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In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Lemanski

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

February 1, 2017

In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against David A. Lemanski, Attorney at Law:
David A. Lemanski, Respondent. Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,

         ATTORNEY disciplinary proceeding. Attorney publicly reprimanded.

          PER CURIAM.

         ¶1 We review the report of Referee John Nicholas Schweitzer, which concluded that Attorney David A. Lemanski had committed three counts of professional misconduct and recommended (1) that the court publicly reprimand Attorney Lemanski, (2) that Attorney Lemanski's continued practice of law be conditioned on his payment of a sanction imposed by the Grant County circuit court, and (3) that Attorney Lemanski be ordered to pay the costs of this proceeding, which were $1, 192.03 as of September 19, 2016. Because no appeal of this report has been filed, our review of this matter proceeds pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 22.17(2).[1] Ultimately, we conclude that a public reprimand and the imposition of a condition on Attorney Lemanski's practice of law in this state are appropriate forms of discipline in this matter. We further determine that Attorney Lemanski should be required to pay the full costs of this proceeding.

         ¶2 Attorney Lemanski was admitted to the practice of law in this state in October 2002. He most recently practiced law in Dubuque, Iowa.

         ¶3 Attorney Lemanski has been the subject of professional discipline in this state on one prior occasion. In March 2015 this court suspended his license to practice law in Wisconsin for a period of 60 days, as discipline reciprocal to that imposed by the Supreme Court of Iowa. In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Lemanski, 2015 WI 10, 360 Wis.2d 643, 858 N.W.2d 696. It does not appear that Attorney Lemanski's Wisconsin license was reinstated following that disciplinary suspension. There is no evidence that Attorney Lemanski complied with the applicable reinstatement requirements of SCR 22.28(2), including the filing of an affidavit with the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) showing full compliance with all of the terms and conditions of this court's suspension order. In addition, Attorney Lemanski's license is also subject to two other suspensions. First, in October 2015 Attorney Lemanski's license was administratively suspended due to his failure to pay bar dues and assessments and his failure to complete the trust account certification. Second, on November 4, 2015, this court temporarily suspended Attorney Lemanski's license due to his willful failure to cooperate with a grievance investigation conducted by the OLR. Office of Lawyer Regulation v. Lemanski, No. 2015XX1279-D, unpublished order (S.Ct. November 4, 2015).

         ¶4 The OLR commenced this action with the filing of a complaint alleging three counts of professional misconduct. Attorney Lemanski filed an answer admitting all of the allegations of the complaint. Consequently, the referee granted the OLR's motion for judgment on the pleadings. While Attorney Lemanski admitted the allegations of misconduct, he did not agree to the level of discipline sought by the OLR. As it had requested in its complaint, the OLR urged the referee to recommend the imposition of a public reprimand. Attorney Lemanski, on the other hand, asked that the reprimand be private in nature. As noted above, the referee agreed with the OLR that a public reprimand was the appropriate level of discipline.

         ¶5 Given Attorney Lemanski's admissions in his answer, the referee used the allegations of the OLR's complaint as his findings of fact. They are summarized below.

         ¶6 Counts 1 and 2 of the OLR's complaint relate to Attorney Lemanski's representation of S.K. in a legal separation proceeding. S.K. retained Attorney Lemanski in September 2014. In late November 2014 he informed Attorney Lemanski that he was terminating his services.

         ¶7 Attorney Lemanski did not notify opposing counsel that his representation of S.K. had been terminated. Accordingly, in early January 2015 opposing counsel sent a notice of deposition of S.K. to Attorney Lemanski, assuming that Attorney Lemanski was still representing S.K. Because Attorney Lemanski failed to forward the notice to him, S.K. did not appear at the deposition.

         ¶8 On January 29, 2015, opposing counsel filed a motion to compel S.K.'s deposition and for other relief. On February 11, 2015, Attorney Lemanski formally withdrew as S.K.'s counsel.

         ¶9 On February 12, 2015, the judge in S.K.'s proceeding ordered Attorney Lemanski to pay $1, 471.50 to the opposing party as reimbursement for its fees and costs related to the missed deposition and other missed discovery deadlines. Attorney Lemanski failed to pay the fees and costs as ordered.

         ¶10 In June 2015 the OLR sent a written notice to Attorney Lemanski advising him that it was investigating his conduct in the representation of S.K. and directing him to provide a response by July 27, 2015. On July 24, 2015, Attorney Lemanski asked for and was orally granted an extension of time until August 17, 2015, to submit his written response to the grievance. He was told that he should call the OLR if he needed more time to respond. Attorney Lemanski, however, did not submit a response nor did he ask for a further extension of time.

         ¶11 Consequently, on August 24, 2015, the OLR sent Attorney Lemanski a second letter requesting a response by September 4, 2015. Attorney Lemanski received the OLR's letter, but failed to respond.

         ¶12 In September 2015 the OLR moved the court for the temporary suspension of Attorney Lemanski's license under SCR 22.03(4) due to his willful failure to cooperate with the OLR's investigation. This court issued an order directing Attorney Lemanski to show cause why his license should not be temporarily suspended, but he did not respond to the order. Ultimately, on November 4, 2015, this court ...

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