Appellate Section chair Matthew PinixDuring the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors meeting in Sheboygan on Friday, Sept. 22, Appellate Section chair Matthew Pinix discusses a rule petition filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Sept. 25, 2023 – Members of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors recently authorized the Appellate Practice Section to oppose, on its own behalf, a rules petition to the Wisconsin Supreme Court that would make it easier for an appellate court to stay a circuit court decision that it determines it would likely reverse.

The 52-member board represents member-constituents in 16 districts , as well as leadership and divisions, and decides policy positions for the State Bar. The board welcomed 22 new members this term and held its first meeting of the fiscal year in Sheboygan on Sept. 22.

The Supreme Court has requested that comments on Petition 23-01, filed by attorneys with Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols S.C., be submitted by Oct. 2.

Matthew Pinix, chair of the Appellate Practice Section, told board members the petition would codify the standard of review that would apply when a party appeals from a motion for relief pending appeal.

District 9 Governor Jessica ShresthaDistrict 9 Governor Jessica Shrestha asks a question during a discussion at the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors meeting in Sheboygan on Friday, Sept. 22.

Pinix said the Appellate Practice Section formed a task force to review the petition, met with the petitioners, analyzed the issue, and reported back to the section.

“It was the unanimous position of the Appellate Practice Section that we should oppose the petition,” Pinix said.

Pinix said the codification sought by the petitioners would be unusual because the Wisconsin rules of appellate procedure currently contain no codified standard of review. Additionally, he said, the effect of the petition’s adoption would likely be to “muddy the waters” regarding the applicable standard of review.

“The law, as is, is good, with standards of review developed through common law,” Pinix said. “Quite frankly, the position that the petitioners have taken is not entirely inconsistent with the present common law. So, we don’t see it as something that needs to be done.”

The petitioners, Pinix said, did not contact the Appellate Practice Section before filing the rules petition. By voice vote, the board unanimously passed a motion to authorize the Appellate Practice Section to oppose the petition.

‘There Will Be A Next Step’

Other business before the Supreme Court was the topic of President Dean Dietrich’s brief report.

In July, the Supreme Court denied a State Bar petition that would allow Wisconsin attorneys to fulfill their biennial, 30-credit CLE requirements by attending classes “addressing diversity and inclusion in the legal system of all persons” and “topics designed to educate attorneys on the recognition and reduction of bias.”

Dietrich told board members that he’s asked the CLE Committee to review the petition and the Supreme Court’s order and report back to the board regarding next steps.

“The important point to what I just said is that there will be a next step,” Dietrich said. “I don’t think that there’s any question or doubt that there will be a next step. The question that we need to discuss … is what is the right next step? And that’s what we’ll be doing at our December meeting.”

State Bar President Dean DietrichState Bar President Dean Dietrich makes a point during the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors meeting in Sheboygan on Friday, Sept. 22.

Other Business

  • Appointments to the Nomination Committee for the April 2024 Bar leaders’ election. The board appointed the following members to the Nomination Committee: President-elect Jane Bucher, chair; Randy Brotherhood; Kathleen Grant; Kristen Hardy; and Renee Read.
  • Approval of Audit Committee members. The board approved the following slate of Audit Committee members: Tom Philips, chair; Grant Birtch, Sherry Coley, Noah Fenceroy, Dave Gorwitz, Melody Rute, Dave Werwie. The members will serve from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024.
  • Approval of changes to by-laws. The board approved requests by the following sections and divisions to amend their respective bylaws: the Civil Rights and Liberties Section; the Litigation Section; and the Young Lawyers Division.

After 46 Years, Last Board Meeting for Jan Marks

Jan Marks

The Sept. 22 meeting of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors marked the last one for Jan Marks, the State Bar’s executive coordinator.

Marks, who’s worked at the State Bar for 46 years, is retiring next month.

“The impact that Jan has had on the State Bar and our members and colleagues isn’t measured in longevity but in the work she lovingly gives every day to this organization,” said State Bar Executive Director Larry Martin.

“It’s been said that other than love, the most sacred thing a person can give is their labor,” Martin said. “Jan’s a remarkable individual who’s been able to combine her love and her labor in expressing all that she’s done for us.”

Martin, who became executive director in 2017, said that Marks has been “my mentor and my rock.”

“Jan, on behalf of nearly 400 Board of Governors members over the years that you’ve served with, and the hundreds of State Bar colleagues that you’ve come to know, a profound and deep ‘Thank you,’” Martin said.