Supporters of the probable recall drives against Gov. Scott Walker and his GOP allies can take comfort in knowing that, even with the state's one-year recall-free rule, the process of ousting detested politicians is nowhere near as cumbersome and protracted as that for disciplining lawyers.
Take the case of Madison attorney Victor Arellano, the subject of four separate complaints (at least three filed in 2007) from former female clients alleging serious transgressions.
The Office of Lawyer Regulation assigned these complaints to an investigator, who looked into the allegations and prepared a report. The OLR then retained counsel, Paul Schwarzenbart, to serve as a prosecutor.
Two weeks ago - that is, more than three years into the process - Schwarzenbart filed a formal complaint against Arellano, formerly with Lawton & Cates and now running his own firm, Arellano & Phebus. That complaint, available here (PDF), finds that Arellano broke rules of conduct in his dealings with all four women.
In one case, the complaint alleges, Arellano commenced a sexual relationship with a client after agreeing to represent her, a big no-no. When things went sour, he allegedly set out to harass ("at least 186 telephone calls" in the course of a single day) and defame her, personally and professionally, including the release of priviledged information. Then Arellano allegedly made "false and misleading statements" to the OLR investigator.
The complaint says Arellano had sexual relationships with all four women, including Marilyn Figueroa, whom he represented in her sexual harassment claim against Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist. One of the other women got pregnant with Arellano's child. (He later used the courts to get custody of this child and make her pay child support, a whole other story outside of the OLR's review.)
Schwarzenbart's complaint identifies 14 separate violations of professional rules and calls for the revocation of Arellano's law license.
But the process has a long, long way to go. Next a referee will be assigned to, in essence, try the case, with Schwarzenbart serving as the prosecutor, marshaling witnesses and evidence. The referee will then make a report to the Supreme Court, with recommendations, which either side can appeal. Then the Supreme Court will deliberate and perhaps hear oral arguments, before issuing its ruling.
Arellano did not return calls from Isthmus; his lawyer told Channel 3 he will present a vigorous defense. The process yet to come could easily last longer than Walker's tenure as governor. Until then Arellano can continue practicing law.