A Milwaukee criminal defense attorney has lost his license to practice law in Wisconsin nearly two years after being convicted of stalking an ex-girlfriend.
Matthew R. Meyer, 36, had accepted the Office of Lawyers Regulation’s recommendation to serve a two-year suspension for violating professional conduct rules related to his felony convictions.
But in a rare move, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the deal, endorsed by a former circuit judge who served as an arbitrator in the OLR case.
“We conclude that the serious and disturbing conduct of Attorney Meyer, in which he used his position as an attorney to intimidate and threaten a woman with whom he had a relationship, warrants the revocation of his Wisconsin law license” , reads the unsigned opinion.
Meyer, a Wisconsin attorney since 2012, had no prior professional discipline. The court’s opinion seemed strongly influenced by the facts of his case, which the court recounted at length in the decision.
According to court records, after woman tried to end relationship with Meyer, he threatened her, punched her, harassed her with hundreds of phone calls in one day, damaged her car and threatened to spread negative information about him to his family, friends and employer.
Meyer told the woman that his criminal defense clients would harm his family for him and that he was safe from legal consequences because of his role as a lawyer.
Originally charged with four counts, Meyer pleaded guilty to two felonies, stalking and threatening to communicate derogatory information.
In a concurring opinion, Chief Justice Annette Ziegler, joined by Justices Rebecca Bradley and Brian Hagedorn, again noted that in Wisconsin, attorneys can seek reinstatement of their revoked licenses after five years. Judges support permanent dismissals in the most egregious cases. All three judges made the same comment in another recent revocation case.
The leading opinion called Meyer’s situation “one of those cases.”
In dissent, Judge Ann Walsh Bradley wrote that the court did not “tie its chosen level of discipline to any discussion of precedent. It is unique in its approach.”
No case is cited in (the majority opinion) to support its conclusion because there is no case to be cited that supports a revocation,” Bradley wrote. “As a result, the imposition of a revocation seems rather arbitrary.”
She noted that the OLR memo that umpire Jean DiMotto recommended to the court cites several cases in support of a two-year suspension.
“Certainly the conduct here is egregious, but the explanation of wrong facts cannot serve as an excuse for this tribunal’s refusal to recognize that it deviates from precedent and then offer a reasoned explanation,” reads- we in dissent.
The majority of the Supreme Court adopted the terms accepted by the OLR and Meyer. Among them, he had to provide the OLR with proof of any substance abuse or mental health, anger management and abuser treatment he receives before seeking reinstatement in five years.
Meyer must also pay the $1,891.81 OLR application fee.