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In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against White

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

October 22, 2019

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

         Attorney disciplinary proceeding. Attorney's license suspended.

          PER CURIAM.

         ¶1 This is a reciprocal discipline matter. On August 7, 2019, the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) filed a two-count complaint against Attorney Jeffrey P. White. Count one alleged that by virtue of Attorney White's recent nine-month license suspension and public reprimand by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Attorney White should be subject to reciprocal discipline in Wisconsin pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 22.22. Count two alleged that by failing to notify the OLR of his discipline in Maine within 20 days of its effective date, Attorney White violated SCR 22.22(1), [1] After service of the complaint, the parties stipulated to the imposition of a reciprocal nine-month suspension. We approve the stipulation, and we therefore order a nine-month suspension of Attorney White's Wisconsin law license.

         ¶2 Attorney White's law license history is as follows. He was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1986 and in Maine in 1988. He has no prior Wisconsin disciplinary history. His Wisconsin law license was administratively suspended in October 2010 for failure to pay State Bar dues and failure to submit the required trust account certification to the State Bar. His license remains administratively suspended.

         ¶3 In October 2018, a single justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court entered an order publicly reprimanding Attorney White and imposing a nine-month suspension of his Maine law license for four counts of misconduct arising out of four client matters. Attorney White appealed, and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in a June 11, 2019 decision.

         ¶4 According to the allegations in the OLR's complaint and the Maine disciplinary records attached to the complaint, Attorney White's misconduct in Maine included two client matters in which, among other things, Attorney White failed to provide legal services; failed to properly communicate with his clients; and returned unearned client funds only after the clients had filed grievance complaints. In a third matter, Attorney White presented to the bankruptcy court a purported conformed copy of his client's affidavit. The client then testified at a hearing that although she had agreed to the content of the affidavit in a telephone conversation with Attorney White, she had never received, reviewed, or signed a physical copy of the affidavit. In a fourth matter, Attorney White misrepresented to the bankruptcy court the amount of his agreed retainer and anticipated fee, and transferred retainer funds into his operating account instead of his trust account, without obtaining bankruptcy court approval or notifying the United States Bankruptcy Trustee. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court stated that, by his conduct, Attorney White violated Rules 1.3; 1.4(a)(2), (3), and (4); 1.5(i); 1.15(b); 1.16(d); 3.3(a); 3.4(b); 4.1(a); 5.3; and 8.4(c) of the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct.

         ¶5 Attorney White did not notify the OLR of his discipline in Maine within 20 days of its effective date.

         ¶6 On September 9, 2019, after the OLR's complaint had been served on Attorney White but before a referee had been appointed, Attorney White entered into a stipulation with the OLR whereby he agreed that the facts alleged in the OLR's complaint supported a nine-month suspension of his Wisconsin law license as reciprocal discipline to that imposed by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The parties jointly maintained that it was unnecessary for this court to impose a public reprimand in addition to a nine-month suspension, as the Maine Supreme Judicial Court did, given that the suspension will be a matter of public record.

         ¶7 Supreme Court Rule 22.22(3) states as follows:

(3) The supreme court shall impose the identical discipline or license suspension unless one or more of the following is present:
(a) The procedure in the other jurisdiction was so lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process.
(b) There was such an infirmity of proof establishing the misconduct or medical incapacity that the supreme court could not accept as final the conclusion in respect to the misconduct or medical incapacity.
(c) The misconduct justifies substantially different discipline in this state.

         ¶8 Attorney White does not claim that any of the defenses found in SCR 22.22(3) apply. Attorney White further states that the stipulation did not result from plea bargaining; that he understands the allegations against him; that he understands the ramifications should the court impose the stipulated level of discipline; that he understands his right to contest this matter; that he understands his right to consult with counsel; that his entry into the stipulation is made knowingly and voluntarily; and that his entry into the ...


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