I know I am not the only one deeply troubled by the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the toll it has taken on the public’s trust in the fairness of our justice system. The plain truth is that there are racial disparities in our legal system and that many Wisconsin residents, particularly those of color, lack access to justice. But change does not happen when we are comfortable or complacent. It happens when we recognize we can make a difference, and in fact, must make a difference.
Over 15 years ago, I became active in the State Bar of Wisconsin so that I could be part of building a better and more fair justice system. I wanted to eliminate barriers to accessing justice and create systems where the rule of law applied equally to all. While we have made strides in advancing equal justice, these events remind us that much more work is still needed.
The State Bar’s Mission and Vision provides that we, the members of the State Bar of Wisconsin, “are the respected guardians of the dignity and integrity of the rule of law within a fair and accessible justice system.” We must now work together to help rebuild the public’s trust and confidence in the rule of law while at the same time work to ensure that all Wisconsin residents have access to a fair and impartial system of justice.
Please join me in working toward the goal of equal justice for all.
Jill M. Kastner
President, State Bar of Wisconsin