Twin Cities Attorney Faces Disbarment Over Alleged Deceptive Bail Advice and Lies to Judge

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A Twin Cities attorney is facing disbarment by the Minnesota Supreme Court after allegedly advising a client to jump bail in a Wisconsin criminal case and then lying to a judge about it. The attorney, Michael Padden of Lake Elmo, is also accused of several other violations under Wisconsin and Minnesota court rules. However, it is worth noting that a Wisconsin agency reviewing the alleged misconduct found no basis for further investigation and closed the matter.

The allegations against Padden were detailed in a 35-page petition filed by Minnesota’s Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (OLPR) last year. Despite six pages of the petition focusing on the alleged misconduct in Wisconsin, the decision by Wisconsin’s Office of Lawyer Regulation was not mentioned. The OLPR’s petition led to Padden’s suspension following a review by a referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Padden remains optimistic that he will be exonerated from these charges, expressing confidence in the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision-making process. The allegations against him stem from his purported advice to a client, Steven Sweet, to flee before a sentencing hearing in his credit card scam case. Sweet was subsequently arrested in 2020 and extradited to Wisconsin, where he received a prison sentence three times longer than what was initially recommended by a prosecutor.

In addition to advising his client to jump bail, Padden is accused of lying to a Wisconsin judge about having informed Sweet of the consequences of not appearing in court. Sweet’s wife filed a complaint against Padden with the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation, but the agency determined that there was insufficient basis to proceed with her complaint.

While Padden remains listed as a lawyer in good standing on the Wisconsin Court System website, the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision could prompt further action from Wisconsin courts. It is also worth mentioning that Padden is challenging an allegation made by the OLPR regarding a shortfall of more than $212,000 in an audit of his client funds. He disputes the audit’s findings and asserts that he did not steal from anyone.

The outcome of this case will ultimately be determined by the Minnesota Supreme Court, and if disciplinary action is taken against Padden, it will be referred to Wisconsin courts for possible action.