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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    June 01, 2003

    Letters to the Editor

    Nicholas Zales; Daniel Flaherty

    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 76, No. 6, June 2003


    Letters to the editor: The Wisconsin Lawyer publishes as many letters in each issue as space permits. Please limit letters to 500 words; letters may be edited for length and clarity. Letters should address the issues, and not be a personal attack on others. Letters endorsing political candidates cannot be accepted. Please mail letters to "Letters to the Editor," Wisconsin Lawyer, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, fax them to (608) 257-4343, or email them to

    Interesting photo placement

    I thought there was some rather unplanned and unintended humor in a recent brochure advertising the State Bar convention, with pictures of four persons famous in the history of the Wisconsin bar. The photographs included Rhoda Lavinia Goodell (first female admitted to practice law before the Wisconsin Supreme Court) and Chief Justice Edward G. Ryan. The caption at the top of the brochure was "Celebrate the Past. Prepare for the Future."

    I am sure that the juxtaposition of Ms. Goodell's picture, which was somewhat overlapped by that of Chief Justice Ryan, was accidental, but it added an additional humorous note to the brochure. At least to some of us older lawyers, it recalled the colorful language used by Chief Ryan in the court's order denying Ms. Goodell admission to the bar (35 Wis. 232, 1875). Speaking for the unanimous court, Ryan's opinion emphasized the sanctity of womanhood and the need to protect women from language that lawyers dealt with, including such things as rape, incest, and so on. If you haven't read that opinion lately, I invite you to do so, just for the laughs.

    Four years later, the same application of Ms. Goodell was again before the court, but in the meantime the Wisconsin Legislature had legislated that "[n]o person shall be denied admission or license to practice as an attorney in any court of this state on account of sex," and our supreme court reluctantly granted Ms. Goodell's petition. After expressing reservations as to whether the Legislature had the power to legislate such matters, the court stated that it was admitting Ms. Goodell "in deference to the wishes of a coordinate branch of the government, without considering the question of power." (48 Wis. 693).

    A footnote to that opinion adds to the humor: "The publication of this decision, in the reports, has been delayed in the expectation that a dissenting opinion would be prepared by the Chief Justice. - Rep." One suspects that in the several months the court awaited the Chief Justice's dissenting opinion, Chief Ryan was unable to write a dissent in words that were acceptable to the mores of the time, and he simply gave up trying to do so.

    Daniel T. Flaherty
    La Crosse

    Convention was magnificent

    I write to offer my highest regards and congratulations to the entire staff of the State Bar of Wisconsin for putting on a magnificent convention. I do not recall ever learning more, seeing more interesting people, and having more fun than I did at the Milwaukee convention. I had the opportunity to observe our staff in action and to meet many of them, and I was very impressed. They are a very professional group of dedicated employees.

    As a State Bar Governor representing District II, I was very pleased with the entire convention. All the staff involved should be very proud of what you achieved. Likewise, the State Bar's Convention and Entertainment Committee deserves great credit for this successful event. I look forward to seeing the great things that will be offered at the 2004 convention in Madison.

    Nicholas C. Zales

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