The state Supreme Court on Thursday again suspended the law license of an East Troy attorney for 60 days, this time for mismanaging a trust account and missing deadlines set by the investigating agency.
The high court adopted the recommendation of a referee who oversaw the matter brought against Patrick J. Hudec by the Office of Lawyer Regulation.
In addition to the suspension, the court ordered Hudec to pay nearly $4,000 in court costs and attend a trust account seminar within one year.
The referee, according to the state Supreme Court decision released Thursday, said Hudec committed four counts of professional misconduct:
- Depositing and retaining funds belonging to himself or his law firm in his trust account.
- Making trust account checks payable to “cash” and making cash withdrawals from his trust account.
- Having trust account checks returned for insufficient funds.
- Willfully failing to provide the Office of Lawyer Regulation with a timely initial written response and a response to a June 2018 request for more information.
Hudec pleaded no contest Oct. 28 to the charges, according to the decision.
The matter that led to Hudec’s latest sanction stemmed from a Jan. 17, 2017, notice to the office about an overdraft on Hudec’s trust account. The office was then alerted to “several additional overdrafts,” the decision states.
A review showed he “disbursed funds from his trust account dozens of times to pay personal and/or law firm expenses,” the decision states. At the same time, he made trust account checks payable to “cash.”
There was no evidence that Hudec in this case was misappropriating or converting client funds, the decision states. This was more about “bookkeeping or accounting deficiencies,” it states.
Throughout the process, Hudec missed deadlines, asked for extensions and then missed those, too, according to the decision. The referee wrote that he “deliberately delays and drags his feet.”
“We (the court) share the referee’s concern about Attorney Hudec’s troubling propensity for delay and lack of cooperation in disciplinary matters and warn Attorney Hudec that his failure to comply with the conditions imposed upon his continued practice of law may subject Attorney Hudec to immediate license suspension,” the decision states.
Hudec said his delays in responding were medically related, including a lengthy illness in summer 2019 and major back surgery in January 2018, according to the decision.
The office said, however, that he did not show evidence that the medical problems caused his misconduct.
Hudec, who got his Wisconsin law license in 1979, has “an extensive disciplinary history,” the decision states, citing infractions such as conflicts of interest, drafting a letter with a false statement of fact and failing to communicate with clients.
In the latest matter, Hudec has to pay the court $3,991.10.
His suspension takes effect May 28.