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In re Adent

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

March 29, 2016

In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Leonard G. Adent, Attorney at Law: Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,
Leonard G. Adent, Respondent

          Attorney publicly reprimanded.


         [367 Wis.2d 373] ATTORNEY disciplinary proceeding.

          PER CURIAM

          [¶1] We review a stipulation pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 22.12 between the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and Attorney Leonard G. Adent. In the stipulation, Attorney Adent agrees with the OLR's position that his misconduct warrants the imposition of a public reprimand. Attorney Adent also agrees with the OLR's position that various conditions be imposed upon his continued practice of law in Wisconsin.

          [¶2] After fully reviewing the stipulation and the facts of this matter, we accept the stipulation and impose the public reprimand jointly requested by the parties. We further find it appropriate to impose the recommended conditions upon Attorney Adent's practice of law. In light of the parties' stipulation and the fact that no referee needed to be appointed, we impose no costs upon Attorney Adent.

          [¶3] Attorney Adent was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1967 and practices in Pewaukee. Attorney Adent's disciplinary history consists of a 2012 consensual public reprimand for a conviction of second offense operating while intoxicated (OWI) and for failure to provide competent or diligent representation to a client, failure to obey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal, and failure to make a reasonably diligent effort to comply with a defendant's discovery request. In addition, Attorney Adent failed to report his OWI conviction to the OLR or to the clerk of this court, and he failed to fully answer the OLR's inquiries during the OLR's investigation. Public Reprimand of Leonard G. Adent, 2012-19.

          [367 Wis.2d 374] [¶4] On October 9, 2015, the OLR filed a complaint alleging five counts of professional misconduct against Attorney Adent.

Page 365

On October 26, 2015, Attorney Adent entered into a stipulation whereby he agrees that the factual allegations contained in the OLR's complaint are accurate and that he committed the professional misconduct charged in the complaint. The stipulation states that Attorney Adent fully understands the nature of the misconduct allegations against him, his right to contest those allegations, and the ramifications that would follow from this court's imposition of the stipulated level of discipline. The stipulation indicates that Attorney Adent understands his right to counsel. He verifies that he is entering into the stipulation knowingly and voluntarily and that his entry into the stipulation represents his decision not to contest this matter.

          [¶5] The OLR's complaint alleged that, since at least 2009, Attorney Adent maintained the " Leonard G. Adent Attorney at Law IOLTA Trust Account" at the Waukesha State Bank. Attorney Adent used the trust account for, among other things, holding funds of clients and/or third parties. Until late March 2014, Attorney Adent had neither a business bank account nor a personal bank account. He retained earned fees in his trust account and used the trust account to pay personal expenses. In July 2013, the Waukesha State Bank advised Attorney Adent that it could no longer cash personal checks made payable to Attorney Adent and that he must open a personal account. Attorney Adent opened a new account in March 2014. The account was identified as " Mr. Leonard G. Adent" without reference to " Attorney," " Law Office," " Business Account," " Office Account," " Operating Account," [367 Wis.2d 375] or similar words. Attorney Adent informed the OLR that the account was a personal account and not a business account.

          [¶6] The OLR's complaint also alleged that on November 14, 2013, Attorney Adent made a cash deposit of $260 into the trust account and failed to record any information identifying the client or matter on the deposit slip, and he informed the OLR that he was unsure as to which client the deposit related. Attorney Adent held a $2,735 fee in his trust account and never withdrew it. On January 9, 2014, Attorney Adent deposited a $1,500 loan from T.D., a client who Attorney Adent was representing in a foreclosure action, into his trust account. Attorney Adent failed to record any information identifying the client or matter on the deposit slip. The terms of the loan transaction were not transmitted in writing to T.D., nor did Attorney Adent advise T.D. in writing of the desirability of seeking independent legal counsel. T.D. did not give his informed written consent to the essential terms of the loan transaction. On or about April 26, 2014, after the OLR had inquired about the matter, and well over three months following the loan, T.D. signed a written statement and promissory note with Attorney Adent. The note was backdated to January 8, 2014.

          [¶7] On February 10, 2011, Attorney Adent was convicted of an OWI (second) conviction in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. On April 17, 2014, a Door County Sheriff's Department deputy observed a vehicle operated by Attorney Adent cross the center line and initiated a traffic stop of the vehicle. Attorney Adent was placed under arrest for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant (third offense). Attorney Adent reported his arrest to the OLR on July 8, 2014. On November 25, 2014, pursuant to a [367 Wis.2d 376] guilty plea, Attorney Adent was convicted of misdemeanor OWI (third), sentenced to 150 days in jail with Huber privileges, and fined, and his driver license was revoked for 33 months.

          [¶8] The OLR's complaint alleged that Attorney Adent engaged in the following counts of misconduct:

Page 366

[Count One] By receiving trust funds but failing to maintain a business account, Adent violated SCR 20:1.15(e)(8).[1]
[Count Two] By commingling his personal funds with client funds held in his Trust Account, for purposes other than paying monthly bank account service charges, Adent violated SCR 20:1.15(b)(3).[2]
[Count Three] By accepting a $1,500 loan from a client in January 2014, without any required written disclosures or the client's informed consent and no documentation of the transaction other than a back-dated promissory note, Adent violated SCR 20:1.8(a).[3]
[367 Wis.2d 377] [Count Four] By failing to maintain a transaction register, individual client ledgers, a ledger for account fees and charges, by disbursing checks from his trust account without identifying the client matter and the reason for the disbursement on the memo line or by using the memo line to attribute checks to a client matter when actually disbursing his personal funds, by failing to record the client or matter associated with each deposit item on his deposit slips, and by failing to perform monthly reconciliations of his IOLTA checking account, Adent violated SCR 20:1.15(f)(1).[4]

Page 367

[367 Wis.2d 379] [Count Five] By engaging in conduct leading to a criminal conviction of OWI (3rd), Adent ...

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