certainly do not condone Attorney Ditter’s failure to cooperate or his false statements to the OLR,” the opinion said. “…Nevertheless, although each case must be decided based on its unique facts, we endeavor to impose similar discipline in similar cases.”

Ditter must also pay $3,896.68 in costs of the proceeding. He was not ordered to pay restitution to the investigator because the SPD already recouped the $2,400 by deducting that amount from the fees owed to Ditter in other cases.

His license remains administratively suspended for failing to pay bar dues, file a trust-account certification and complete continuing legal education requirements.

Ditter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

About Michaela Paukner, [email protected]

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at [email protected]

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