In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Diann P. Burton, Attorney at Law:
Diann P. Burton, Respondent. Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,
PROCEEDINGS AGAINST BURTON
disciplinary proceeding. Attorney publicly reprimanded.
We review Referee Kim M. Peterson's recommendation that
the court declare Attorney Diann P. Burton in default and
publicly reprimand her for professional misconduct in
connection with her practice of law while her law license was
suspended, and her improper use of a firm name for her solo
practice. The referee also recommended that Attorney Burton
pay the full costs of this proceeding, which total $533 as of
January 15, 2019.
Because no appeal has been filed, we review the referee's
report pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 22.17(2),
After conducting our independent review of the matter, we
agree with the referee that, based on Attorney Burton's
failure to answer the complaint filed by the Office of Lawyer
Regulation (OLR), the OLR is entitled to a default judgment.
We also agree with the referee that Attorney Burton's
professional misconduct warrants a public reprimand. Finally,
we agree with the referee that Attorney Burton should be
ordered to pay the full costs of the proceeding.
Attorney Burton was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in
1997. Her law license is currently subject to administrative
and temporary suspensions. On October 31, 2016, Attorney
Burton's law license was administratively suspended due
to her failure to pay mandatory bar dues and her failure to
file a trust account certification. On May 22, 2018, her law
license was administratively suspended due to her failure to
comply with continuing legal education requirements. On July
10, 2018, her law license was temporarily suspended due to
her failure to cooperate in an OLR investigation unrelated to
the misconduct at issue in this case.
On July 26, 2018, the OLR filed the current complaint against
Attorney Burton. The complaint alleges four counts of
professional wrongdoing. The following facts are taken from
the OLR's complaint.
In August 2014, M.B. and Y.B. hired Attorney Burton to file a
petition for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and paid her a $1, 000
flat fee for her representation. Attorney Burton continued to
provide legal advice to M.B. and Y.B. after her law license
was administratively suspended in October 2016, though she
never filed a bankruptcy petition on their behalf.
In addition, at the time of her administrative license
suspension in October 2016, Attorney Burton had at least
eight open bankruptcy cases pending in the United States
Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
Attorney Burton did not notify her clients or the bankruptcy
court of the suspension of her license and continued as
counsel of record in the pending cases while her license was
suspended. Legal work that Burton performed while her law
license was suspended included:
• filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in February
2017 on behalf of a client, and representing that client
through the bankruptcy discharge granted in May of 2017;
• filing amended Chapter 13 plans;
• filing responses to and stipulations resolving
trustees' motions to dismiss; and
• filing a petition for voluntary amortization of debts
in February 2017 on behalf of another client in a Wisconsin
Finally, while operating as a solo practitioner, Attorney
Burton used a law firm name and letterhead that listed
several partners, one of whom had a suspended law license.
The OLR's complaint alleged the following four counts of
misconduct arising out of the matters described above:
• By practicing law while her license was suspended,
Attorney Burton violated SCR 10.03(6) and SCR 22.26(2),