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    Vol. 79, No. 2, February 2006

    Legal news & trendsLegal News & Trends

    New Dane County Courthouse steps into the 21st century; technology offers easy access to justice

    When the new Dane County Courthouse opened its doors for business on Jan. 17, access to justice joined with technology. Lawyers and the public use a touch-screen display to locate the courtrooms in the county's first "green" building. The courtrooms include electronic communications systems, and ultimately several courtrooms will provide videoconferencing capabilities. Laptop Internet connections also are available for lawyers, litigants, and prospective jurors.

    Dane County Courthouse

    Located on S. Hamilton St. between W. Wilson and Doty streets, the $44 million, 10-story Dane County Courthouse was built using many recycled and environmentally friendly materials.

    "The building's construction facilitates accessibility by those with special needs and provides state-of-the-art electronic communication systems," said Dane County Bar Association President Marsha Mansfield at the Jan. 6 opening ceremony. "There is plenty of space for litigants to meet with lawyers and for lawyers and the public to do research and work. More courtrooms will allow trials to be scheduled expeditiously, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to access the courts and to be treated fairly once they are in the court system."

    "The County Board recognized that the old courthouse was unsafe, overcrowded, and generally a grim setting for the work of justice," said Judge Daniel R. Moeser.

    In the old courthouse in the City County Building, witnesses, victims, defendants, jurors, and members of the public mingled in the halls, noted Chief Judge Michael N. Nowakowski. "Judges and court commissioners often held hearings in offices due to a lack of courtrooms," said Nowakowski. "The courtroom setting lends dignity and authority to the proceedings. Courtrooms also are public spaces, and justice should not be dispensed behind closed doors."

    Madison attorney Barbara Whitish chaired the Courthouse Committee, which was instrumental in advocating needs of lawyers and litigants. "This committee was an effective liaison between the court system and the Dane County Bar," said Mansfield. "They have worked very diligently on this project addressing everything from construction to artwork. This new courthouse will meet the needs of lawyers, judges, and the public for many years."

    Rosa Parks attorney Fred Gray receives Wisconsin MLK Lifetime Achievement Award, pledges continued fight for equal justice

    Civil rights attorney Fred Gray, who represented Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., received the Wisconsin Annual MLK National Lifetime Achievement Award at the 26th Annual State of Wisconsin Tribute and Ceremony honoring Dr. King. The ceremony, which is the oldest state celebration nationwide, was held on Jan. 16 at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

    Nationally acclaimed journalist Tony Brown, who coordinated the historic Walk To Freedom that was led by Dr. King, was the keynote speaker. Brown and James Cameron, founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee and the only living survivor of a 1930 lynching in Ohio, also received lifetime achievement awards.

    Civil rights attorney Fred Gray, inset at Capitol

    More than 2,000 people attended the 26th Annual State of Wisconsin Tribute and Ceremony honoring Martin Luther King Jr. at the State Capitol in January. (Inset) Civil rights attorney Fred Gray, State Bar of Alabama past president, pledged to continue the fight for equal justice.

    In his remarks, Gray, who is a past Alabama State Bar president and the first African American to hold the position, said, "I humbly accept this award on behalf of the thousands of clients who during the last 51 years trusted me to handle their legal cases. Many of them resulted in breaking down the walls of segregation and changing the landscape of America. I particularly accept this award on behalf of those unknown clients. You know about Rosa Parks and Dr. King, but you don't know about all of the other unknown heroes whose names will never appear in print and the faces that will never appear on television. I pledge to you that I will continue to fight for equal justice under the law until all of God's children are free."

    Determined to right the wrongs Gray found in his native Alabama, Gray has been at the forefront of changing the social fabric of America regarding desegregation, integration, constitutional law, racial discrimination in voting, housing, education, jury service, farm subsidies, medicine and ethics, and generally improving the national judicial system for more than 50 years.

    The State Bar sponsored a reception for members immediately preceding the ceremony. "I was particularly proud to host the reception in honor of Fred Gray prior to the state's celebration," says State Bar Past President Michelle Behnke. "I first met Fred Gray at the National Conference of Bar Presidents. He has been an inspiration to many bar leaders of color. He has been incredibly generous with his time serving the legal profession both within the State of Alabama and within the ABA. It is because of the work of attorneys like Fred Gray that great strides have been made in the area of civil rights."

    The annual event is a production of Africasong Communications Inc. Wisconsin Public Radio's Jonathan Overby is the executive director.

    ABA conference focuses on getting the most out of technology in your practice

    The State Bar of Wisconsin is a cosponsor at the annual ABA TECHSHOW®, scheduled from April 20 to 22 in Chicago, earning State Bar members a discount. The conference will feature 60 legal technology programs and training sessions and more than 100 technology vendors showing the latest in legal technology products and services.

    The ABA Law Practice Management Section will host an educational track providing practical, down-to-earth practice management advice for both the tech-savvy and the techno-novice. A vendor track also will be offered providing demonstrations of new software and technological tools and product information.

    Education tracks include advanced information technology, e-discovery, e-lawyering, Internet, litigation, malpractice prevention, solo and small firm, support staff, interest group roundtables, and more.

    Mention the State Bar promoter code PP117 and receive a $100 discount on the three-day fee of $895. Register by March 10 to receive an additional $200 early bird discount.

    The programs have been submitted for CLE credits.

    Mandatory court form updates: criminal, general, and guardianship

    As of Oct. 20, 2005, the Wisconsin Records Management Committee has updated and introduced the following forms. Key: New (N)/Revised (R)

    CR-203 Bail/Bond (R)
    CR-260 Order Concerning Sentence Adjustment (R)\
    CV-404 Injunction (Domestic Abuse) (R)
    CV-407 Injunction (Harassment) (R)
    CV-414 Injunction (Child Abuse) (R)

    GF-165 Bench Warrant - Civil (R)
    GF-172 Notice of Certification (R)

    GN-2050 Notice of Placement by Appropriate Board or Designated Agency (N)

    PR-1825 Notice of Delinquent Estate (R)

    Small Claims
    SC-500 Summons & Complaint (R)
    SC-500E Summons & Complaint (Electronic Filing) (R)
    SC-506 Order for Financial Disclosure & Financial Disclosure Statement (R)
    SC-509 Minutes - Small Claims (R)

    Forms and summaries are available in PDF or MS Word format at www.wisbar.org/forms. For more information, contact Terri Borrud at (608) 266-7143 or gov terri.borrud wicourts wicourts terri.borrud gov.