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In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against James Eric Goldmann Attorney at Law

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

July 13, 2018

In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against James Eric Goldmann, Attorney at Law:
v.
James Eric Goldmann, Respondent. Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS AGAINST GOLDMANN

         ATTORNEY disciplinary proceeding. Attorney's license revoked.

          PER CURIAM

         ¶1 We review a stipulation filed by the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and Attorney James Eric Goldmann pursuant to SCR 22.12.[1] In the stipulation, Attorney Goldmann does not contest that he committed all 38 acts of professional misconduct alleged by the OLR. He also does not contest that the revocation of his Wisconsin law license is appropriate discipline for his misconduct, along with a requirement that he comply with a monetary judgment obtained against him by a client regarding unearned advance fees.

         ¶2 After fully reviewing the matter, we approve the stipulation and revoke Attorney Goldmann's Wisconsin law license. His transgressions leave us no choice: Attorney Goldmann has shown himself to be unwilling or unable to conform his conduct to the standards that are required to practice law in this state. We also adopt the stipulated requirement that he comply with his client's monetary judgment against him. Finally, because this matter is being resolved without the appointment of a referee, and because the OLR has not sought costs, we impose no costs.

         ¶3 Attorney Goldmann was admitted to the State Bar of Wisconsin in 2013. His most recent address on file with the State Bar of Wisconsin is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to the parties' stipulation, Attorney Goldmann currently lives in Canada, but made use of a general delivery address in Milwaukee and an email account to receive the case documents in this matter.

         ¶4 Attorney Goldmann's license to practice law in Wisconsin is currently suspended. On June 15, 2017, this court temporarily suspended his law license for his willful failure to cooperate with the OLR investigation of this matter. In October 2017, his law license was administratively suspended for failure to pay bar dues and assessments and failure to file the required trust account certification. The parties report that Attorney Goldmann abandoned the practice of law in mid-2017.

         ¶5 Attorney Goldmann's work in ten client matters gave rise to all but one of the misconduct claims in this case. It is not necessary to describe the particular factual allegations of Attorney Goldmann's misconduct in each client matter; a synopsis will suffice. Beginning in 2015 and continuing into 2017, Attorney Goldmann effectively abandoned the ten clients identified in the OLR's complaint: M.G. (Counts 1-4); S.M.C. (Counts 5-7); A.L.R. (Counts 8-11); E.G.H. (Counts 12-16); C.H. (Counts 17-21); R.C.M. (Counts 22-23); R.D.S. (Counts 24-26); A.P. (Counts 27-30); S.D.Y. (Counts 31-33); and M.D.C. (Counts 34-37). Attorney Goldmann undertook to represent these clients in a variety of matters--criminal cases, civil cases, parental rights cases, etc.--but he failed to take necessary actions on their behalf. Among other things, he failed to attend court hearings; failed to file crucial documents; failed to comply with court orders; failed to forward his clients' case files to the clients or successor counsel; failed to refund unearned advance fees; failed to be forthright about his actions; and failed to respond to his clients' requests for information or otherwise keep them updated on their cases. Once the aggrieved clients contacted the OLR, he failed to cooperate with the OLR's investigation.

         ¶6 The remaining misconduct claim in this case (Count 38) concerns certain false and misleading information that Attorney Goldmann gave his employing law firm about his level of professional experience and success. The firm included this information on its website, with Attorney Goldmann's knowledge and understanding.

         ¶7 Based on the foregoing, the OLR complaint alleged, and the parties later stipulated, as follows:

• Contrary to SCR 20:1.3, [2] Attorney Goldmann failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client in the following client matters: M.G. (Count 1), A.L.R. (Count 8), E.G.H. (Count 12), C.H. (Count 17), R.C.M. (Count 22), A.P. (Count 27), S.D.Y. (Count 31), and M.D.C. (Count 34).
• Contrary to SCR 20:1.4(a)(3)[3] and (4), [4] Attorney Goldmann failed to keep the following clients reasonably informed about the status of their matters and failed to promptly comply with the clients' reasonable requests for information: A.L.R. (Count 9), E.G.H. (Count 13), C.H. (Count 18), A.P. (Count 28), S.D.Y. (Count 32), and M.D.C. (Count 35).
• Contrary to SCR 20:1.5(b)(1)[5] and (2), [6] Attorney Goldmann failed to communicate to R.D.S. in writing the scope of his representation, the basis or rate of his fees and expenses, or the purpose and effect of the advance fee paid to him (Count 24).
• Contrary to SCR 20:1.5(c), [7] Attorney Goldmann failed to enter into a written contingent fee agreement with E.G.H. (Count 14).
• Contrary to SCR 20:1.16(d), [8] Attorney Goldmann failed to timely return client files, or refund unearned fees, or otherwise take steps to protect client interests during his representation of M.G. (Count 2), A.L.R. (Count 10), C.H. (Count 19), A.P. (Count 29), and M.D.C. (Count 36).
• Contrary to SCR 20:3.3(a)(1), [9] Attorney Goldmann knowingly made a false statement of fact to a tribunal during his representation of S.M.C. (Count 5).
• Contrary to SCR 20:3.4(c), [10] Attorney Goldmann knowingly and without justification disobeyed a court's order during his work on the E.G.H. matter (Count 15).
• Contrary to SCR 20:3.4(d), [11] Attorney Goldmann failed to make a reasonably diligent effort to comply with a legally proper discovery request during his work on the C.H. matter (Count 20).
• Contrary to SCR 20:7.1(a) and (b), [12] Attorney Goldmann made false or misleading communications about himself and his ...

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