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In re Disciplinary Proceedings against Gonzalez

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

October 20, 2016

In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Ismael Gonzalez, Attorney at Law:
v.
Ismael Gonzalez, Respondent. Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,

         Attorney disciplinary proceeding. Attorney's license suspended.

          PER CURIAM.

         ¶1 This is a reciprocal discipline matter. On May 16, 2016, the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) filed a complaint and motion pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 22.22, [1] requesting this court suspend Attorney Ismael Gonzalez's license to practice law in Wisconsin for a period of one year, as reciprocal discipline identical to that imposed by the Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, and impose costs. Upon our review, we agree that it is appropriate to impose the same one year suspension imposed by the Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, First Judicial Department. We decline to award costs.

         ¶2 Attorney Gonzalez was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1981. Attorney Gonzalez's Wisconsin law license is currently suspended for failure to pay annual bar dues. He was admitted to practice law in New York in 1990 and resides in New York.

         ¶3 The following facts are taken from the documents attached to the OLR's complaint relating to the New York disciplinary proceedings. On August 11, 2015, the New York Appellate Division Supreme Court First Judicial Department suspended Gonzalez's law license for one year, effective September 10, 2015, based upon 12 counts of misconduct involving five clients, violation of escrow rules, and failure to file income tax returns for specific years. Gonzalez's misconduct included: belligerent and verbal abuse towards his client's wife; threatening his client's wife that he would have his client arrested and deported; communicating information to the immigration authorities that he wanted his client arrested and deported; falsely telling the immigration authorities that his client would not appear for his deferred inspection appointment; and intentionally damaging his client during the course of the professional relationship. He also entered into several written retainer agreements that contained a nonrefundable clause, delayed filing a bankruptcy petition for 21 months, and failed to file federal and state personal income tax returns for 2002 through 2007.

         ¶4 The Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, First Judicial Department found that Gonzalez violated the Code of Professional Responsibility by: "conduct adversely reflecting on his fitness as a lawyer, in violation of Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-102(a)(7) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][7]"); "engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation in violation of DR 1- 102(a)(4) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][4]"); "intentionally prejudicing or damaging his client, during the course of the professional relationship, in violation of DR 7-101(a)(3) (22 NYCRR 1200.32[a][3]"); entering into a written retainer agreement with clients that contained a non-refundable fee clause, in violation of Rule 1.5(d)(4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0); neglecting a legal matter entrusted to him, in violation of Rule 1.3(b); causing a cash withdrawal in the amount of $1, 400.00 from his master escrow account, not to a named payee, thereby violating Rule 1.15(e); and engaging in conduct adversely reflecting on his fitness as a lawyer by failing to file federal and state personal income tax returns for the years 2002 through 2007, in violation of DR 1-102(a)(7).

         ¶5 In addition, Gonzalez did not notify the OLR of the New York suspension within 20 days of its effective date.

         ¶6 The OLR complaint alleged that, by virtue of the New York disciplinary one year suspension, Gonzalez is subject to reciprocal discipline in Wisconsin pursuant to SCR 22.22 and that, by failing to notify the OLR of his suspension in New York for professional misconduct within 20 days of the effective date of its imposition, Gonzalez violated SCR 22.22(1).

         ¶7 The OLR asks this court to suspend Attorney Gonzalez's Wisconsin law license for one year as discipline reciprocal to that imposed in New York and to impose costs.

         ¶8 On August 10, 2016, this court directed Attorney Gonzalez to inform the court in writing within 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 New York would be unwarranted, and of the factual basis for any such claim. No response was received.

         ¶9 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 Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, First Judicial Department.

         ¶10 We decline to impose the costs of this proceeding on Attorney Gonzalez. See In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Hooker, 2012 WI 100, ¶26, 343 Wis.2d 397, 816 N.W.2d 310 (noting that in reciprocal discipline cases where a referee is not appointed, costs are generally not imposed as there are no referee expenses and the proceedings are less involved).

         ¶11 IT IS ORDERED that the license of Ismael Gonzalez to practice law in Wisconsin is suspended for a period of one year, effective the date of this order.

         ¶12 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, to the extent he has not already done so, Ismael Gonzalez shall comply with the provisions of SCR 22.26 concerning the duties of a person whose ...


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