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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    July 29, 2022


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    Judge Foley Receives Lifetime Jurist Award

    Christopher Foley

    In “Coloring Outside the Lines: Christopher Foley is Lifetime Jurist” (InsideTrack, June 15, 2022), State Bar communications writer Shannon Green wrote why Judge Foley keeps a teddy bear on the bench in his courtroom in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. “Judge Bear” was part of an award from the Jockey Being Family Foundation that supports adoption, honoring the judge for his adoption work. At adoptions, “the kids just love the bear,” Judge Foley said. “But I do have to explain it during civil trials.”

    Judge Christopher Foley is the recipient of the 2022 Lifetime Jurist award from the State Bar of Wisconsin. The award, from the State Bar Bench and Bar Committee, recognizes jurists who, during their tenure on the bench, are fair and impartial, demonstrate high ideals and personal character, and demonstrate outstanding, long-term judicial services.

    The article describes Judge Foley’s background and judicial career. Readers posted comments:

    Reader: Judge Foley absolutely deserves this award! During his brief tenure as a municipal judge for the City of Milwaukee, I was honored to appear before him as an assistant city attorney. I was fresh out of law school and I fondly recall his kind and gentle mentoring which helped me hone my trial skills. Judge Foley has truly impacted many lives in positive ways ... far more than he realizes. I wholeheartedly support Judge Christopher Foley in receiving the Lifetime Jurist award!

    Debra Schneider

    Reader: Reading this I recalled the first time I entered Judge Foley’s courtroom and was confronted by the bear. I was transfixed and stood there looking at it. Judge Foley asked me why I was standing there and I told him that I was uncertain as to whether I should be addressing the bear or himself. Judge Foley replied that I might be more successful addressing the bear.

    It was one of many memorable moments I have spent before one of Milwaukee County’s most distinguished judges.

    Laurence Moon

    Reader: Congratulations, Judge Foley, on this award, and thank you for your decades of dedication and compassionate service on the bench. From 1987 to 1989, I was a court-appointed GAL representing abused and neglected children in CHIPS cases in Milwaukee County, and had many cases before Judge Foley at the Children’s Court Center. My memory is that of a compassionate and concerned judge, working in a system that continues to be deeply flawed, at the expense of the children.

    Back then, Judge Carl Ashley was in the public defender’s office at the Children’s Court Center, and I had cases with him as well. Judge Ashley has known Judge Foley from the perspective of a defense attorney who had appeared countless times before Judge Foley, and also as a judicial colleague – a very appropriate nominator [for the Lifetime Jurist award]. Our world would benefit from having more people in all levels of our judiciary like Judge Foley.

    Jennifer Edmondson

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    Tips for New Lawyers


    In “5 Tips to Excel as a New Lawyer” (InsideTrack, June 15, 2022), Christopher Shattuck, State Bar of Wisconsin law practice assistance manager, shared tips for recent law school graduates looking to maximize their experiences as new lawyers.

    His tips: 1) Do not be afraid to ask questions. 2) Maximize your networking. 3) Boost your experience by volunteering. 4) Attend to your own wellness. 5) Explore resources for legal research.

    A reader posted a comment:

    Reader: All excellent tips, but I was especially pleased to see that exploring legal research tools made the list. However, I would caution new associates, or anyone for that matter, against spending too long researching unsuccessfully. One of the biggest pitfalls that I see law students experiencing is going down research rabbit holes that ultimately lead them nowhere.

    A good rule of thumb is that if you’ve spent more than five minutes searching unsuccessfully, ask for help. Librarians are a great place to start, especially if they are available in-house. If not, contact the Wisconsin State Law Library or the U.W. Law Library. Also, many database vendors offer free chat or phone support. Don’t be afraid to use it.

    Bonita Shucha
    U.W. Law Library, Madison

    Enjoy Your Boat, But Be Careful Out There

    kids having fun on a boat

    In “Boating Safety Begins With Knowing the Law” (InsideTrack, June 15, 2022), State Bar legal writer Jeff M. Brown told the story of the sinking of the Seabird on April 9, 1868.

    The Seabird, a paddle wheeler with two decks (one for her 100 passengers, one for cargo) and a 200-foot-long oaken hull, heading for Chicago, caught fire six miles from shore near Waukegan, Ill. She burned to the waterline, then slipped beneath the icy waves of Lake Michigan. Only three people survived.

    Few pleasure boaters are likely to find their craft engulfed in flames six miles from shore. But the wreck of the Seabird offers a cautionary tale about taking to the water without a due appreciation for boating laws, regulations, and safety requirements. Brown covers the rules of the road for boaters in the article.

    Readers posted comments:

    Reader: This is a timely and informative article! The start of the boating season is always a good time to refresh on the basics. As an instructor for the US Sail and Power Squadrons, I taught thousands of recreational boaters through basic and advanced boating courses, and as a vessel safety inspector for the USCG Auxiliary, I’ve inspected hundreds of pleasure crafts. It is astonishing how ill-prepared many boaters and their boats are.

    “Accidents” on the water are almost always attributable to negligence or violations of law. Adherence to relevant local, state, and federal law is the minimal level of boating competency. Attorneys who have boaters as clients can help greatly by advising their clients to complete at least a basic boating safety course.

    Fred Petillo
    State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison

    Reader: Many years ago, my then-boyfriend and I planned a two-week fishing trip to Rainy Lake in Ontario, Canada. Doing our homework, we learned that lake comprised 15 nautical maps, which we couldn’t read. We enrolled in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boating/navigational course in Madison, where we learned to understand the maps, navigate the lake, plot a course, basic boat maintenance, and what to do in an emergency. The information we learned in that course (and the satellite phone we purchased) saved our lives – literally.

    I encourage every boater, whether on big or small water, to take a similar course. You’ll never regret it.

    Karlé Lester
    State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison

    Remembering Judge John P. Roemer

    Judge Roemer

    I knew Judge Roemer as ADA [assistant district attorney] Roemer first. He was a quiet, genuine man in the echoing hallways of the old courthouse. His voice rarely above a whisper, he was heard when he spoke – because of his patient, courteous, and unassuming demeanor. His steady, balanced mien as a prosecutor gave no clue he was a “lawman” but instead conveyed an implicit assurance that fairness mattered above all. He was self-effacing in a sincere way. His work as minister of justice gave the lie to every DA caricature and stereotype.

    And when he took the bench, nothing about him changed. Nothing. He developed no “robe-itis” and emitted nary a scent of power, no. Later, when the legislature dragged its heels in creating Juneau County’s second judgeship, he labored long and arduously to keep pace with the workload of two, nay, three judges, with no diminution of his innate deep wells of compassion and patience. In fact, it was only when he finally acknowledged the heavy strain and quite uncharacteristically threatened retirement under the caseload, only then did the legislature finally add a second bench in Mauston. John Roemer’s sudden departure from the bench for his wife’s failing health was a legal community loss but was him through and through: ever the dutiful servant leader.

    He could laugh at himself in the most sincere of ways, unlike the oafish egos whose time in the limelight is always about themselves. He never saw himself as important. He always extended the hand of compassion. He will be missed. Requiscat in pace, John P. Roemer. A good man were you who left this mortal world better for your life but far, far too soon in too violent and unfair a way.

    Chris Van Wagner

    ‘Caddyshack’ Teaches Practical Legal Lessons

    golf ball

    In “What ‘Caddyshack’ Taught Me About Practicing Law” (Nonresident Lawyers Blog, June 14, 2002), Daniel Rislove wrote, “I thoroughly enjoyed Emily S. Kelchen’s article ‘What “The Godfather” Taught Me About Practicing Law’ (Nonresident Lawyers Blog, April 22, 2022). I have to admit it generated a great deal of discussion at our firm.”

    “However,” he continued, “Allow me to respectfully suggest that the source of all practical legal knowledge derives not from The Godfather, but rather from the 1980 hit comedy Caddyshack.” He provided a few movie quotes to illustrate his point.

    A reader posted a comment, and you can, too.

    Reader: I need to pay more attention to the online content. This article was perfect – great headline and just enough stuff to give me what I needed. Caddyshack never gets old.

    Aaron Frederickson
    Lino Lakes, Minn.

    Reducing Costs for Third-Party Solar

    solar power panels

    In “Third-party Solar Arrangements Remain in Legal Limbo” (InsideTrack, June 1, 2022), State Bar legal writer Jeff M. Brown wrote that ambiguity in a state law regulating public utilities has stalled the advent of solar energy installations in Wisconsin.

    According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, retail electricity prices climbed faster in 2021 than in any year since 2008. Homeowners can cut costs by using solar energy, which allows them to avoid paying their utility’s variable per-kilowatt-hour charge for some of their energy. But installation costs put rooftop solar panels beyond the financial reach of many homeowners. That’s why companies offer financing for solar panel installation in 30 states, but Wisconsin isn’t among them, Brown wrote.

    The article explored the legal stalemate, and a reader posted a comment.

    Reader: Thank you for this useful article. It should be noted that third-party financing and customer-owned generation could actually reduce costs for all other customers and thus advance the primary purpose of Wisconsin’s public utility laws: protecting the customers.

    Wisconsin’s monopoly investor-owned public utilities are in the midst of an unprecedented level of investment in both renewable and fossil generation. These capital costs plus a rate of return (i.e. profit) that in Wisconsin is currently around 10% (depending on the utility) factor into the rates that the utilities are authorized by the PSC to charge customers. In other words, all customers end up paying for these utility-owned generation investments, plus a premium (and for transmission lines to move this power to where it’s needed), in their monthly bills. This is an expensive proposition, compounded by the sharp rise in natural gas prices that makes fossil generation from the new natural gas facilities even more expensive.

    Alternatively, when a customer (third party) purchases the generation asset such as solar panels and battery storage, other customers bear neither the cost of that capital investment nor the cost for the owner’s return (profit) on the investment. Insofar as customer-owned generation eliminates the need for further investor-owned generation investments and/or sends cost-effective power to the grid, the savings get spread among all customers. Furthermore, since customer-owned generation can be sited more flexibly such that the power doesn’t have to travel as far to reach the end user(s), this could reduce short- and long-term transmission costs.

    In short, from a public interest perspective, the potential cost benefits of third-party financing and customer-owned generation merit serious policy and legal consideration.

    Cara Faris
    Citizens Utility Board, Madison

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