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In re Waters

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

March 9, 2016

In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against John O. Waters, Attorney at Law: Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,
v.
John O. Waters, Respondent

ATTORNEY disciplinary proceeding.

OPINION

PER CURIAM.

[¶1] This is a reciprocal discipline matter. On November 20, 2015, the Office of Lawyer [367 Wis.2d 280] Regulation (OLR) filed an amended complaint and motion pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 22.22,[1] requesting

Page 146

that this court suspend the license of Attorney John O. Waters for a period of three years as [367 Wis.2d 281] reciprocal discipline identical to that imposed by the State of Michigan Attorney Discipline Board.[2]

[¶2] Attorney Waters was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 2002. He is also admitted to practice law in Michigan. Attorney Waters' Wisconsin law license is currently suspended for non-compliance with continuing legal education reporting requirements, failure to pay State Bar of Wisconsin dues, and failure to submit the required trust account certification to the State Bar.

[¶3] The OLR's amended complaint noted that on June 19, 2013, the State of Michigan Attorney Discipline Board suspended Attorney Waters' Michigan law license for three years, with a retroactive commencement of September 14, 2012, based on a consent stipulation consolidating multiple proceedings. Restitution and conditions were also imposed.

[¶4] The following facts are taken from the documents attached to the OLR's amended complaint relating [367 Wis.2d 282] to the Michigan disciplinary proceedings. The Michigan suspension was based on Attorney Waters' September 14, 2012 conviction for felony drug offenses, as well as a disciplinary complaint comprised of three separate counts of professional misconduct. These included: neglect of a legal matter entrusted to him, in violation of Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) 1.1(c); failing to act with reasonable diligence, in violation of MRPC 1.3; failing to adequately communicate with his client, in violation of MRPC 1.4(a); failing to refund unearned fees or release the client file upon being discharged from the representation of a client, in violation of MRPC 1.16(d); engaging in conduct prejudicial to the proper administration of justice, in violation of MRPC 8.4(c) and Michigan Court Rule (MCR) 9.104(1); engaging in conduct which exposes the legal profession or the courts to obloquy, contempt, censure, or reproach, in violation of MCR 9.104(2); engaging in conduct contrary to justice, ethics, or good morals, in violation of MCR 9.104(3); intentionally failing to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority, in violation of MRPC 8.1(a)(2); and failing to answer a request for investigation, in violation of MCR 9.104(7) and MCR 9.113(A) and (B)(2).

[¶5] The OLR noted that Attorney Waters failed to notify the OLR of the Michigan suspension within 20 days of the effective date of the order, as required under SCR 22.22(1).

[¶6] The OLR asks this court to suspend Attorney Waters' Wisconsin law license for three years as discipline reciprocal to that imposed in Michigan, to order him to comply with Michigan's order of restitution, with conditions, and to impose costs.

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[¶7] On November 24, 2015, this court directed Attorney Waters to inform the court in writing within [367 Wis.2d 283] 20 days of any claim by him, predicated upon the grounds set forth in SCR 22.22(3), that the imposition of discipline reciprocal to that imposed in Michigan would be unwarranted, and of the factual basis for any such claim. No response was received.

[¶8] Under SCR 22.22(3), in reciprocal discipline matters, this court shall impose the identical discipline unless one of the exceptions enumerated in the rule is shown. There is no indication that any of those exceptions apply in this case. Therefore, we impose discipline identical to that imposed by the State of Michigan Attorney Discipline Board.

[¶9] We also agree that Attorney Waters shall pay the full costs of this proceeding. Attorney Waters has not identified any factors that would justify a reduction in costs. See SCR 22.24(1m). He is also directed to comply with the restitution order imposed by the State of Michigan Attorney Discipline Board. Grievance ...


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