In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Raymond M. Clark, Attorney at Law: Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,
Raymond M. Clark, Respondent
Attorney's license suspended.
disciplinary proceeding. suspended .
[¶1] We review the report and recommendation
of Referee Hannah C. Dugan that the license of Raymond M.
Clark be suspended for 120 days for professional misconduct.
The referee also recommends that Attorney Clark pay the full
costs of the proceeding, which are $16,192.21 as of March 29,
2016, and that he be required to take six continuing legal
education credits in trust account management, to be approved
by the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR).
[¶2] After careful review of this matter, we
adopt the referee's findings of fact and conclusions of
law. We agree that a four-month suspension of Attorney
Clark's license is an appropriate sanction for his
misconduct. We also agree that the full costs of the
proceeding should be assessed against Attorney Clark, and we
further agree that Attorney Clark should be required to
obtain six continuing legal education credits in trust
[¶3] Attorney Clark was admitted to practice
law in Wisconsin in 1959. The most recent address furnished
by Attorney Clark to the State Bar of Wisconsin is in
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Attorney Clark has no prior
[¶4] On October 9, 2014, the OLR filed a
complaint alleging that Attorney Clark had engaged in ten
counts of misconduct. Attorney Clark filed an answer to the
complaint on November 17, 2014. The referee was appointed on
December 17, 2014.
[¶5] An evidentiary hearing was held before
the referee on March 5, 2015. At the hearing, the parties
presented a signed stipulation, dated March 2, 2015. As part
of the stipulation, Attorney Clark admitted five counts of
the complaint and entered no contest pleas to four counts.
During the course of the evidentiary hearing, the OLR made a
motion to dismiss count ten of the complaint. In the
stipulation, Attorney Clark agreed that the referee may use
the allegations of the complaint as an adequate factual basis
in the record for a determination of misconduct as set forth
in counts one through nine of the complaint.
[¶6] Counts one through five of the
OLR's complaint arose out of Attorney Clark's
representation of T.C. in Milwaukee County divorce
proceedings. The complaint alleged that in March of 2008, the
Milwaukee County circuit court entered findings of fact,
conclusions of law, and a final judgment in the divorce,
which incorporated by reference all of the terms of a Marital
Settlement Agreement (MSA) signed by T.C. and her husband,
J.C. The MSA listed the marital debts and stated that the
parties were equally liable for their payment. The MSA
provided that T.C.'s share of a retirement account would
be forwarded to Attorney Clark and that Attorney Clark "
shall withhold said monies in order to satisfy
petitioner's [T.C's] financial responsibilities per
the Marital Settlement Agreement. After petitioner's
financial responsibilities have been satisfied in full,
petitioner shall receive the remaining balance."
[¶7] In August 2008, Attorney Clark received
T.C.'s share of the retirement account, totaling
$9,341.84. He deposited that amount into his IOLTA trust
account. Between August 13, 2008 and September 26, 2008,
Attorney Clark disbursed various checks from his trust
account to himself, including $1,710 of the funds on deposit
for T.C. On September 26, 2008, Attorney Clark made a cash
withdrawal in the amount of $1,000 from the funds in his
trust account attributable to his representation of T.C.
[¶8] Although Attorney Clark told T.C. that
he was working on negotiating several of the debts, as of
January 26, 2009, he had not paid any of the creditors T.C.
was obligated to pay pursuant to the MSA.
[¶9] Between January 30, 2009 and March 5,
2009, Attorney Clark disbursed another $1,850 of the
retirement funds to himself. He also disbursed $300 of the
funds to his client. He did not discuss the disbursements
with opposing counsel, seek a modification of the MSA, or
seek the court's authorization for the disbursements.
[¶10] In May 2009, J.C.'s counsel filed
a motion for an order to show cause due to T.C.'s failure
to timely pay her portion of the marital debts. Attorney
Clark filed a cross motion asserting that J.C. had failed to
comply with the law concerning financial disclosures,
disputing that J.C. had paid his share of the debts, and
asserting that J.C. had interfered with IRS refunds. As of
June 1, 2009, at least five debts to be paid by T.C.,
totaling $833.15, remained unpaid, but by this time Attorney
Clark was holding insufficient funds in trust for T.C. to pay
[¶11] At a June 19, 2009 hearing, a
Milwaukee County court commissioner held that she had no
authority other than to enforce the MSA. The commissioner
ordered T.C. to pay her share of the marital debt and ordered
that " any monies in trust  be used for outstanding
bills forthwith." At the hearing, Attorney Clark failed
to advise the court that he had already disbursed $4,360 of
the retirement funds to himself and failed to advise that he
had made other disbursements and that only $59.73 of the
retirement funds remained in his trust account.
[¶12] On July 14, 2009, Attorney Clark
disbursed $600 to himself, exhausting the remaining
retirement funds being held in trust for T.C. and disbursing
funds that belonged to T.C. or others. On August 13, 2009,
Attorney Clark disbursed $50 from his trust account to T.C.
By that date, Attorney Clark was no longer holding any funds
in his trust account attributable to T.C. In February 2010,
Attorney Clark deposited $1,846.05 in his trust account and
identified the deposit as " return of fees" related
to his representation of T.C.
[¶13] The OLR's complaint alleged the
following counts of misconduct with respect to Attorney