The executive director of Kenosha’s Women and Children’s Horizons is being accused of practicing law without a license. Last Friday, November 17, 2023, Paine filed a lawsuit against Wisconsin Balance of State COC in Eau Claire County Circuit Court on behalf of Women and Children’s Horizons. She begins the lawsuit by writing:
“NOW COMES the Plaintiff, WOMEN AND CHILDREN’S HORIZONS, INC, by and though its executive director, pro se…”
As a former lawyer, Paine either knew, or should have known that she cannot file a lawsuit on behalf of a corporation because she is not a licensed attorney. She was disbarred in Michigan and lost an appeal.
According to a 8-count findings document outlining an investigation into misconduct, Paine was disbarred May 20, 2023. The documents says in part, “After proceedings conducted pursuant to [Michigan Supreme Court Rules], the panel found, based on [Paine’s] admissions to all of the misconduct set forth in both formal complaints, that [Paine] committed professional misconduct during her representation of four different clients in their respective divorce and post-judgement divorce matters, while representing a client in adoption proceedings and in her own criminal matter…..“
The State of Michigan Attorney Discipline Board, in the letter seems to question Paine’s integrity, mentioning her flawed honesty, trustworthiness, and fitness as a lawyer. The Board also used words like fraud and deceit. They pointed out what appears to be theft, as she reportedly withheld money from clients. The Board also called Paine incompetent.
KCE told its readers about Paine’s disbarment on August 15, 2023. The community was outraged, but the board of directors for WCH took no action and defended their leader. The board didn’t talk then and they aren’t talking now. Ironically enough, Nicole Rizzo-Beddigs (D), the president of the board, is a Wisconsin Licensed attorney. We asked her why she authorized the lawsuit and she didn’t respond. Retired court commissioner John Plous, also an attorney, declined comment. Former board president, Joe Riesselmann, a Kenosha Police Lieutenant, resigned shortly after the public found out about Paine’s past disbarment and credibility issues.
Kenosha attorney Eric Olson, of Olson and Olson attorneys told KCE Monday that the statute and case law is clear. Olson pointed KCE to Jadair v. US Fire Case which says:
¶22 Under the plain language of the rules and statutes, we conclude that only lawyers can appear on behalf of, or perform legal service for, corporations in legal proceedings before Wisconsin courts. The intent of the legislature is clear. The only exception the legislature has made to the unauthorized practice of law statute is the exception contained in Wis.Stat. § 799.06(2) for actions filed in small claims court. When the legislature specifically enumerates certain exceptions to a statute, we will presume that the legislature intended to exclude any other exceptions. Georgina G. v. Terry M., 184 Wis.2d 492, 512, 516 N.W.2d 678 (1994).
“Her procedural misunderstanding and unlawful conduct will only delay resolution to this very serious problem, which could result in lost housing for abused women and their children. I doubt that any circuit court judge will allow a non-attorney to prosecute this injunction request. She should have hired a licensed attorney,” Olson told KCE Monday afternoon.
Women and Children’s Horizons is one of the oldest domestic violence and sexual assault services providers in Wisconsin. According to the IRS website, the tax-exempt organization has an annual budget of about $2,000,000 and the mission statements is “…To Provide support, shelter, education, training and healing services to victims of sexual and domestic abuse, their families, and the community.”
According to the lawsuit, Wisconsin Balance of State COC is non-profit corporation providing housing assistance services through funding with the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). WSBCOC provides rapid rehousing services to victims of domestic violence and their children in Kenosha County, and has since 2015. WSBCOC provides WCH with rental reimbursement, a wage for case management, and some administrative/office expenses.
WSBCOC cut off funding to WCH becuase WCH Director Paine failed to provide contractually-required statements to WSBCOC. Paine reached out to HUD for assistance. WCH insiders told KCE that Paine is using the confidentiality rules to cover up for her errors. Pained asked an Eau Claire County Circuit Court judge for an emergency injunction. Judge Emily Long denied Paine’s request for an emergency injunction stating “petition does not set forth sufficient facts to support the requested injunctive relief.” According to Paine, if the money is not awarded, many women and children will be evicted, starting early December.
KCE reached out to the Kenosha and Eau Claire County DA’s to see where if anywhere she would be prosecuted for practicing law without a license. Eau Claire DA Peter Rindal said his office wouldn’t be investigating the matter. Kenosha DA Mike Graveley didn’t respond.
In Wisconsin, practicing without a liaw license can be punished by a fine “not less than $50 nor more than $500 or imprisoned not more than one year in the county jail or both, and in addition may be punished as for a contempt.”Painelawsuit Painewater