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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    November 01, 2016


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    Ness Flores Receives Distinguished Service Award

    Ness Flores

    In “From Migrant Farmworker to Judge: Ness Flores Is Pathbreaker for Latino Lawyers” (InsideTrack, Oct. 5, 2016), State Bar communications writer Shannon Green wrote about Flores’ upbringing in Texas in a family of immigrant farmworkers, and how he overcame obstacles to become a legal services lawyer, circuit court judge, state government lawyer, and litigator.

    Green wrote that Flores, a pioneer Latino lawyer in Wisconsin who has spent many years of his career ensuring access by Spanish-speaking individuals to the legal system and who crafted Wisconsin’s migrant farmworker laws, is a co-recipient of the Wisconsin Law Foundation’s Charles L. Goldberg Distinguished Service Award. Readers reacted to Flores’ inspirational story.

    Reader: As a former assistant state public defender, and current adult English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor, I was instantly intrigued by the article’s headline. As I delved into the contents of Shannon Green’s article, I realized that even though the intended reader was likely Wisconsin lawyers, my ESL students would greatly benefit from learning about the Hon. Ness Flores, a pathbreaker for Latino lawyers.

    Our ESL class is currently learning about goals and obstacles, and I have incorporated the inspirational article into our curriculum. The ESL classroom, comprised of ambitious future doctors, computer engineers, business owners, and more, is engrossed in the article detailing the path that Judge Flores took from the Texas/Mexico border to the judicial bench in Wisconsin, and beyond. Lightbulbs have truly been turning on, while learning that Judge Flores spoke only Spanish until age 7, and that he fought for legislation on behalf of migrant workers. I literally can see my students relating to the article: “I am doing the right thing balancing work and ESL two nights per week…” ; “I am learning English and dedicating my life to the American dream…”; “My child is 7 and already knows both Spanish and English … their future is so bright…”.

    There are many textbooks available in the ESL and legal markets; however, the nonfiction account of Judge Flores soaring over obstacles, and literally over vegetable fields, while never losing sight of “helping those who need help,” should be a bestseller in benevolence.

    Brigette Kutschma,
    Lake Geneva

    Reader: Ness is a great person and very, very deserving of this award.

    Len Jastroch,
    Fallbrook, Calif.

    Reader: Ness is a kind and caring man, a good lawyer, and has been a role model for me. He has been able to mix with governors and supreme court justices on one hand and has always been willing and able to represent the disadvantaged on the other.

    Hon. Ralph Ramirez,
    Waukesha County Circuit Court

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    Improving the Role of GALS in Family Court Matters

    anxious child

    In “Guardians ad Litem: Time to Improve This Critical Role for Children, Families, Lawyers, and Courts” (InsideTrack, Oct. 19, 2016), four co-authors issued a call to action for the legal profession and judiciary to take responsibility for being a positive force for change and improvement of guardian ad litem (GAL) practices. On behalf of the children in family court, the co-authors urge GALs and courts to work together to consistently implement GAL guidelines to ensure a common experience county by county for parents, lawyers, and courts. A reader posted a comment.

    Reader: I hope that these guidelines are considered thoughtful suggestions and won’t be viewed as required practices. I have serious concerns about some of them but appreciate the overall focus.

    Gretchen Viney,
    Viney & Viney, Baraboo

    Terry Dunst Receives the John Lederer Service Award

    Terry Dunst

    In “Terry Dunst: A Leader and Teacher to Solo and Small-firm Lawyers” (InsideTrack, Oct. 19), Shannon Green explained how Dunst uses his strong background in technology to help fellow lawyers, which resulted in his receiving the 2016 John Lederer Service Award.

    The award is named in memory of attorney John Lederer, who saw it as his mission to help solo and small-firm lawyers master skills and technology to build their practices. Lederer was a visionary when it came to implementing technology into the practice of law. A reader posted a comment.

    Reader: Congratulations, Terry! Your generosity of time, knowledge, and enthusiasm on behalf of your fellow lawyers and the State Bar are much appreciated.

    Kathryn Bullon,
    Deerhaven Consulting Services
    Sombra, Canada

    Justice Prosser Retires from Wisconsin Supreme Court

    Justice David Prosser

    In “Outside the Box: Justice Prosser on His Career and the Supreme Court” (Wisconsin Lawyer, July/August 2016), State Bar legal writer Joe Forward interviewed Justice David Prosser about his career, opinion writing, judicial independence, recusal, and collegiality. Prosser explained his somewhat unusual path to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the legacy he hopes to leave, and his decision to retire with five years remaining on his 10-year term. Readers weighed in.

    Reader: The recent article on the retirement of Justice David Prosser contained some interesting information about the justice’s background, including various forms of his commendable public service, but it did not include a complete picture of his tenure on the supreme court. In my view, he shares responsibility for the embarrassing decline of the court’s dignity and reputation over the past several years.

    The justice bemoans the loss of civility between members of the court, but the article did not refer to his own use of vulgar language in an exchange with another justice, nor did it refer to a separate incident in which Justice Prosser placed his hands around the neck of another justice during a confrontation. (Justice Prosser denied that it was intentional.)

    The Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed an ethics complaint against him in connection with the hands-to-the-neck incident. In its recommendation for discipline, the Commission asserted that Justice Prosser had “demonstrated a tendency toward lack of proper decorum and civility.” The complaint went nowhere, however, because three justices recused themselves, resulting in the lack of a quorum.

    Our supreme court has traditionally served as a positive example of how judges and attorneys are to conduct themselves, including and even especially when facing challenging circumstances. Sadly, members of the current court have all too often done the complete opposite in recent years. While Justice Prosser’s career is not entirely defined by his conduct on the court in his last several years, he has played a significant role in the process of our supreme court disgracing itself, and that is also part of his legacy.

    Keith Rodli,
    Rodli Beskar Neuhaus Murray & Pletcher S.C., River Falls

    Reader: I write to compliment you on the excellent article about Justice Prosser on the occasion of his retirement. As one of his former law clerks, I think I know him pretty well, and you did a nice job of capturing both the wide-ranging nature of his career and the depth of his dedication and service to the people of Wisconsin. His law clerks have long known what a wonderful, brilliant person he is, and I appreciate you sharing that with your readers.

    Prof. David A. Strifling, P.E.,
    Marquette University Law School, Milwaukee

    Reader: A very well-written article on a remarkable man and a remarkable career.

    Thomas Burton
    David F. Grams & Associates S.C., Middleton

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