By the time this issue comes out, we will know the identity of the new president-elect of the State Bar of Wisconsin. I would like to thank not only the two well-qualified candidates who just ran but all other members who have run for leadership positions. This organization needs more people willing to devote time to the betterment of the profession, which is one of the State Bar’s seminal goals. It is personally worthwhile, although it does have its moments.
Among the entities working to improve the profession is the Judicial Council. On the ballot you recently returned, you probably voted for a candidate for the council. Many lawyers do not know what the council is or does, and I’d like to take a moment to enlighten you.
The Wisconsin Legislature created the council in 1971 to observe and study the rules of pleading, practice, and procedure and advise the Wisconsin Supreme Court on improvements thereto. Wisconsin Statutes section 758.13 sets forth the composition of the council, including the following: supreme court justice, court of appeals and circuit court judges, the chairpersons of the Senate and Assembly Judiciary and Public Safety Committees, the Wisconsin Attorney General, and lawyers – a broad cross-section of representatives of the legal system.
The council’s dedicated members do great work, analyzing potential legislation and recommending actual changes to existing laws and procedures to the supreme court and the legislature. Through an unfortunate set of circumstances last year, the council lost its funding and, thus, the staff and attorney serving the council could no longer be employed. Still, the members continue to do their best to carry out their statutory responsibilities and are continuing to turn out impressive work.
Indeed, the council has recommended, and the court has adopted, changes in the evidence rules in Wis. Stat. chapter 906 and civil rules in Wis. Stat. chapter 803. Through its efforts, Wisconsin’s class action statute has been expanded and improved. It recently filed a petition to address an omission in the default judgment rule. The council is also in the process of submitting bills to the legislature to put all statutory provisions regarding prisoner litigation in a single chapter and expand the use in litigation of unsworn statements in lieu of affidavits, regardless of where the declarant is located. The chairs of the Judiciary Committees have asked the council for suggestions to improve recently enacted 2017 Wis. Act 235, related to new discovery procedures and other civil litigation procedures.
If you are interested
in being on a State Bar
committee, I encourage
you to write a letter
to Chris Rogers, who
takes office as State Bar
President on July 1, as
he will be making these
appointments by May 23.
This group of volunteers merits being singled out for their incredible, detailed work. These are truly dedicated lawyers, legislators, and jurists who see the law as a higher calling. Let’s hope their work is funded soon.
Of course, you don’t have to run for Judicial Council to be involved in the State Bar. If you are interested in being on a State Bar committee, I encourage you to write a letter to Chris Rogers, who takes office as State Bar President on July 1, as he will be making these appointments by May 23. Or, you can always pick up the phone and call me. I’ll talk you into getting involved in our worthwhile organization.