“And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain.” This is my last column. Looking back, my year as State Bar President has gone incredibly fast. In part, it has been an exercise in time management, balancing the demands of the position with my law practice. But I had a lot of help from a lot of people. The year has been interesting, challenging, and enjoyable. It is impossible to recap in a single column limited to 500 words. So I’ll touch on just a few things.
com pfiedler axley Patrick J. Fiedler, Marquette 1980, is a litigator with Axley Brynelson LLP, in Madison.
The Second Chance Bill did not become a reality this legislative session. The bill would return nonviolent 17-year-old defendants to juvenile court. Many State Bar staff and members were involved in a coordinated effort to convince the legislative branch that this bill is good law. Ultimately, the bill’s demise was not due to policy reasons but to the potential fiscal impact on the counties. Our goal for the next legislative year is to have the Second Chance Bill included in the budget bill. Stay tuned.
Funding for the judicial branch of government is in a crisis situation. The total budgetary effect is a reduction of $17 million. I’ve long felt that the third branch is at a huge disadvantage when it comes to budget allocations. The courts do not have taxing and spending authority. Most state residents do not give much thought to the court system unless they have to use the courts. To me, this is an access to justice issue. Currently, 0.85 percent of every state tax dollar is earmarked for the courts. That’s less than one penny for every tax dollar! If the judicial branch tax allocation were increased to one penny per dollar, court funding would again be adequate. What can you do? Speak with your state senator and your state assemblyperson.
I am the eternal optimist. My epitaph will read, “If your glass looks half empty, then buy a round.” So let’s end on a positive note.
I am the eternal optimist. My epitaph will read, “If your glass looks half empty, then buy a round.”
The State Bar hosted the National Mock Trial Championship last month. High school students from across the country as well as from foreign countries competed. Thanks to all of you who volunteered and made this such a special event. The 2014 Annual Meeting & Conference is being held later this month. Bottom line: It’s going to be a great time. Be there or be square. This past year, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many of our members in many different settings. It’s been fun to renew old acquaintances and to make new friends. This has been the best part of the job. And it has reinforced my belief that it is a privilege to be a lawyer.
Finally, thank you. Thanks to everyone who is a member of the State Bar staff. You made my job so much easier. Thanks to State Bar leadership. Thanks to all of you who volunteer your time. Thanks to everyone at Axley for all your support. And most of all, thanks to my family. In closing, “Elvis has left the building.”