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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    October 12, 2018


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    High School Student Starts Blog on SCOTUS Decisions

    US Supreme Court

    Anna Salvatore, a high school student in New Jersey, has started a blog called High School SCOTUS. The blog analyzes U.S. Supreme Court cases. She has five contributors, all in or recently graduated from high school.

    It began as a blog about specific cases affecting high school students but has morphed into something with a broader focus.

    “High schoolers should care because the Supreme Court is enormously influential in our society,” Salvatore told NPR.

    “It makes decisions that affect where we can live, what rights we have when we’re arrested, who we can marry, how much power a president has, and so many other things.”

    Speaking of high school students and the law, this month the State Bar of Wisconsin’s High School Mock Trial Program is releasing the 2018-19 case materials. Students will study the materials and practice, with the help of volunteer attorneys, before mock trial competition begins in February. Last season, 122 teams participated. Shorewood High School took the title.

    Source: NPR

    By the Numbers


    The number of years since the results on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) were this low. The MBE is a 200-question, multiple-choice examination. Exam takers have six hours to complete it, typically on day one of the multi-day bar exam.

    Nearly 45,000 people took the July MBE, the smallest group of aspiring lawyers to take it since 2001. The scores dropped to 139.5– the lowest level since 1984.

    “We’ll know more in the months to come, but it looks like another year of decline will cause some continued anguish in legal education,” wrote law professor and blogger Derek Muller. “The increased quality of law school applicants this year will help the July 2021 bar exam look much better.”

    Graduates of Wisconsin law schools are not required to take a bar exam. Wisconsin is the only state with the “diploma privilege.”

    Source: ABA Journal, National Conference of Bar Examiners


    “I mean, it’s legal, right?”

    Elon Musk sketch

    – Elon Musk, CEO of electric-car maker Tesla and space technology company SpaceX, before smoking marijuana on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast last month.

    The show was video-streamed live online from California, where recreational marijuana use is legal. Rogen, a comedian, told Musk it was “totally legal.”

    But after the podcast, CNBC published an article that said the U.S. Air Force is investigating the incident, because SpaceX is a military government contractor. According to the article, “marijuana use is prohibited for someone with a government security clearance, which Musk may have because of the contracts SpaceX has with the Air Force.”

    Other media outlets reported that Tesla stock took a hit around the same time Musk did, and that Musk may have violated Tesla company policy, which prohibits illegal drug use in the workplace.

    Vector illustration: Elon Musk, June 09, 2015. Palo Alto, CA, USA. Sketch by hand.

    On the Radar

    Proposed Bill Would Make PACER Documents Free

    Pacer logo

    A Georgia Congressman introduced the Electronic Court Records Reform Act of 2018 in September. The Act would make all documents on the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system free to access. PACER is the electronic document repository for the federal court system.

    The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), a lawyer, said “Americans deserve a justice system that is transparent and accessible. I introduced the Electronic Court Records Reform Act to modernize the judicial records systems and remove fee-for-access barriers that technology has rendered unnecessary.”

    Currently, PACER charges up to 10 cents per page to access federal court documents with a $3 cap that does not apply to “name search results, lists of cases, or online transcripts.”

    Source: ABA Journal,

    Did You Know?

    How Are You Doing? Score Your Solo or Small Firm

    WSSFC logo

    Want to know where your solo or small firm stands in the areas of strategy, systems, marketing, client service, finances, and other crucial areas?

    The Lawyerist, which fosters a community of solo and small firm lawyers, is offering the Solo Practice Scorecard and the Small Firm Scorecard. These are guided self-assessments “designed to help small firms assess their strengths and weaknesses in order to determine whether your firm is positioned for success in the future.” Just go to

    The 2018 State Bar of Wisconsin Solo and Small Firm Conference, Oct. 25-27, at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, offers plenty of practical sessions on a variety of topics of special interest to solo and small firm lawyers, as well as opportunities to socialize and relax. Learn more and register at

    From the Archive

    Controversy Not New: U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings

    Ulysses S Grant portrait

    Last month, much of the news concerned controversy surrounding Brett Kavanaugh, the U.S. Supreme Court nominee whose fate was still unclear at the time of this writing. Controversy is nothing new.

    The very first confirmation hearing in the country’s history, which occurred in 1873, was not without controversy. In fact, President Ulysses S. Grant withdrew his nominee, George Williams, after the Senate Judiciary Committee held closed-door sessions to examine allegations that Williams used government funds for household expenses while serving as U.S. Attorney General.

    Unlike current practice, confirmation hearings were not open to the public until 1916, when nominee Louis Brandeis was confirmed. Nominees did not actually testify before the committee until 1925, when Harlan Stone became the first to do so.

    Source: Paul Collins Jr. & Lori Ringhand, The Institutionalization of Supreme Court Hearings, 41 L. & Soc. Inquiry 126 (2016).

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