In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against James Toran, Attorney at Law:
James Toran, Respondent-Appellant. Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant-Respondent,
PROCEEDINGS AGAINST TORAN
ARGUMENT: January 17, 2018
the respondent-appellant, there was a brief filed and an oral
argument by Michael L. Chernin and Law Office of Michael L.
the complainant-respondent, there was a brief filed and oral
argument by Gregg Herman on behalf of the Office of Lawyer
disciplinary proceeding. Attorney's license suspended.
Attorney James Toran appeals a report filed by Referee John
A. Fiorenza concluding that Attorney Toran committed three
counts of professional misconduct and recommending that
Attorney Toran should be ordered to pay restitution and that
his license to practice law in Wisconsin be suspended for one
year. Attorney Toran entered into a stipulation whereby he
admitted to the alleged misconduct and agrees to pay
restitution. He argues that a lesser sanction is warranted.
We adopt the referee's findings of fact, conclusions of
law, and recommendation regarding restitution, but we
conclude that a 60-day suspension of Attorney Toran's
license to practice law is a sufficient sanction for his
misconduct. As is our usual practice, we also agree that
Attorney Toran should be required to pay the full costs of
this proceeding, which are $2, 188.05 as of February 6, 2018.
Attorney Toran was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in
1983. He practices criminal law in Milwaukee. This is his
fifth disciplinary proceeding.
In 1989, we suspended Attorney Toran's license for six
months because Attorney Toran arranged to receive cocaine as
payment of a portion of legal fees he charged to represent a
criminal client. In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against
Toran, 151 Wis.2d 194, 443 N.W.2d 927 (1989) . He was
charged and convicted of possession of cocaine and received
two years of probation. Id.
In 1991, Attorney Toran received a consensual public
reprimand for misconduct committed in two client matters.
Public Reprimand of James E. Toran, No. 1991-13 (electronic
copy available at https://compendium.wicourts.gov/app/raw/
000288.html). In the first matter, a client retained Attorney
Toran to represent him on a speeding and drunk driving
charge. Attorney Toran failed to show up for a court hearing
without formal notice to the court and with only five minutes
notice to his client. The client promptly discharged him and,
although Attorney Toran agreed to return $350 of the $500
retainer to the client, he failed to do so.
In the second matter, a woman retained Attorney Toran
following her arrest on a drunk driving charge. She had been
offered a plea deal but Attorney Toran told her that she had
a good case. She paid Attorney Toran a $500 retainer and, on
Attorney Toran's advice, drove 200 miles to take
photographs of the area where she had been driving to use as
evidence at trial. After several delays, Attorney Toran
accepted a plea deal for her without her consent. Believing
she was going to trial, she tried to contact Attorney Toran
without success. She terminated representation and, when she
tried to discuss a refund, Attorney Toran cancelled the
meeting and subsequently failed to respond to her telephone
calls or to a certified letter. During the investigation
Attorney Toran agreed to refund her $500 retainer, but failed
to do so.
Attorney Toran received a consensual private reprimand in
On November 3, 2012, Attorney Toran received another
consensual public reprimand based on misconduct in three
client matters. Public Reprimand of James E. Toran, No.
2012-15 (electronic copy available at
Attorney Toran failed to provide a client with a written fee
agreement, in violation of SCR 20:1.5(b) (1) . With respect
to the second client, Attorney Toran again failed to provide
the client with a written fee agreement and, despite repeated
requests, also failed to provide the client with a copy of
discovery in the case, in violation of SCR 20:1.4 (a) (4) .
Attorney Toran also falsely told the Office of Lawyer
Regulation's (OLR) investigators that he had visited this
client in jail. In the third client ...