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In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Blessinger

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

December 21, 2017

In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Jeffrey M. Blessinger, Attorney at Law:
v.
Jeffrey M. Blessinger, Respondent. Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,

         ATTORNEY disciplinary proceeding. Attorney's license revoked.

          PER CURIAM.

         ¶1 Attorney Jeffrey M. Blessinger has filed a petition for the consensual revocation of his license to practice law in Wisconsin pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 22.19.[1] Attorney Blessinger's petition states that he cannot successfully defend against the allegations of professional misconduct arising out of seven separate Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) investigations concerning his conduct. An OLR summary of those investigations and of the potential allegations of professional misconduct is attached to Attorney Blessinger's petition as Appendix A.

         ¶2 Attorney Blessinger was admitted to the practice of law in Wisconsin in 1996. He practices family law in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Attorney Blessinger has not previously been the subject of professional discipline. However, his law license is currently administratively suspended for failure to pay state bar dues, failure to comply with mandatory continuing legal education requirements, and failure to comply with trust account certification requirements. In addition, on June 12, 2017, this court temporarily suspended Attorney Blessinger for failure to cooperate with an OLR disciplinary investigation into this misconduct. His law license remains suspended.

         ¶3 The OLR summary attached to Attorney Blessinger's petition for consensual revocation describes investigations into potential ethical violations involving seven different client matters from 2013 to 2017.

         Matter of D.H.

         ¶4 On March 17, 2017, D.H. retained Attorney Blessinger and paid him $2, 000 in cash to represent D.H. in a family law matter. Attorney Blessinger failed to enter an appearance in D.H.'s case. D.H. has not heard from or been able to reach Attorney Blessinger since March 17, 2017, and there is no evidence that Attorney Blessinger performed any legal services for D.H. Attorney Blessinger has not refunded any of the advanced fee paid by D.H.

         ¶5 The OLR's summary indicates that Attorney Blessinger's handling of D.H.'s matter involves potential violations of SCR 20:1.3, [2] SCR 20:1.4(a), [3] SCR 20:1.5(b)(1) and (2), [4] and SCR 20:1.16(d).[5] Further, Attorney Blessinger has not cooperated in the OLR's investigation, implicating SCR 22.03 (2), [6] SCR 22.03(6), [7] and SCR 20:8.4(h).[8]

         ¶6 With respect to restitution, Attorney Blessinger has not refunded any of the advanced fee paid by D.H., and the OLR recommends and Attorney Blessinger agrees that the court should order Attorney Blessinger to pay $2, 000 in restitution to D.H.

         Matter of R.K.

         ¶7 In November 2016, R.K. retained Attorney Blessinger to represent her in a family law matter. A third party, A.M., paid Attorney Blessinger $2, 000 to represent R.K. Attorney Blessinger promptly cashed the check, but failed to enter an appearance in R.K.'s case. A.M. has not heard from or been able to reach Attorney Blessinger since November 2, 2016. R.K. has not heard from or been able to reach Attorney Blessinger since March 15, 2017. There is no evidence that Attorney Blessinger performed any legal work for R.K. Attorney Blessinger has not refunded any of the advanced fee paid on behalf of R.K.

         ¶8 The OLR's summary indicates that Attorney Blessinger's handling of R.K.'s matter involves potential violations of SCR 20:1.3, SCR 20:1.4(a), SCR 20:1.5(b)(1) and (2), and SCR 20:1.16(d). Further, Attorney Blessinger has not cooperated in the investigation, implicating SCR 22.03(2), SCR 22.03(6) and SCR 20:8.4(h).

         ¶9 With respect to restitution, Attorney Blessinger has not refunded any of the advanced fee paid on behalf of R.K. and the OLR recommends and Attorney Blessinger agrees that this court should order Attorney Blessinger to pay $2, 000 in restitution to A.M.

         Matter of T.L.

         ¶10 A.M. who paid Attorney Blessinger an advanced fee to represent R.K., also paid him $3, 000 on September 16, 2016 to represent T.L. in a Sauk County matter. Attorney Blessinger cashed the check but there is no evidence that he performed any legal services for T.L. A.M. has not heard from or been able to reach Attorney Blessinger since November 2, 2016. Attorney Blessinger has not refunded any of the advanced fee paid by A.M. for representation of T.L.

         ¶11 The OLR's summary indicates that Attorney Blessinger's handling of A.M.'s matter involves potential violations of SCR 20:1.15(b) (1)[9] and SCR 20:1.15 (e) (1) .[10] Further, Attorney Blessinger has not cooperated in the investigation, implicating S.C. 22.03(2), SCR 22.03(6) and SCR 20:8.4(h).

         ¶12 With respect to restitution, Attorney Blessinger has not refunded any of the advanced fee paid by A.M. and the OLR recommends and Attorney Blessinger agrees that this court should order him to pay $3, 000 in restitution to A.M.

         Matter of A.N.

         ¶13 In May 2013, A.N. retained Attorney Blessinger to represent her in a divorce. Attorney Blessinger entered an appearance in May 2013 and A.N.'s judgment of divorce was entered in February 2015.

         ¶14 After the divorce order issued, motions were filed pertaining to a quit claim deed on the marital property in favor of A.N. Attorney Blessinger was supposed to facilitate the signing and filing of the quit claim deed. He faxed A.N a copy of the quit claim deed, but did not file it. A.N. has been unable to reach Attorney Blessinger by phone or email since July of 2016 and ultimately handled this filing herself.

         ¶15 In September 2016, opposing counsel filed a series of motions. Attorney Blessinger was still A.N.'s attorney of record and A.N. sent him numerous emails and made numerous phone calls with no response. Attorney Blessinger never responded to the motions and again, A.N. was forced to represent herself. At some point in September 2016, Attorney Blessinger contacted A.N. claiming a family emergency meant that he would not be able to continue to represent her; he told her to hire other counsel, however, he did not timely file a motion to withdraw as counsel.

         ¶16 On October 28, 2016, after the OLR contacted him regarding this grievance, Attorney Blessinger told the OLR that A.N. had agreed to withdraw her grievance. This was not true. Attorney Blessinger finally sent A.N. a stipulation and order for withdrawal, and the court permitted him to withdraw on December 1, 2016.

         ¶17 On December 29, 2016, A.N. asked Attorney Blessinger for a copy of her file for a January 30, 2017 hearing. He did not respond. A.N. eventually obtained her file from the attorney representing Attorney Blessinger in the grievance investigation.

         ¶18 The OLR's summary indicates that Attorney Blessinger's handling of A.N.'s matter involves potential violations of SCR 20:1.3, SCR 20:1.4(a), SCR 20:1.16(d), and SCR 20:8.4(c).[11] Further, Attorney Blessinger has not cooperated in the investigation, implicating SCR 22.03(2), SCR 22.03(6) and SCR 20:8.4(h).

         ¶19 With respect to possible restitution, the OLR has indicated that the only billing statement it has in this matter appears to be for legal services that Attorney Blessinger rendered to A.N. from early June through July 11, 2016. It shows a total of $7, 560 billed.

         ¶20 A.N. stated that she met with Attorney Blessinger sometime after October 28, 2016 and paid her bill in full, paying a total of $14, 479.56. She says that Attorney ...


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