In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Patrick J. Hudec, Attorney at Law:
Patrick J. Hudec, Respondent. Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,
ATTORNEY disciplinary proceeding. Attorney's license
We review Referee Richard M. Esenberg's report and
recommendation concluding that Attorney Patrick J. Hudec
violated the rules of professional conduct in connection with
his representation of two clients, D.B. and N.K. The referee
recommended that this court impose a 60-day suspension of
Attorney Hudec's law license and condition Attorney
Hudec's continued practice of law on his satisfaction of
a monetary judgment entered in N.K.'s civil lawsuit
against him. We adopt the referee's findings of fact,
conclusions of law, and recommendation regarding discipline.
We impose the full costs in this matter, which total
$4,319.04 as of January 24, 2019.
Attorney Hudec was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin on
May 21, 1979. He has a substantial disciplinary history: a
1989 consensual private reprimand; a 1993 consensual private
reprimand; a 2001 consensual private reprimand; a 2008
consensual public reprimand; and a 2014 public reprimand.
On March 22, 2017, the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR)
filed a complaint against Attorney Hudec alleging six counts
of professional misconduct arising out of his representation
of D.B. and N.K. Attorney Hudec moved to dismiss the
complaint on a variety of grounds. This court appointed a
referee, who denied the motion. Attorney Hudec then filed an
answer in which he denied all misconduct.
Attorney Hudec later entered into a stipulation in which he
agreed to plead no contest to the six counts of misconduct
charged in the complaint. Attorney Hudec agreed that the
referee could use the allegations of the complaint as a
factual basis for the referee's determination of
misconduct. The parties stipulated that a 60-day suspension
was appropriate discipline. The parties further stipulated
that, as a condition upon his continued practice of law,
Attorney Hudec must comply with any judgment resulting from a
pending civil case against him brought by N.K. The parties
further agreed that the stipulation was not the result of
plea bargaining; that Attorney Hudec's entry into the
stipulation was knowing and voluntary; and that he understood
the misconduct allegations made in the OLR's complaint,
his right to contest those allegations, his right to consult
with counsel, and the ramifications of his entry into the
In January 2019, the referee filed his report and
recommendation. The referee accepted the parties'
stipulation and found, based on the stipulation, that the
following facts were true.
of D.B. (Counts 1-3)
D.B.'s mother, J.A.R., died in May 2012. In June 2012,
D.B. hired Attorney Hudec to represent her in her capacity as
personal representative for her mother's estate. D.B.
paid Attorney Hudec a $1,500 advanced fee. Attorney Hudec did
not communicate the scope of the representation or the basis
or rate of the fee in writing to D.B. within a reasonable
time of commencing the representation, nor did he provide her
with a written communication explaining the purpose and
effect of the advanced fee.
J.A.R.'s will was admitted to probate. On November 16,
2012, CD., another daughter of J.A.R., filed a claim against
the estate concerning payments made on her mother's
behalf and an asserted interest in a house she had shared
with her mother. Attorney Hudec received a copy of the claim.
Attorney Hudec failed to file an objection to C.D.'s
claim within 60 days as required by Wis. Stat. § 859.33.
He also failed to promptly respond to several of D.B.'s
emails and telephone calls requesting information regarding
the status of the estate proceeding.
On November 6, 2013, nearly a year after CD. filed her claim,
C.D.'s counsel moved for a default judgment on the claim,
as well as for a protective order relating to discovery.
On November 20, 2013, Attorney Hudec filed an objection to
C.D.'s claim, a motion for an extension of time for
objections to claims, and various filings in opposition to
C.D.'s motions for default judgment and for a protective
In a December 23, 2013 order, the circuit court granted
C.D.'s motion for default judgment. The circuit court
also granted C.D.'s requested protective order.
On December 30, 2013, CD. filed a notice of entry of
On January 8, 2014, Attorney Hudec filed a motion for
reconsideration and a "Motion to Reopen Judgment."
The circuit court denied these motions, noting that Attorney
Hudec's failure to timely file an objection to C.D.'s
claim was not the result of excusable neglect, but rather was
part of a pattern of late filings in his handling of the
Attorney Hudec did not timely appeal from the circuit
court's default judgment. He did, however, timely appeal
from the circuit court's order denying the estate's
motions for reconsideration and to "reopen" the
In November 2014, the court of appeals affirmed the circuit
court's order. In doing so, it noted the circuit
court's observation that Attorney Hudec had engaged in a
pattern of missed deadlines for ...