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Referee: Retired DA should be suspended for 1 year, permanently banned from prosecuting cases

Strebel, ErikaWisconsin Law Journal; Milwaukee (Aug 17, 2017).

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A referee is recommending that the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspend a former Kenosha County District Attorney’s license for at least a year and permanently ban him from working as a prosecutor.

The referee’s recommendations stem from an Office of Lawyer Regulation complaint filed last year, charging Robert Zapf with three counts of misconduct involving two related homicide cases and asking that his license be suspended for 90 days.

Zapf is alleged to have failed to tell defense counsel in both cases that a Kenosha police officer had planted an ID card and bullet while searching a defendant’s home, and that the officer had resigned because of that conduct.

Also, the complaint alleged that Zapf lied in court after a jury trial in 2015, telling the judge that he was not aware of the officer’s misconduct and resignation and had no documentation of those events.

Zapf also failed to tell the court during a trial that the testimony about the ID and bullet was incomplete, according to the OLR.

The referee in the case, retired Judge Dennis Flynn, held a hearing in the case in July. In an 85-page report filed Thursday, Flynn recommended that Zapf’s license be suspended for at least a year – four times longer than the discipline the OLR had sought.

Zapf may choose to appeal Flynn’s recommendations. Zapf’s attorney, Michael Younglove, said Thursday that he and his client will be reviewing the report to decide what their next steps will be.

“We are extremely disappointed in the decision,” said Younglove.

In his recommendations, Flynn noted that Zapf offered little input as to what discipline would be appropriate should he be found to have engaged in misconduct, arguing mainly that the OLR had not proved all three charges of misconduct and that they all should be dismissed.