Delavan attorney has license suspended for falsifying bills

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Mike Heine
Thursday, January 17, 2008

A former Delavan attorney had his license suspended for 60 days for filing false bills when he did work as a state-appointed public defender.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court Wednesday upheld a decision by the Office of Lawyer Regulation to suspend Stephen M. Compton’s license for professional misconduct. He is to pay $4,622.69 for the costs of the action.

According to the decision, Compton billed the Office of the State Public Defender for 120 hours of work done by a paralegal. Compton falsely claimed he did the work himself.

The office will not reimburse costs to anyone else doing legal work unless that person is specifically approved by the office.

The bills were from mid 2002, when Compton ran a solo practice.

In 2004, Compton acknowledged the false bills and agreed to be taken off the public defender’s appointment list. He reimbursed the office $4,800 and self-reported the matter to the Office of Lawyer Regulation that year, according to the decision.

Compton advised the court he stopped practicing on Aug. 1, 2007.

A call to his home was not returned.

The court denied his request to make the suspension retroactive to his retirement. It will start immediately.

The paralegal who did the work on the case started working for Compton earlier in 2002 while imprisoned at Dodge Correctional Institution, according to the decision.

Compton represented him in a criminal case and the man offered to do legal research while incarcerated.

Compton forwarded a case file to the man in prison without his client’s knowledge or approval.

While the man performed “competently and obtained ‘good results’ for the clients,” Compton had no supervision over him, which is another ethical violation, according to the decision.

The misconduct occurred when Compton should have been “extra vigilant” because he was negotiating a public reprimand for falsely recording time he worked on a contingency fee case, according to the decision.

Last updated: 1:55 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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