Legal Ethics

Wis. Appeals Court Raps Lawyer for Failure to Proofread

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Irked by a Wisconsin lawyer’s failure to proofread his pleadings, among other errors, a state appeals court has suggested that the longtime practitioner should go back to school for help with his legal writing.

A three-judge panel of the District 2 Court of Appeals also fined Patrick Hudec $500 for violating what it described as basic rules of appellate practice and procedure and called for an investigation by the Office of Lawyer Regulation of potential ethics violations by the East Troy attorney, reports the Associated Press.

Hudec made a late filing on appeal; filed an incomplete answer at the trial court level, leading to an initial loss for his client in the minimum-wage case; and included irrelevant “salacious material” about the plaintiff’s alleged relationship with the employer in one filing, the appellate panel stated in a written opinion yesterday. It suggests, in a footnote, that he consult the website maintained by the writing center at the University of Wisconsin at Madison for proofreading tips.

Reached by telephone today, Hudec blamed his staff for incomplete and garbled material that he filed, but said he should have caught most of the mistakes, the news agency writes. He also said such mistakes, while unfortunate, aren’t uncommon; in 30 years of practice he has seen “hundreds” of law firms make innocent mistakes, including misfilings.

“We are left shaking our heads!” Judge Daniel Anderson wrote for the panel. “Frankly, we are at a loss to understand what is clearly Hudec’s intentional disregard of the rules and the details, including his failure to proofread.”

Updated at 2:29 p.m. to correct a typographical error.

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