Disciplinary complaint filed against Falls lawyer
OLR alleges conflict of interest existed in dealings
Menomonee Falls - The state Office of Lawyer Regulation has filed a complaint with the Supreme Court of Wisconsin against John Harvey Niebler, a lawyer in Menomonee Falls, alleging he engaged in professional misconduct.
OLR is asking that Niebler be found in violation of the Supreme Court rules and that his license to practice law be suspended, alleging that he had a conflict of interest by serving as attorney for the trust and someone had a financial interest in the estate and trust.
The OLR filed three charges against Niebler, who works at Niebler, Pyzyk, Roth & Carrig, W17900 Appleton Ave. Neibler denies the charges.
"We have filed an answer contesting the allegations and asking for a dismissal of it," said attorney Ross Anderson, who is representing Niebler.
Anderson said because it's a standing claim, the rules do not allow for Niebler to comment.
"The grievance was filed by someone who was not John's client and we have taken the position that it was filed as a litigation tactic in a case that was pending and subsequently dismissed, and obviously we don't believe the statements in OLR's complaint are true and we denied them and asked them to be dismissed," Anderson said in a phone interview.
The OLR was established by the Wisconsin Supreme Court and receives grievances relating to lawyer misconduct, conducts investigations, and prosecutes violations of lawyer ethics rules. The Supreme Court will have the final say in the allegations.
The OLR alleges that Niebler has participated in professional misconduct in regards to the estate of Harvey John Geipel, a former client who died in November 2002.
Wore 'a lot of hats'
The complaint states that while serving as the personal representative of the estate, Niebler was also attorney for the estate, as well as a trustee of and attorney for Geipel's trust and had an interest in the estate, which the OLR states is a conflict of interest and a violation of the Supreme Court rules.
"Basically, we are alleging that he wore a lot of hats and everybody involved should have known and should have given him the informed authority to wear all those hats, some of which had conflicting interests, and some of them involved his own interests," said Bill Weigel, litigation counsel for the OLR. "We're alleging there's some instances of self-dealing."
OLR alleges that Niebler used his position as representative of the estate for personal gain.
Weigel said every attorney has the duty to cooperate with OLR investigations and if someone files a grievance they have to answer the OLR's questions. According to the complaint, a third count has been filed against Niebler that alleges he did not show total cooperation in the OLR investigation.
"At this point, these are allegations and we have the burden of proof and he has the right to contest," Weigel said. "The process is a fair one and a thorough one and it will conclude with the issuance of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, so this won't be over or have a final conclusion until the court issues its order."
Many grievances filed
The OLR receives 2,500 grievances every year. The grievances are looked at individually and assessed to determine if it is necessary for the OLR to conduct an investigation.
"Just because we have alleged something in the case, does not mean that it is true or it will get some result," Weigel said.
If the OLR believes there is misconduct, the findings are brought to a preliminary review committee, which is an independent body that determines if there is enough cause to proceed. If that is determined, which is the case in the allegations against Niebler, a complaint is filed.
Once a complaint is filed, a referee, who is typically a judge or experienced attorney, is appointed by the Supreme Court. The referee has been appointed in the case against Niebler, however, a hearing has not yet been scheduled, Weigel said.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court will have the final say to dismiss the case or impose disciplinary action.
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