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  • Schofield Attorney Among Four Victims Killed in Tragic Shootings

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    Candelight

    March 23, 2017 – With great sadness, the State Bar of Wisconsin has learned that attorney Sara H. Quirt-Sann, 43, is among four victims killed yesterday in shootings that occurred in three separate locations near Wausau, including a law firm in Schofield.

    Authorities confirmed today that Quirt-Sann, a solo attorney in Schofield, was one of the shooting victims. Everest Metro Police Detective Jason T. Weiland, 40, and two local bank employees, Dianne M. Looke, 67, and Karen L. Barclay, 62, were also killed.

    The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) today released an update on the shootings, indicating they were “motivated by a domestic incident” involving one shooter, a 45-year-old male suspect, who is in custody. He will be prosecuted by DOJ.

    Quirt-Sann, a lifelong Wausau resident, graduated in 1999 from Valparaiso Law School. The DOJ’s press release notes that she was a loving wife, daughter, sister, stepmom, aunt, friend, and community servant who loved golf, yoga, her dog, and practicing law.

    The State Bar of Wisconsin and the Marathon County Bar Association released a joint statement concerning this tragic event and the loss of a friend and colleague.

    “Our Marathon County legal community is shaken to its core by this senseless act of violence that killed our dear friend and colleague,” said Robyn J. De Vos, president of the Marathon County Bar Association. “Sara was a smart, compassionate attorney who exuded a quiet confidence and, as a guardian ad litem, strove to understand the real struggles families face. She was a kind, beautiful person. We will never be the same.”

    “Our deepest condolences go out to everyone affected by this tragedy," said State Bar of Wisconsin President Fran Deisinger. "Attorneys often intersect with and assist clients during the most difficult moments of their lives. It's truly heartbreaking when these complicated and challenging situations escalate to violence. Despite this tragedy, Wisconsin lawyers will remain dedicated to the important work of serving their clients and the community at large.”

    ​​



  • Joint Statement of the Marathon County Bar Association and the State Bar of Wisconsin regarding the tragic shootings in Marathon County and the death of Attorney Sara Quirt-Sann:

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    NEWS RELEASE
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    MARCH 23, 2017

    CONTACT:
    Kristen Durst
    State Bar of Wisconsin
    (608) 250-6025
    org kdurst wisbar wisbar kdurst org

    “Our Marathon County legal community is shaken to its core by this senseless act of violence that killed our dear friend and colleague. Sara was a smart, compassionate attorney who exuded a quiet confidence and, as a guardian ad litem, strove to understand the real struggles families face.  She was a kind, beautiful person.  We will never be the same.” 

    Robyn J. De Vos, President of the Marathon County Bar Association  

     

    Our deepest condolences go out to everyone affected by this tragedy. Attorneys often intersect with and assist clients during the most difficult moments of their lives. It’s truly heartbreaking when these complicated and challenging situations escalate to violenceDespite this tragedy, Wisconsin lawyers will remain dedicated to the important work of serving their clients and the community at large.

     Francis W. Deisinger, President of the State Bar of Wisconsin




  • Tomah Man Who Threatened to Assassinate Obama in La Crosse Loses Seventh Circuit Appeal

    Joe Forward

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    Social Media Threats

    March 23, 2017 – Brian Dutcher announced on Facebook in June 2015 that he planned to assassinate then-U.S. President Barack Obama. Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld Dutcher’s conviction for threatening the President.

    “Thursday I will be in La Crosse,” Dutcher wrote on his Facebook page. “Hopefully I will get a clear shot of the pretend president. Killing him is our CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY!” Dutcher asked followers to pray that his mission would be successful.

    After announcing his assassination plans, Dutcher drove to La Crosse from his home in Tomah, where President Obama was scheduled to speak. He told an acquaintance, a security guard at the La Crosse Public Library, that he was “here to kill the President, the usurper, tomorrow at his speech.” The security guard prompted an alert to police.

    Dutcher confirmed his threat to police, which delivered him to Secret Service. In a two-hour interview, Dutcher told Secret Service agents that he had a biblical and constitutional duty to assassinate the President and could do it with a sling shot.

    Police found a sling shot in Dutcher’s van, but no other weapons. Dutcher also agreed to let agents search his Facebook account, which revealed the threats. He was detained for a mental health evaluation, and repeated his assassination plan to a doctor and a nurse. The next day, he was arrested, and repeated his threats in custody.

    Dutcher was found competent to stand trial. After a two-day trial, a jury found that Dutcher willfully threatened the President, in violation of the federal statute, because he “actually intended his statement to be a true threat” or “knew that other people would reasonably view his statement as a true threat” but made it anyway.

    A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin sentenced Dutcher to three years in prison with three years of supervised release.

    Dutcher appealed, arguing that his words were merely heated rhetoric and he could not be convicted because was unable to carry out his threats – he was only armed with a sling shot and had no ticket to the President’s speech in La Crosse that day. He challenged the sufficiency of the evidence and the jury instructions at trial.

    But in U.S. v. Dutcher, No. 16-1767 (March 22, 2017), a three-judge panel for the Seventh Circuit Appeals Court affirmed the conviction, concluding the evidence was sufficient to convict him and the jury instructions did not misguide the conviction.

    True Threat

    The three-judge panel noted that only “true threats” can violate the federal statute prohibiting threats against the President – “a serious expression of intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.”

    Prosecutors must show that the person making the threat “knows” others would interpret the statement or statements as a serious threat of violence, the panel noted.

    Joe ForwardJoe Forward, Saint Louis Univ. School of Law 2010, is a legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. He can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6161.

    “A true threat does not require that the speaker intend to carry it out, or even that she have the capacity to do so. The prohibition against threats protects against the fear they engender as well as the risk that they may be carried out,” wrote Chief Judge Diane Wood for the three-judge panel, noting the statute does not criminalize “bad jokes.”

    The panel noted that the security guard in La Crosse, Dutcher’s acquaintance, took his statements seriously enough to report them 30 seconds after the interaction, and they were “alarming enough” that the security guard’s supervisor reported them to police.

    The panel also noted responses to Dutcher’s post on Facebook, which indicated that others took his threat seriously. One asked him to “stay calm.” Another encouraged Dutcher to vote and asked how killing the President would change anything.

    “Dutcher’s contention that his Facebook post was not taken seriously since nobody who saw it informed the police (in fact, he got two ‘likes’) also falls short of undermining the jury’s conclusion,” wrote Chief Judge Wood, concluding Dutcher made a “true threat.”

    The panel also rejected Dutcher’s argument that the jury instructions were faulty because they allowed the jury to view the threats based on what a “reasonable person would think” about them, not whether Dutcher “knew” they would be viewed as threats.

    “The instructions did not permit the jury to find willful behavior simply because a listener ‘reasonably would view’ Dutcher’s statement as a threat,” Wood wrote. “Instead, it had to find that he made the statement despite knowing, subjectively, that the listener would see it that way.”

    Finally, the panel rejected Dutcher’s claim that he could not be convicted unless he “knew” his conduct was illegal, concluding this heightened proof requirement does not apply to a federal statute like prohibiting serious threats against the President.

    That heightened requirement, the panel noted, applies only to “highly technical” statutes that pose a danger of ensnaring individuals who might not reasonably know what crosses the line into illegal. “The President’s safety does not turn on a defendant’s familiarity with the United States Code,” Chief Judge Wood explained.




  • Memo to JFC on Pay Progression and Private Bar Rate

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    To: Members of the Joint Finance Committee

    From: Francis W. Deisinger, President, State Bar of Wisconsin

    Date: March 22, 2017

    Re: 2017-2019 Budget - Pay Progression and Private Bar Rate

    I am the president of the State Bar of Wisconsin, which represents nearly 25,000 licensed Wisconsin lawyers.  We are asking for your support for additional funding proposed in the 2017-2019 budget to provide adequate compensation to attract and retain quality attorneys throughout the justice system. 

    The State Bar takes policy positions judiciously, but it is our longstanding policy to support pay progression for Attorneys General, Assistant District Attorneys, Deputy District Attorneys, and Public Defender Attorneys, as well as an increased reimbursement rate for assigned counsel.  We believe very strongly that knowledgeable and experienced attorneys on all sides in the criminal justice system are essential to ensure the best outcome for all parties, including victims, the accused and the taxpaying public.

    Pay Progression

    In the Governor’s 2017-2019 proposed budget, additional funding for pay progression is provided for both the State Public Defender’s (SPD) office and District Attorneys budgets. The State Bar supports the continued funding of pay progression for Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs), Deputy District Attorneys (DDAs) and Assistant State Public Defenders (ASPDs) and I urge you to support retaining those provisions and finding a long-term solution to the retention of these important attorney positions as you go through the budget process this spring. Pay progression helps the government retain talented and experienced employees by rewarding attorneys with increasing years of service. Retention is a major concern with ADAs, DDAs and ASPDs. Ensuring that these offices can retain experienced attorneys will help ensure that the constitutional rights of our citizens are protected, and that our justice system is working efficiently.

    Public Defender and Private Bar Rate

    The State Bar appreciates Governor Walker’s support for a funding increase in the State Public Defender’s budget, but also encourages committee members to include an increase in the private bar rate, from the current $40 an hour, in the final budget.  Wisconsin currently has the lowest rate in the nation, a rate that has not changed since 1995. This stagnation has led to significant problems finding qualified attorneys to take on certain cases, particularly those involving sexual assault.  With the rate remaining unchanged, the State Bar believes that in our state an individual’s constitutional right to a fair trial with an effective defense inevitably will erode, while at the same time, and for the same reason, there will be increased litigation in the appeals court system.

    We know you understand that the justice system is complex and that we need to ensure that knowledgeable attorneys protect the constitutional rights of our citizens.  Any of these requests would likely improve attorney retention within their respective agencies; combined, however, these changes would not only improve the likelihood of justice for all parties, but would also lead to overall efficiency for all involved in the judicial system. 

    If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact State Bar lobbyists Cale Battles or (608) 250-6077 or Lynne Davis.




  • Wisconsin Supreme Court Equally Divided in Fiduciary Duty Case

    Joe Forward

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    Supreme Court chamber in Wisconsin State Capitol

    March 21, 2017 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently split 3-3 in a fiduciary duty case involving two business partners, meaning one partner will get $499,000 in compensatory damages from the other but will not receive punitive damages.

    Justice Daniel Kelly did not participate in the case and the six other justices split equally, meaning the judgment of the lower appeals court is affirmed.

    The supreme court’s per curiam opinion in Smith v. Kleynerman, 2017 WI 22 (March 21, 21, 2017) simply stated the court was equally divided without any indication of how the participating justices voted. Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote a concurring opinion, stating that nondisclosure of votes changes “recent and historically dominant practice.”

    “From my perspective, consistency is important,” she wrote. “If a court is not consistent in its practice about reporting tie votes then I believe the court should explain why the voting information is revealed in a particular case and in another it is not.”

    This particular case began with a 2009 transaction in which two 50/50 business partners sold their business. More than two years later, one accused the other of breaching a fiduciary duty and making material misrepresentations with respect to the transaction.

    Ultimately, a jury found that Greg Kleynerman breached a fiduciary duty and awarded Scott Smith $499,000 in compensatory damages. The jury found no intentional misrepresentations but awarded $200,000 in punitive damages for misrepresentation.

    Joe ForwardJoe Forward, Saint Louis Univ. School of Law 2010, is a legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. He can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6161.

    Upon post-verdict motions, the circuit court judge struck the punitive damages award as legally inconsistent with a finding that Kleynerman’s representations were not untrue. Both parties appealed, and the District I Appeals Court affirmed the lower court rulings.

    The appeals court agreed that Kleynerman owed Smith a fiduciary duty, the claim was not barred by the statute of limitations, Kleynerman breached the duty, and Smith presented credible evidence that the breach caused Smith to suffer pecuniary loss.

    The appeals court also concluded that Smith had standing to sue, despite Kleynerman’s argument that any damages claim belonged to the former company they owned.

    But the appeals court rejected Smith’s cross-appeal for punitive damages on intentional misrepresentation, concluding there was “credible evidence supporting the jury’s verdict that the representations were not untrue at the time they were made.”

    Finally, the court of appeals declined to grant Smith a new trial on the intentional misrepresentation claim despite his argument that the jury was confused.

    “Here, the answers as to punitive damages were superfluous, in that they were legally impossible, not logically inconsistent,” the appeals court wrote in a per curiam opinion.

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court accepted the case for review but the votes were evenly divided, with one nonparticipating justice. Thus, the court affirmed the appeals court.




  • State Bar of Wisconsin Urges Restoration of LSC Funding in Proposed Federal Budget

    Kristen Durst

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    Domino Effect

    March 16, 2017 – President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 federal budget eliminates funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a move that would have profoundly negative effects on our most vulnerable citizens and our justice system in Wisconsin. 

    The LSC provides funding to Legal Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Judicare, two organizations that help provide free legal information, advice, and representation to low-income individuals who have civil legal problems in Wisconsin. Together, these two programs received $5.2 million from LSC, to support their work removing barriers to employment, obtaining child support orders, preventing homelessness, and protecting abuse victims.

    Last year, they served over 9,400 people in cities and small towns across Wisconsin. LSC funding also allows them to support hundreds of volunteer attorneys who donate over $1 million of their time.

    State Bar of Wisconsin President Fran Deisinger says “the State Bar of Wisconsin is gravely concerned about the proposed elimination of the LSC, the burden that will place on low-income families in Wisconsin, and the resulting challenges to our state's justice system.” Deisinger urges constituents to contact their legislators to help save LSC.

    Legal aid helps secure the rights of approximately 1.9 million families annually nationally including military personnel and veterans, older Americans, rural Americans, women (nearly 90 percent of clients), and natural disaster victims.

    American Bar Association President Linda A. Klein issued a statement saying, “Our nation’s core values are reflected in the LSC’s work in securing housing for veterans, freeing seniors from scams, serving rural areas when others won’t, protecting battered women, helping disaster survivors back to their feet, and many others.”

    Also supporting the LSC are the heads of more than 150 U.S. law firms, who told Trump in a letter that eliminating funding would hamper their ability to provide pro bono representation because they partner with legal aid groups receiving LSC funding.

    “Eliminating the Legal Services Corp. will not only imperil the ability of civil legal aid organizations to serve Americans in need, it will also vastly diminish the private bar’s capacity to help these individuals,” the letter stated. “The pro bono activity facilitated by LSC funding is exactly the kind of public-private partnership the government should encourage, not eliminate.”

    Kristen Durst is the public relations coordinator for the State Bar of Wisconsin. She can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6025.




  • State Bar of Wisconsin Urges Restoration of LSC Funding

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    NEWS RELEASE
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    March 16, 2017

    CONTACT:
    Kristen Durst
    State Bar of Wisconsin
    (608) 250-6025
    org kdurst wisbar wisbar kdurst org

     

    State Bar of Wisconsin Urges Restoration of LSC Funding

         

    Madison, WI President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 federal budget eliminates funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a move that would have profoundly negative effects on our most vulnerable citizens and our justice system in Wisconsin. 

    The LSC provides funding to Legal Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Judicare, two organizations that help provide free legal information, advice, and representation to low income individuals who have civil legal problems in Wisconsin. Together, these two programs received $5.2 million from LSC, to support their work removing barriers to employment, obtaining child support orders, preventing homelessness, and protecting abuse victims. Last year, they served over 9,400 people in cities and small towns across Wisconsin. LSC funding also allows them to support hundreds of volunteer attorneys who donate over $1 million of their time.

    State Bar of Wisconsin President Fran Deisinger says “the State Bar of Wisconsin is gravely concerned about the proposed elimination of the LSC, the burden that will place on low income families in Wisconsin, and the resulting challenges to our state's justice system.” Deisinger urges constituents to contact their legislators to help save LSC.

    Legal aid helps secure the rights of approximately 1.9 million families annually nationally including military and veterans, older Americans, rural Americans, women (nearly 90 percent of clients) and natural disaster victims.

    American Bar Association President Linda A. Klein issued a statement saying, “Our nation’s core values are reflected in the LSC’s work in securing housing for veterans, freeing seniors from scams, serving rural areas when others won’t, protecting battered women, helping disaster survivors back to their feet, and many others.

    Also supporting the LSC are the heads of more than 150 U.S. law firms, who told Trump in a letter that eliminating funding would hamper their ability to provide pro bono representation because they partner with legal aid groups receiving LSC funding.

    “Eliminating the Legal Services Corp. will not only imperil the ability of civil legal aid organizations to serve Americans in need, it will also vastly diminish the private bar’s capacity to help these individuals,” the letter stated. “The pro bono activity facilitated by LSC funding is exactly the kind of public-private partnership the government should encourage, not eliminate.”




  • State Bar of Wisconsin Supports AB 115 and 116

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    Below is a memo that was sent to the Assembly Committee on State Affairs outlining the State Bar of Wisconsin's support for AB 115 and 116:

     

    To: Members, Assembly Committee on State Affairs

    From: Lisa Roys, Director of Public Affairs

    Date: March 15, 2017

    Re: Support of AB 115 and AB 116

    The State Bar of Wisconsin supports AB 115 and AB 116. Access to the courts is vital for all Wisconsin citizens. Everyone is entitled to their day in court in a fair and equitable manner. A well-functioning judicial system contributes to public safety and economic certainty while protecting vulnerable citizens and contributing to the economic climate. AB 115 and 116 and the work of the Joint Legislative Council Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services is an important first step in the process of finding a long-term and sustainable solution to the justice gap in Wisconsin.

    The State Bar of Wisconsin commends the study committee’s chair, Representative Cody Horlacher, and all of the members of the study committee for their work on this important issue. If you have any questions or need additional information, please Cale Battles at 608-250-6077 or org cbattles wisbar wisbar cbattles org or Lynne Davis at 608-250-6045 or org ldavis wisbar wisbar ldavis org.

    CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES IN WISCONSIN

    What is “civil legal services?”

    • It’s not about criminal defense services or personal injury lawsuits. Civil legal services programs don’t handle those types of issues.
    • It is about helping the most vulnerable Wisconsin residents who need assistance with civil legal issues to protect their safety, family, housing, income and other basic necessities of life.

    Helping Those Who Cannot Help Themselves

    State funding for Wisconsin’s civil legal services programs helps low-income individuals and families who cannot help themselves due to illness, age, abuse, disability or the complexity of their problem. The people served are:

    • Victims of domestic violence and others who need protection from abuse
    • Facing the loss of their home due to illegal evictions and foreclosures
    • Seniors who want to live in dignity and security
    • Disabled residents who need protection and advice
    • Families with health and disability issues
    • Veterans and service members who need a little extra help
    • Children and families trying to rebuild their lives

    A Cost-Effective Investment

    For every $1 of state civil legal services appropriation funding, Wisconsin's civil legal services providers have a track record of recovering over $10 for their clients in the form of child support, maintenance, federal benefits, security deposits and more.

    Helping people resolve legal problems early also means avoiding higher costs later: 

    • Fewer emergency room visits, shelter stays and police calls for abuse victims,
    • Higher property values for neighborhoods when unsafe living conditions are remedied or unlawful foreclosures are stopped and people can remain in their homes.
    • Increased child support payments reduces the need for public benefits
    • Barriers to employment are removed, reducing claims for unemployment and other benefits
    • Veterans who get the benefits they’re due can contribute more to our state’s economy
    • Children in safer, stable families can focus on learning



  • Fired for Missing Work? Appeals Court Clarifies Right to Unemployment Benefits

    Joe Forward

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    Unemployment Benefits

    March 16, 2017 – Even if an employer has a zero tolerance policy on missing work without notice, an employee who is fired may still qualify for unemployment benefits, a state appeals court has ruled, because state law sets a floor on eligibility.

    In Wisconsin DWD v. Wisconsin LIRC, 2016AP1365 (March 8, 2017), a three-judge panel for the District II Court of Appeals ruled (2-1) that a nurse fired for one absence without notice can still receive unemployment benefits under state law.

    The case began when a registered nurse, Valarie Beres, did not report for work in 2015. Her employer, Mequon Jewish Campus, maintained an attendance policy that required workers to call two hours in advance of any expected absence from work.

    Beres did not call two hours in advance to report flu-like symptoms, and she was still on her 90-day probation period for new workers, allowing for her immediate termination under the attendance policy. Mequon Jewish Campus fired Beres three days later.

    She filed for unemployment benefits but the DWD denied her application on the grounds that she violated the employer’s attendance policy and thus committed misconduct. The Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) reversed the DWD’s decision to deny.

    The Absenteeism Statute

    In Wisconsin, workers are ineligible for unemployment benefits if fired for “misconduct,” including “absenteeism.” Under Wis. Stat. section 108.04(5)(e), absenteeism means excessive tardiness or absence from work, without notice and a valid reason, “on more than 2 occasions within the 120-day period” before the employee is fired, “unless otherwise specified by his or her employer in an employment manual.”

    DWD said the statute allows employer attendance policies to be more restrictive than state law if specified in employer manuals. Thus, an employee who violates a more restrictive policy commits “misconduct” and is ineligible for unemployment benefits.

    Joe ForwardJoe Forward, Saint Louis Univ. School of Law 2010, is a legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. He can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6161.

    But LIRC disagreed and reversed DWD’s decision on Beres. LIRC concluded that state law is a “default provision,” but also sets a floor on eligibility for unemployment benefits.

    Thus, in Beres’ cases, LIRC argued that a denial violated the statute, because Beres was fired after just one absence without notice, and the statute requires more than two absences within four months. The circuit court rejected LIRC’s interpretation.

    But an appeals court majority reversed, adopting LIRC’s interpretation of the statute. The 2-1 majority noted that the law changed in 2013. Previously, ineligibility for absenteeism without notice did not trigger without 5 or more absences within a year.

    The majority ruled that LIRC’s decision was entitled to due weight deference regardless of recent legislative changes that tightened standards related to absenteeism because LIRC had previously decided many cases of absenteeism under the old statute.

    The majority noted that employers can adopt attendance policies that are more restrictive than state law, but those policies won’t control eligibility for unemployment benefits in those cases where other misconduct or substantial fault is not present.

    “Employers are free to adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ attendance policy and discharge employees for that reason, but not every discharge qualifies as misconduct for unemployment insurance purposes,” wrote Judge Reilly for the 2-1 majority. 

    Dissent

    Judge Mark Gundrum dissented, concluding LIRC was not entitled to due weight deference and de novo review applies because the statute is new and thus the case is one of first impression. In addition, Gundrum concluded LIRC’s interpretation is wrong.

    “The language plainly states that the default standard applies ‘unless otherwise specified … in an employment manual' of which the employee has acknowledged receipt with his or her signature,” wrote Judge Gundrum, a former state legislator.

    Gundrum said nothing in the plain language of section 108.04(5)(e) prohibits employers from establishing attendance policies that are more restrictive than the default provision.

    “LIRC does not like the new policy the legislature and governor enacted, so it has decided to effectively rewrite it,” he wrote. “And the majority is going along with it.”




  • Requesting Electronic Medical Records in a ‘HITECH’ Age

    The HITECH Act, made law in 2009, provides for individuals to quickly access medical records at affordable costs. With the rising costs of litigation for plaintiffs and defendants, limiting and controlling the costs of medical records acquisition in personal injury cases can be a meaningful way to effectuate settlement and protect your client’s bottom line.

    Kristen S. Scheuerman

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    In 2009, the HITECH Act became federal law, passed as Title XIII of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “Recovery Act,” as it is commonly referred to, was a stimulus package enacted by the 11th U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama).

    Kristen S. Scheuerman com kscheuerman herrlingclark Kristen S. Scheuerman, Marquette 2010, is a shareholder with Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd., Appleton, where her practice is devoted primarily to plaintiffs’ personal injury litigation.

    HITECH, an acronym for Health Technology for Economic and Clinical Health, made billions in federal funding available to encourage hospitals and health care providers to maintain protected health information (PHI) in electronic format. The electronic records produced by hospitals, doctors, and other providers are often referred to as either electronic health records (EHR) or electronic medical records (EMR).

    Folks on both sides of the political aisle had been encouraging legislation for years, prior to the Recovery Act, that would push clinics, hospitals, and providers toward electronic record keeping in the hopes that patient care would be improved: electronic records could help reduce errors, coordinate care more effectively, and allow patients the ability to better control their own health care decisions.1

    The Greatest Benefit: Cost Savings

    From a practitioner’s standpoint in the world of personal injury litigation, one of the greatest benefits of the HITECH Act has been a cost savings to the patient/client with respect to accessing medical records.

    Pursuant to HITECH (42 U.S.C. § 17935(e)), the patient has a right to obtain his or her PHI in electronic format at a fixed cost. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest benefits. The fee may include only the cost of:

    1. labor for copying the PHI requested by the individual;
    2. supplies for creating the electronic media (e.g., CD or USB drive) if the individual requests that the electronic copy be provided on portable media;
    3. postage, when the individual requests that the copy, summary, or explanation be mailed; and
    4. preparation of an explanation or summary of the PHI, if agreed to by the individual. See 45 CFR 164.524(c)(4).

    Covered entities may opt to charge a single flat fee for records, per the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is the department charged with overseeing HITECH compliance.

    For electronic copies of PHI maintained electronically, a covered entity may charge a flat fee for a standard request, provided the fee does not exceed $6.50.2 The flat fee is an extraordinary cost savings to the patient/client when compared with the “traditional” cost of records.

    In Wisconsin, records (outside of HITECH) can be billed per page, with fees set by the Department of Health Services and codified at Wis. Stat. section 146.83(3f)(b), starting at $1.00 per page. Assuming you request more than six pages of records, the HITECH flat fee will always save you money, as compared to a traditional request.

    A Faster Response Rate

    However, a substantial cost savings is not the only HITECH benefit. Records requested pursuant to HITECH must be produced in a timely manner – specifically within 30 days of the request. 45 C.F.R. § 164.524(b)(2). My office has enjoyed a meaningfully faster return of records when using HITECH authorizations than with the traditional third-party HIPAA request.

    Making a HITECH Request

    All that is required to make a HITECH request is that the “request must be in writing, signed by the individual, and clearly identify the designated person and where to send a copy of protected health information.” 45 C.F.R. 164.524(c)(3)(ii).

    HITECH applies broadly and includes “business associates” (think IOD, Healthport, Ciox) as the federal law defines a “covered entity” to include “health care providers, health plans, health clearinghouses, and business associates.” 45 C.F.R. § 160.1033.This is important because the majority of records we obtain are obtained through a clearinghouse such as IOD.

    When we first started using HITECH requests with clearinghouses like IOD, our requests were often denied or rejected, with the explanation that HITECH applies to providers only. This, of course, is not accurate, and HITECH must be complied with by providers and records-clearinghouses alike.

    When we first started using HITECH requests years ago, we found, like so many others, that our requests were met with confusion, skepticism, and rejection. However, providers have been increasingly willing to listen, to do what is needed to understand the requirements of HITECH, and to appropriately respond to such requests.

    We feel very fortunate that today, requesting records pursuant to a HITECH request is a fairly seamless process. We remain surprised at the number of attorneys, whether from the plaintiff bar or the defense bar, who seem to have no interest in HITECH requests. If medical records are available quickly and for substantially less money, why would that not be an attractive option?

    Cost Savings Examples with HITECH Requests

    Perhaps the cost savings is not entirely appreciated. To that end, I will share two examples:

    1. We sent a HITECH request on behalf of a client, and the request was refused on the grounds that a HIPAA authorization was required. After several phone calls and discussions, the previously withheld records finally came with a bill from IOD, which included a “tiered” pricing for labor and a demand for payment in the amount of $393.76. We filed a complaint with OCR. Ultimately, the bill was waived in its entirety, and the records remained with us, at absolutely no cost to the client. Even had the bill not been waived, HITECH pricing would have been either $6.50 or somewhere around a “reasonable labor fee,” so perhaps $25 or $30. Although $393.76 may not seem worth the fight, from the plaintiff’s perspective, at least, it certainly is. Imagine that you are an injured party who has a modest personal injury case and who is ultimately responsible for the costs expended on his or her file. The margins on a modest pre-suit settlement can be greatly impacted by a savings of several hundred dollars, making settlement more attractive, or in some cases, possible.

    2. Our greatest HITECH success story involved a massive records request in a large medical malpractice case, where thousands and thousands of pages of lab reports, chart notes, and records were needed. The records were initially sent in paper form with a bill for just over $7,000. We disputed the bill (and the format the records were sent in – we specifically requested a CD, which also makes adding records to your own electronic file a breeze, as nothing needs to be scanned), and a correct bill was sent, along with a number of CDs. We paid just over $50.00 for the records.

    Whether you represent an injured party, an insurance company, or an individual defendant, it is hard to argue that those kind of savings are not incredibly meaningful.


    Endnotes


    1See Benefits of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), last accessed March 6, 2017.

     2See Individuals’ Right Under HIPAA to Access their Health Information 45 C.F.R. § 164.524; New Clarification- $6.50 Flat Rate Option is Not a Cap on Fees for Copies of PHI, last accessed March 6, 2017:

    “In the case of requests for an electronic copy of PHI maintained electronically, covered entities may: (3) charge a flat fee not to exceed $6.50 (inclusive of all labor, supplies, and postage). Charging a flat fee not to exceed $6.50 per request is therefore an option available to entities that do not want to go through the process of calculating actual or average allowable costs for requests for electronic copies of PHI maintained electronically.”

    3“Business associate includes: (i) A Health Information Organization, E-prescribing Gateway, or other person that provides data transmission services with respect to protected health information to a covered entity and that requires access on a routine basis to such protected health information. (ii) A person that offers a personal health record to one or more individuals on behalf of a covered entity. (iii) A subcontractor that creates, receives, maintains, or transmits protected health information on behalf of the business associate.”45 C.F.R. § 160.103(3).




  • Federal Nominating Commission Seeks Applications for Vacancies in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

    The Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission, charged with making recommendations for vacancies in federal judgeships and U.S. attorney positions, is accepting applications for vacancies on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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    March 15, 2017 – The Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission, charged with making recommendations for vacancies in federal judgeships and U.S. attorney positions, is accepting applications for vacancies on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Applications are due April 29, 2017. Application instructions and materials are available on the Federal Nominating Commission’s page on WisBar.

    All inquiries and correspondence should be directed to Lisa Roys, Public Affairs Director, State Bar of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158. Roys may also be reached toll-free at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6128 or via email at org lroys wisbar wisbar lroys org.

    Call for Judicial Vacancies Coming Soon

    The commission will also be calling for applicants for a judicial vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Application materials will be available on April 29, 2017, with a deadline for submission by May 29, 2017.

    About the Federal Nominating Commission

    U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin reestablished the Federal Nominating Commission’s charter, as of Feb. 13, 2017, to recommend candidates for vacancies on the U.S. District Courts in Wisconsin, certain vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and U.S. attorney vacancies in Wisconsin.

    The State Bar of Wisconsin will continue to provide administrative support to the commission, and former State Bar President Michelle Behnke and current State Bar President-elect Paul Swanson will continue to co-chair the commission.

    “I am pleased that Wisconsin’s Federal Nominating Commission will continue its dedicated work in reviewing candidates for these enormously important positions,” said current State Bar President Fran Deisinger. “Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin are to be commended for their leadership in keeping the commission process, which has been in existence since 1979, working for Wisconsin.”

    The Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission has been making recommendations to Wisconsin's U.S. senators since 1979.

    According to Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. President "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint" federal judges. The president also appoints U.S. attorneys. By tradition, the president defers to the recommendations of the home state's U.S. senators for these positions.

    In 1979, Wisconsin's two U.S. senators, William Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson, established the Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission, a tradition that has continued to the present day. Democratic and Republican senators have used the commission for every federal judicial and U.S. attorney vacancy in the past 30 years, under both Republican and Democratic administrations.




  • Ethical Dilemmas
    File-sharing and the Privilege of Confidential Materials

    In the era of cloud-based computing, security must be a paramount concern for lawyers when it comes to client information. Who is responsible when an office staff person inadvertently shares a link to confidential files to the opposing party in discovery?
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    March 15, 2017 – What happens when an office staff person inadvertently shares a link to confidential files to the opposing party in discovery?

    Question

    I’ve been retained by an insurance company to defend against a fire loss claim. The insurance company investigator is looking into the factual allegations, and I’ve instructed one of my office staff to work with the investigator. Time went by, and as discovery progressed, I came to learn that my office staff person had placed significant portions of our file on an online file-sharing site to share with the investigator. Unfortunately, it turns out that we produced the link to the file-sharing site to the opposing party in discovery, and now opposing counsel has accessed and downloaded the file from the file-sharing site.

    Have we lost privilege with respect to those materials?

    Answer

    This subject is based on the facts of a recent magistrate judge’s memorandum opinion in Harleysville Insurance Co. v. Holding Funeral Home, Inc., 2017 BL 39590 W.D. Va., No. 1:15cv00057.

    In that case, an employee of the insurance company uploaded the claims file to Box, a file sharing site. The employee shared the link with an investigator and Harleysville’s counsel, but the site was not password protected, and was available for viewing and downloading by anyone who came across the site. A copy of the hyperlink to the file was produced to opposing counsel as part of the response to a discovery request.

    After counsel for the insurance company (Harleysville) learned that opposing counsel had accessed the file, counsel filed a motion arguing that the file materials posted on the file-sharing site were privileged, and that opposing counsel should be disqualified for accessing the materials.

    Taking Reasonable Measures

    In considering whether the file materials were privileged, the magistrate noted that anyone with a link to the materials could access the file, and that they were placed on the site intentionally. The magistrate’s opinion, which is worth quoting at some length, then focused on the reasonableness of precautions taken to prevent disclosure, or put another way, the steps taken to preserve the confidentiality of the information. He stated:

    With regard to the reasonableness of the precautions taken to prevent the disclosure, the court has no evidence before it that any precautions were taken to prevent this disclosure. The employee who uploaded Harleysville's Claims File to the Box Site had used the site previously to share information with a third-party, the NICB. It does not matter whether this employee believed that this site would function for only a short period of time or that the information uploaded to the site would be accessible for only a short period of time. Because of his previous use of the Box Site, this employee either knew — or should have known — that the information uploaded to the site was not protected in any way and could be accessed by anyone who simply clicked on the hyperlink. Despite this, this employee purposefully uploaded the Claims File to the Box Site, making it accessible to anyone with access to the internet, thus making the extent of the disclosure vast. Also, Harleysville has stated that the Claims File was uploaded on April 26, 2016. The entire Claims File remained accessible on the Box Site until sometime after October 27, 2016, the date that Harleysville's counsel asserts that they discovered that defense counsel had the Claims File. Harleysville concedes that no action was taken any earlier than this date to block access to the Claims File despite the fact that Harleysville's counsel, themselves, used the unprotected hyperlink to access the Box Site to download the Claims File sometime after it was uploaded on April 26. Therefore, they, too, knew — or should have known — that the information was accessible on the internet. The court in Walton plainly stated, "waiver may occur if the disclosing party failed to take reasonable measures to ensure and maintain the document's confidentiality, or to take prompt and reasonable steps to rectify the error." 694 S.E.2d at 552.

    Based on these facts, I find that Harleysville has waived any claim of attorney-client privilege with regard to the information posted to the Box Site. It has conceded that the Box Site was not password protected and that the information uploaded to this site was available for viewing by anyone, anywhere who was connected to the internet and happened upon the site by use of the hyperlink or otherwise. In essence, Harleysville has conceded that its actions were the cyber world equivalent of leaving its claims file on a bench in the public square and telling its counsel where they could find it. It is hard to imagine an act that would be more contrary to protecting the confidentiality of information than to post that information to the World Wide Web.

    The court believes that its decision on this issue fosters the better public policy. The technology involved in information sharing is rapidly evolving. Whether a company chooses to use a new technology is a decision within that company's control. If it chooses to use a new technology, however, it should be responsible for ensuring that its employees and agents understand how the technology works, and, more importantly, whether the technology allows unwanted access by others to its confidential information.

    (emphasis added)

    On Disqualification

    The magistrate then focused on the issue of disqualification. After considering two Virginia State Bar Ethics Opinions, as well as federal and state court rules, the opinion states as follows:

    This court should demand better, and the ruling here is intended not to merely tolerate the bare minimum ethically compliant behavior, but, instead, to encourage the highest professional standards from those attorneys who practice before the court. The court holds that, by using the hyperlink contained in the email also containing the Confidentiality Notice to access the Box Site, defense counsel should have realized that the Box Site might contain privileged or protected information. This belief should have been further confirmed when defense counsel realized that the Box Site contained not only the Video, but Harleysville's Claims File. That being the case, defense counsel should have contacted Harleysville's counsel and revealed that it had access to this information. If defense counsel believed that the circumstances which allowed its access to the information waived any claim of privilege or protection, they should have asked the court to decide the issue before making any use of or disseminating the information. Counsel chose not to do so, however, and, therefore, the court believes that such conduct requires some sanction.

    The magistrate then imposed the costs of hearing the motion on defense counsel.

    What This Means for Confidentiality

    There are a few points to take away from this opinion.

    1. Take steps to ensure the confidentiality of client information.

    SCR 20:1.6(d) states:

    A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.

    This recent addition to SCR 20:1.6 (1/1/17) imposes a black letter duty on lawyers to act reasonably to prevent the unauthorized access to client information, including client information stored in electronic form with third-party service providers, such as file-sharing sites. Needless to say, such sites where information is unencrypted and easily accessible to anyone with a link should not be used by lawyers, and while this is not a disciplinary case, it’s not difficult to apply this rule to these facts. While sharing information online is convenient, security must be a paramount concern for lawyers when it comes to client information.

    See Wisconsin Ethics Opinion EF-15-01 for guidance with respect to use of such third-party service providers.

    2. Make sure your staff understands your duty of confidentiality.

    SCR 20:5.3 imposes a duty on lawyers to make reasonable efforts to assure that nonlawyers under their supervision conduct themselves in ways that are compatible with the lawyer’s professional duties. Thus, for example, a lawyer who entrusts the handling of client information in electronic form to nonlawyer assistants is responsible for providing reasonable training and guidance to assure that the nonlawyer protects the confidentiality of that information. This means that everyone in a law firm who handles client information and uses the internet understands the importance of security.

    3. Be careful with privileged materials.

    The magistrate judge in this case viewed counsel for the funeral home as having an obligation to notify counsel for Harleysville that it had received access to the claims file. But in this case, it isn’t clear that the link to the file-sharing site was inadvertently sent to counsel for the funeral home, and there is no explicit obligation under the disciplinary rules to notify opposing counsel when in receipt of privileged information that was not inadvertently sent to the recipient. SCR 20:4.4 does require such notification, but only when information is sent inadvertently.

    Nonetheless, some courts have a tendency to believe that lawyers have an obligation to notify the holder of the privilege (or their lawyer) whenever they have access to privileged information. For example, in In re Eisenstein, 2016 BL 107979, Mo., the Missouri Supreme Court held that a lawyer whose client gave the lawyer copies of the opposing party’s privileged materials (thus the materials were not inadvertently sent to the lawyer) had an obligation to promptly notify opposing counsel pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 4-4.4(a), despite the fact that rule contains no notice requirement.

    While the recently adopted SCR 20:4.4(c) provides guidance to lawyers who receive privileged information, the plain language of the rule limits its requirements to information that is inadvertently sent to the lawyer. Lawyers should carefully consider the handling of any materials that appear to be privileged and whether notification of opposing counsel is warranted.

    In Case You Missed It: Read Past Ethical Dilemmas

    Ethical Dilemmas appears monthly in InsideTrack. Check out these topics from recent issues:

    Must Former Counsel Provide a Client File in a Second Format?, Feb. 15, 2017

    When a former client retains new counsel and that counsel requests the client’s file, the former counsel has an obligation to provide the file in a format useable by the client. But is the former counsel ethically required to give the file in both electronic and paper formats?

    May a Lawyer Convert a Contingent Fee Contract to Hourly if the Lawyer Decides to Withdraw?, Jan. 18, 2017

    If a client refuses to accept even the most favorable settlement offers despite tremendous effort by the lawyer, can the lawyer, who was working on a contingency fee, withdraw and charge an hourly rate for the time spent on the cases?

    For more, search “ethical dilemmas” on WisBar.org.




  • On Family Law
    Lawyer-mediators Drafting Settlement Agreements: Will It Work in Complex Cases?

    New SCR 20:2.4(c), effective on July 1, 2017, allows lawyer-mediators to draft settlement documents in family cases. In the majority of cases, this rule will save time and money for parties, observes the author. However, in complex situations, this rule could create problems.

    Gregg M. Herman

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    March 15, 2017 – Following a public hearing on Jan. 12, 2017, the Wisconsin Supreme Court amended SCR 20:2.4(c) to allow a lawyer serving as the mediator in a case arising under Chapter 767 to draft the formal settlement documents. The rule requires that the lawyer obtain written consent from both parties, which would include disclosing any interest or relationship that might affect the mediator’s impartiality. The lawyer/mediator may file the settlement documents with the court, but cannot appear in court on behalf of either or both of the parties.

    Is this Rule a Good Idea?

    First, in my years of practice, there is little that has had a more profound effect upon the practice of family law than the use of mediation. When I first started, it was pretty much unknown. The use of mediation started in custody/placement disputes and, eventually, became mandatory in those cases.  Today, it is unusual to litigate a case, even on financial issues, without first attempting mediation. The effect is a substantial decrease in litigation of family law cases. Overall, this is extremely positive for the parties and especially for their children.

    Gregg Hermancom gherman loebherman Gregg Herman is a family law attorney with Loeb & Herman S.C. His primary office is in Milwaukee. Gregg is the co-editor of the System Book for Family Law, published by the State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE and is a former chair of the State Bar and American Bar Association family law sections. Follow Gregg’s opinions on his family law blog.

    Second, there is, in my opinion at least, still a substantial role for representation in some of these cases. The interesting part of practicing family law is the unique nature of each and every case in which we are involved. To use a “cookie-cutter approach” in which the same resolution works equally well for every party fails to use the variety of tools available to lawyers to customize a result that best serves the circumstances.

    Third, law is only semantics. All we have to use is words. Therefore, the choice of words can have a critically important effect on the parties’ future. 

    With that said, there are many cases in which allowing a mediator to write the agreement would do good with minimal risk of any harm. A great deal of mediation involves placement issues in which the wording of the document deals only with dates and times. It is difficult to see circumstances in which the choice of words would make any difference to the parties. On the other hand, having the mediator, who is familiar with the agreement, put the agreement in writing saves time and money for the parties. 

    Further, most of the cases in our family law system do not involve significant amounts of money or sophisticated negotiations. In those cases, it is, again, difficult to see how the choice of words could make a difference, whereas the savings for the parties could be significant. 

    The concern with the mediator writing the agreements are those cases where there are difficult or sophisticated issues. One would think that, in those cases, the parties would have lawyers available to advise them and draft any necessary documents. However, that is not always the case. I am amazed at the number of cases in which the parties could well afford lawyers, needed them, but chose to proceed without them. Some of those people proceeded without lawyers for cost reasons. Others see lawyers as fire throwers, while most lawyers are fire fighters (certainly the good ones).  Further, there are a number of mediators who do not insist that these parties have attorneys and are perfectly happy mediating (and, now, writing) agreements in situations where the parties need and can afford separate counsel.

    It is in those limited number of cases in which this rule can create problems. When the issues are difficult or complex, choosing the right words and negotiating the choice of these words can significantly impact the parties’ future. As an example, it is common that parties in high-income cases negotiate support not just as a simple matter of time and dollars, but also to avoid complex issues and the expense of future litigation if they need to interpret or modify the agreement. Moreover, in certain property division issues, using attorneys to draft the settlement documents can significantly help the parties choose words designed to effectuate the intent of the parties. While this can be done by a mediator, generally, the mediation involves broad strokes. As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details."

    Conclusion

    In the majority of cases (maybe even the vast majority), this rule will save time and money for parties. However, I am hoping that mediators will recommend – or even insist – that in cases where parties can afford attorneys, that they retain their services in drafting documents (and, even better, in negotiating them) to avoid the risk of future litigation. In those cases, the mediator can truly be neutral.

    Also of Interest

    Lawyer-mediators vs. Lawyer-advocates: Different Skills Required,” Diane Diel, Feb. 15, 2017, InsideTrack

    Court Approved: Family Law Mediators Can Draft Settlement Documents,” Joe Forward, Jan. 18, 2017, InsideTrack




  • West's Jury Verdicts, Bench Decisions, Settlements, and Arbitration Awards

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    March 15, 2017 – As a service to its members, the State Bar of Wisconsin has entered into an alliance agreement with West, a Thomson Reuters business, to provide award information on Wisconsin civil jury trials, bench trials, settlements, and arbitrations. West's editorial staff selects a few key Wisconsin cases from Westlaw's® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports to highlight in each issue of WisBar InsideTrack.

    This Edition’s Featured Cases:

    Thomas v. DCS Transport Services (Wis. Cir. Ct. - Milwaukee County)

    Negligence - Settlement: $650,000
    $650K Settlement for Wheelchair Fall

    Kowalski v. Reliance Transportation (Wis. Cir. Ct. - Milwaukee County)

    Negligence - Settlement: $90,000
    Negligently Maintained Trailer Causes Injuries

    Adam v. West Bend Mutual Insurance (Wis. Cir. Ct. - Milwaukee County)

    Vehicle Negligence - Verdict: $84,049
    Jury Awards $84K for Intersection MVA

    State Bar members can:

    • Request a full case summary, free of charge
    • Submit their own case results for online publication in Westlaw’s® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports, free of charge
    • Order a paid online subscription to Westlaw’s® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports
    • Contact West: com west.juryverdicts thomsonreuters thomsonreuters west.juryverdicts com or (800) 689-9378

    For State Bar members submitting their own results for publication, West will:

    • Send each submitter a pdf of his/her published case as it appears online in Westlaw’s® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports, free of charge
    • Consider featuring the case in the State Bar’s WisBar InsideTrack publication

    © 2017 Thomson Reuters/West. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this Web site for their own personal and noncommercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters/West content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters/West.




  • Honor Retiring Executive Director George Brown at Spring Events – and Support the Law Foundation

    After 16 years as executive director of the State Bar of Wisconsin, George Brown retires July 1. Join us as we celebrate his service and his career, at receptions held in his honor in April and May.
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    George Brown

    March 15, 2017 – George Brown has served the State Bar of Wisconsin for nearly 30 years in various roles – the last 16 as executive director. Brown retires July 1.

    “George's impact on the State Bar of Wisconsin has been perhaps the most consequential of any person in the recent history of the bar,” said State Bar Past President Ralph Cagle. “He has built an organization and professional staff that provides one of the most complete arrays of services to members of any bar in the country.”

    The State Bar and the Wisconsin Law Foundation invite you to raise a glass to honor Brown at receptions held in Madison, Green Bay, and Milwaukee in April and May:

    • Brocach Irish Pub: 7 W. Main St., Madison; 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    • Titletown Brewing Company: 200 Dousman St., Green Bay; 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 2, 2017

    • Louise’s Restaurant: 801 N. Jefferson St., Milwaukee; 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, May 4, 2017

    Brown has served in the State Bar’s chief executive officer role since May 2000, guiding program and policy direction and the implementation of policy decisions set by the State Bar’s 52-member board. Under his leadership, the State Bar has become a viable organization with more tools to assist its 25,000 members.

    “I believe in what this organization is doing,” said Brown. “And I believe that lawyers are the true guardians of society. It’s a privilege to help attorneys in the work they do.”

    Brown will be succeeded by Associate Executive Director Larry Martin. Martin, also the current director of the Wisconsin Law Foundation, has served in two staff leadership roles since joining the State Bar in 2011, first as the State Bar’s member services director, then advancing to associate executive director in 2014.

    Read InsideTrack to find out more about Brown and his career with the State Bar. Learn more about Martin in this article in InsideTrack.

    Support the Wisconsin Law Foundation in Honor of George Brown

    At Executive Director George Brown’s request, the receptions held in his honor include an opportunity to further the mission and work of the Wisconsin Law Foundation, the charitable arm of the State Bar of Wisconsin. 

    The Foundation supports programs such as High School Mock Trial, teen court, leadership scholarships, and law-related public education programs, and its grants help provide access to legal services for those who cannot afford them.

    Attendees are asked to contribute a suggested donation of $50. However, all contributions are gratefully accepted.

    Thanks to the underwriting sponsors of these events – Quarles & Brady, Foley & Lardner, Perkins Coie, and OneTouchPoint printers – 100 percent of all contributions go directly into growing the Foundation’s programs.

    How to Donate:

    • Donate online
    • Contact Beth Drake at the State Bar at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6171
    • Send contributions to: Wisconsin Law Foundation, 5302 Eastpark Blvd., Madison, WI 53718

    How to RSVP:

    • Contact Beth Drake at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6171, or email org wlf-fellows wisbar wisbar wlf-fellows org.