Members of the State Bar Board of Governors pose for a group photo during their meeting in Madison on Dec. 3. Board members were invited to wear holiday attire.

Dec. 6, 2021 – During its Dec. 3 meeting in Madison, the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors voted by consent to support a petition – filed by numerous circuit court judges – that would create a presumption against indiscriminate shackling of juveniles in juvenile court.

Under petition 21-04, filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, restraints could only be used on a juvenile where a court finds that the restraints were necessary to:

  1. prevent physical harm to the child or another person;
  2. that the child has a history of disruptive behavior that has placed others in harm’s way or the child presents a substantial risk of harming on him- or herself for others; and
  3. there is reason to believe that the child presents a substantial flight risk.

Before ordering the use of restraints, a court must also find that there are no less restrictive alternatives to restraints that will prevent flight or physical harm to the child or someone else.

The board voted unanimously in September 2019 to adopt a policy position against the indiscriminate shackling of juveniles. Circuit court judges from Milwaukee, La Crosse, Dane, Marathon, and Eau Claire counties – who have implemented local practices against shackling – are now asking the supreme court to implement a statewide rule.

“The State Bar believes the practice [of shackling juveniles] impedes the attorney-client privilege, chills juveniles’ constitutional right to due process, runs counter to the presumption of innocence, and draws into question the rehabilitative ideals of the juvenile court,” the State Bar’s adopted policy position states.

Petition 21-04, which has been scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 15, 2022, will move forward with the State Bar’s support.

Board Adopts Location of Court Petition; Discusses Courthouse Security Petition

By a unanimous vote, the board voted to support petition 21-03, filed by the Director of State Courts, which would amend provisions of state law regarding court location to allow the use of alternatives to in-person proceedings such as videoconferencing.

The board discussed, but took no action on, petition 21-06, which would update Wisconsin Supreme Court rules to reflect new standards for courthouse construction, renovation, and technology.

Petition 21-06 would also clarify the procedures for collecting data and making reports related to security threats and incidents.

The proposed new rules are necessitated by changes in construction and renovation practices and advances in courtroom technology, according to a supporting memo.

Both petitions are scheduled for hearing on Feb. 15, 2022.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access CLE

The board heard a report on a draft petition that would allow attorneys to obtain continuing legal education (CLE) credit for programs on diversity, equity, inclusion and access. The State Bar’s CLE Committee is working on the draft petition.

Lance Leonhard, chair of the CLE Committee, told the board that 20 states either mandate or recognize DEIA CLEs. He cited the diversity statistics from Wisconsin.

“As we continue as a society to confront a lot of the issues that are impacted by these topics, specifically access to justice and fair and equal treatment under the law, our profession puts us on the front lines of that work,” Leonhard said.

“Better understanding the experience and perspective of others makes us better lawyers.”

The board previously directed the State Bar’s CLE Committee to draft a petition that would allow lawyers to earn CLE credit for DEIA programs on a voluntary basis. The board must approve any draft before petitioning the state supreme court.

In addition, on the Dec. 3 board meeting, State Bar President Cheryl Daniels appointed a task force to explore whether CLE credit for DEIA should be mandatory in Wisconsin.

Craig Steger (La Crosse), and Felicia Owen (Milwaukee) are co-chairing the task force.

Advancing a proposal that allows State Bar members to earn CLE credit for attending programs or training related to bias and DEIA and advancing a petition to make such CLE mandatory, was a recommendation of the State Bar’s Racial Justice Task Force, which issued a report with recommendations in September.

Other Business

The board held a ceremony recognizing this year’s Legal Innovation awards. Since 2014, the Communications Committee has solicited nominations for examples of innovation in Wisconsin’s legal community.

Awardees are selected by the committee based on the following criteria: the use of technology to improve service to clients; increase workplace diversity; creating new marketing strategies; expanding pro bono or reduced-costs services; and improving the efficiency of internal operations.

The board also approved the date and location for the 2026 Annual Meeting and Conference. The meeting will be held June 10-12, 2026 at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse.

Members may obtain a copy of the minutes of each meeting of the Board of Governors by contacting State Bar Executive Coordinator Jan Marks by email or phone at 608-250-6106.


Samuelson, New Head of OLR, Vows Outreach to Bar Members

Shortly after Judge Timothy Samuelson was appointed to head the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) in August, he went to lunch with a former OLR employee. The employee told Samuelson that whenever he gave a presentation to lawyers around the state, he’d start with a line guaranteed to garner laughs: “As you know, OLR is here to help.”

“The line was supposed to be funny because, as you may have guessed, OLR wasn’t here to help,” Samuelson told the State Bar Board of Governors during their meeting on Dec. 3

Among his priorities, Samuelson said, will be “listening to you, learning from you, learning from your colleagues, from your communities – speak less, listen more.”

“I really hope that increased outreach will show, through my words and actions, that OLR is here to help, that it’s responsive, that the process works for everyone – lawyers and the public … I sincerely want to work with each one of you and I’m open to ideas.”

Breaking Out of the Madison Bubble  

Samuelson said his first four months at OLR “have been a whirlwind.” He’s always thought highly of OLR, Samuelson said, “but when I joined OLR I quickly learned that some members of the bar and the public think otherwise.”

Samuelson said he’s decided to make the story about the laugh line a teachable moment.

“I learned that I need to get outside of my Madison-government lawyer bubble and connect with people with practices that are unlike mine,” he said.

“I need to better understand the pressures that some of our fellow members face on a daily basis. I need to reach out and earn the trust of practitioners all across the state, from different walks of life than mine, who might view the business and practice of law differently than me.”

Wide Experience   

Samuelson is confident that his experience as a lawyer will provide him with important context for the issues he’ll encounter at OLR.

“I’ve represented plaintiffs and defendants,” Samuelson said. “I’ve practiced criminal and civil law. I’ve tried cases and I’ve handled appeals. I’ve been in private practice and government practice. I’ve represented individuals and Fortune 500 companies. And, as a judge I presided over civil, criminal, and family law matters.”

Samuelson served as a Dane County Circuit Court Judge from 2017-2018, in between stints as an assistant attorney general at the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

He also served as the Civil Division Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin. He moved to Middleton in 2012 with his wife and daughter after working as a civil litigator in a private practice in Chicago for 13 years.

Samuelson admits that he hasn’t seen it all. He’s never represented a criminal defendant, for instance, or someone going through a divorce and grappling with child custody issues.

“These professional limitations are why I need to get out of my office,” Samuelson said.

Listening Tops Priority List

Additional points of emphasis for Samuelson are diversity and inclusion and promoting State Bar resources, including WisLAP, Practice411, and the ethics hotline.

“It’s admittedly a work in progress,” Samuelson said of OLR’s diversity efforts, “but over time making OLR a more diverse and inclusive environment will help us recruit and retain talent. It will help us better connect with the public. It will help us more responsive to the bar, and increase confidence in our agency.”

Jeff M. Brown is a legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. He can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6126.