Office of Lawyer Regulation v. Naomi E. Soldon

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2012 WI 122 SUPREME COURT CASE NO.: COMPLETE TITLE: OF WISCONSIN 2012AP1777-D In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Naomi E. Soldon, Attorney at Law: Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant, v. Naomi E. Soldon, Respondent. DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS AGAINST SOLDON OPINION FILED: SUBMITTED ON BRIEFS: ORAL ARGUMENT: SOURCE OF APPEAL: COURT: COUNTY: JUDGE: JUSTICES: CONCURRED: DISSENTED: NOT PARTICIPATING: ATTORNEYS: December 7, 2012 2012 WI 122 NOTICE This opinion is subject to further editing and modification. The final version will appear in the bound volume of the official reports. No. 2012AP1777-D STATE OF WISCONSIN : IN SUPREME COURT In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Naomi E. Soldon, Attorney at Law: Office of Lawyer Regulation, FILED Complainant, DEC 7, 2012 v. Diane M. Fremgen Clerk of Supreme Court Naomi E. Soldon, Respondent. ATTORNEY disciplinary proceeding. Attorney's license suspended. ¶1 PER CURIAM. We review the stipulation filed by the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and Attorney Naomi E. Soldon. The OLR and committed Attorney professional Soldon misconduct suspended for her misconduct. restitution. stipulated facts Upon and stipulate careful and that Attorney that she Soldon should be The OLR is not seeking costs or consideration, retroactively suspend we adopt Attorney the Soldon's No. 2012AP1777-D license to practice law for a period of six months, commencing October 16, 2010. ¶2 Attorney Soldon Wisconsin on suspended Attorney professional September cooperate 14, admitted 1981. Soldon's law misconduct involving theft and fleeing and convictions was eluding to the OLR with the OLR's an within to On the April license for committing officer; five six of 2010, 16, Bar we months criminal failing days; and acts to for of report failing to Attorney Soldon stipulated to these violations and to the discipline. In re Disciplinary Proceedings investigation. State Against Soldon, 2010 WI 27, 324 Wis. 2d 4, 782 N.W.2d 81.1 ¶3 On August 9, 2012, the OLR filed a complaint alleging that Attorney Soldon engaged in three counts of misconduct as a result of three separate incidents of criminal misconduct. ¶4 First, on September 21, 2007, Attorney Soldon left an Illinois department store with $958.40 in unpaid merchandise. A warrant issued and she was eventually arrested in October 2009 in Illinois. She was then convicted of felony retail theft on October 20, 2011. State of Illinois v. Soldon, Kane County Case No. 07-CF-2926. ¶5 several Second, video on games February from 7, a 2009, Attorney department 1 store Soldon in stole Grafton, In 2012 Attorney Soldon filed a petition seeking to reinstate her law license. However, that petition has been held in abeyance pending resolution of the matters charged in the pending disciplinary complaint. 2 No. Wisconsin. Attorney Soldon was arrested misdemeanor retail theft as a repeater. Ozaukee County Case No. 09CM255. and 2012AP1777-D charged with See State v. Soldon, On October 6, 2010, she pled guilty and was convicted of that charge. ¶6 Third, on October 23, 2009, Attorney Soldon stole a candy bar from a store in Madison, Wisconsin. 2009, City of Madison police issued Attorney Soldon for her theft. a On October 26, municipal citation to On January 22, 2010, Attorney Soldon was found guilty and fined $177. ¶7 The incidents of OLR's complaint criminal alleged misconduct Attorney violated Soldon's three the Rules Professional Conduct for Attorneys, SCR Ch. 20, as follows: of (1) by engaging in conduct leading to a criminal conviction on one count of felony retail theft in State of Illinois v. Soldon, Kane County Case No. 07-CF-2926, Attorney Soldon violated SCR 20:8.4(b);2 (2) by engaging in conduct leading to a criminal conviction on one count of misdemeanor retail theft as a repeater in State v. Soldon, Ozaukee County Case No. 09CM255, Attorney Soldon violated SCR 20:8.4(b); and (3) by engaging in conduct leading to her conviction for retail theft, Attorney Soldon violated SCR 20:8.4(c).3 2 SCR 20:8.4(b) states it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to "commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects; . . . ." 3 SCR 20:8.4(c) states it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to "engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; . . . ." 3 No. ¶8 2012AP1777-D On September 26, 2012, the OLR and Attorney Soldon filed a stipulation whereby Attorney Soldon stipulated to the allegations in discipline. understands the OLR's complaint and to their recommended The stipulation states that Attorney Soldon fully the misconduct allegations and the ramifications should the court impose the stipulated level of discipline. The stipulation also provides that Attorney Soldon understands her right to contest the matter and understands her right to consult with counsel, that she was represented by counsel, and that her entry into the stipulation was made knowingly and voluntarily and without the benefit of any negotiations for a reduction in either charges or sanctions. ¶9 The stipulation OLR filed explaining a memorandum that in in support recommending a of the six-month suspension, the OLR director considered the ABA Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions and the particular circumstances of this case. factors The OLR's Attorney misconduct, offenses, Soldon's theft and memorandum prior indicating substantial identified discipline, selfish experience Standards § 9.2(a)-(d), (i). as her aggravating pattern motivation, as an of multiple attorney. ABA In mitigation, the OLR considered Attorney Soldon's gambling and drug problems, the fact that she self-reported the criminal charges and was cooperative throughout the process, and the fact she has sought and received appropriate treatment and exhibited remorse. ¶10 There discipline. The is OLR precedent cites supporting In 4 re the Disciplinary recommended Proceedings No. 2012AP1777-D Against Cahill, 219 Wis. 2d 330, 579 N.W.2d 231 (1998), where the court imposed a six-month suspension for multiple theftrelated crimes (defrauding an innkeeper, issuing worthless checks). ¶11 should The OLR and Attorney Soldon agree that the sanction be imposed retroactively. The court will impose a sanction retroactively when "misconduct occurred prior to the [earlier] disciplinary proceeding and [the attorney's] license has remained suspended previously imposed." well beyond the period of suspension In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against and Reinstatement of Mandelman, 182 Wis. 2d 583, 592, 514 N.W.2d 11 (1994); see also In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Gilbert, 2004 WI 144, 276 Wis. 2d 395, 689 N.W.2d 50; In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Edgar, 2003 WI 49, ¶13, 261 Wis. 2d 413, 661 N.W.2d 817 (when "the violations . . . occurred at the same time as the violations that gave rise to the previous disciplinary matter" a retroactive sanction may be appropriate). ¶12 nature Attorney Soldon's earlier misconduct was of a similar and also Wis. 2d 4, ¶3. occurred in 2007 and 2008. Soldon, 324 Her original six-month suspension was scheduled to end on October 16, 2010. Attorney Soldon's acts giving rise to this proceeding occurred in 2007 and 2009, with convictions in 2010 and 2011. in part gambling because problems Attorney Soldon delayed seeking reinstatement she and sought has treatment completed a for drug her alcohol court and program. Consequently, she has remained suspended for longer than the court's 2010 decision required. 5 No. ¶13 After careful review of the matter, we 2012AP1777-D adopt the stipulated facts and find it appropriate to suspend Attorney Soldon's license for a period of six months, consecutive to her April 16, 2010 suspension. Because Attorney Soldon entered into a comprehensive stipulation under SCR 22.12, thereby obviating the need for the appointment of a referee and a full disciplinary proceeding, we do not impose costs in this matter. ¶14 IT IS ORDERED that the license of Naomi E. Soldon to practice law in Wisconsin shall be suspended for six months, effective October 16, 2010. ¶15 already IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that to the extent she has not done so, Naomi E. Soldon shall comply with the provisions of SCR 22.26 concerning the duties of a person whose license to practice law in Wisconsin has been suspended. 6