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  • InsideTrack
  • October 11, 2021

    Making a Difference: State Bar Hosts Expungement Clinic and Local Advocacy Meetings

    The State Bar of Wisconsin worked with local Bars and legal organizations to host an expungement clinic and a legislator meeting in Kenosha and a legislator meet-and-greet in Oconomowoc in September.
    Lawmakers meeting with State Bar members in Kenosha

    Oct. 10, 2021 – For many years, the State Bar of Wisconsin has worked to advocate for expungement reform in Wisconsin, to remove unnecessary age barriers, expand options for judges to consider an expungement for a one-time, nonviolent crime, and ensure that someone who made a mistake isn’t punished for a lifetime in employment and educational opportunities.

    This policy position is informed by the work our members do, including running volunteer expungement clinics that help eligible offenders and others who have had experiences with the justice system to clear their records. On September 21, 2021, volunteers, leaders and staff from the State Bar of Wisconsin held an expungement clinic in Kenosha that helped 56 individuals to learn more about their legal rights, correct errors and remove arrest records on their criminal backgrounds, and to petition the courts for an expungement or record sealing when appropriate. The clinic was organized and run by Legal Action of Wisconsin, in partnership with the State Bar, the Kenosha County Bar Association, the Wisconsin Association of African American Lawyers, and the Urban League of Racine & Kenosha.

    You can read more about the clinic in Shannon Green’s article in Inside Track.

    One way the State Bar is working to ensure that legislators understand the issues we advocate is by holding meetings between lawmakers and our members who are their constituents. Following successful virtual meetings between State Bar members and lawyer-legislators in July, a meet and greet with Wisconsin state Representatives Scott Allen (R – Waukesha) and Adam Neylon (R – Pewaukee) was held on September 9 in Oconomowoc. With the help and participation of the Waukesha Bar Association, the meeting was held on a late summer afternoon hosted by State Bar Governor John Macy. After some time spent socializing, Representatives Allen and Neylon had the opportunity to introduce themselves to members and speak about some issues that they cared about, followed by a question and answer session.

    State Bar leaders and Reps. Scott Allen and Adam Neylon

    Another legislative meeting was held on September 17 in Kenosha with the participation of Kenosha County Bar Association members and Senator Van Wanggaard (R – Racine), State Representatives Samantha Kerkman (R – Salem), Tip McGuire (D – Kenosha), and Tod Ohnstad (D – Kenosha), and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian (D). Over a lunch served to State Bar members by Ashling on the Lough, lawmakers took turn introducing or re-introducing themselves to the local legal community, discussing legal topics of interest, and discussing ways that State Bar members can better become engaged.

    Meeting with lawmakers, either in-person or virtually, remains one of the best ways to interact with and influence the legislative process. The State Bar looks forward to continuing to meet with elected officials around the state, and encourages you to reach out if you are interested in having a meeting with your lawmakers.

    What You Can Do: State Bar of Wisconsin Advocacy Network

    Advocacy Network

    State Bar members who would like to organize an Advocacy Network meeting between members of the legal community and their lawmakers should reach out to Grassroots Outreach Coordinator Devin Martin at dmartin@wisbar.org. To send a message direct to your lawmakers directly, go to the Advocacy Network, choose "compose your own," and write a message to suit your own thoughts and opinions that will help to demonstrate the breadth of support for policies that prioritize access to justice

    You can also subscribe to the Rotunda Report and follow us on Twitter to stay informed and get involved in the legislative process.




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