State Bar of Wisconsin​

We are a professional association for Wisconsin lawyers. The State Bar provides educational, career development, and other services to more than 25,000 members. We also provide public services, including attorney referrals, public education, and reduced-fee legal assistance for low-income state residents. Our mission is to improve the administration of justice and the delivery of legal services and to promote the professional interests of Wisconsin lawyers.

The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors met virtually for its April 16 meeting and adopted policy positions on racial justice and law enforcement reform, among other actions, including approval of the organization’s FY 2022 budget. April 19, 2021 – The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors last Friday discussed a proposal to require at least two of 30 CLE credits per reporting period on topics of racial bias and other issues that promote education on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The board took no action on the proposal from the State Bar’s CLE Committee, but engaged in lengthy…
April 19, 2021 – At last Friday’s State Bar of Wisconsin Board of Governors meeting, board member Erik Guenther voiced reservations about holding an upcoming Board of Governors meeting in Kenosha, scheduled for September 2021. Guenther, who grew up in Kenosha, moved to relocate the scheduled Kenosha meeting in light of racially charged events involving Kenosha law enforcement. “I’m not sure if there’s a right or wrong answer on this issue,” said Guenther, a Nonresident Lawyer Division (NLRD) representative on the board. “But having a full discussion is important.” Guenther said he reached a “tipping point” after a recent announcement…
As of April 5, 2021, health care providers, health information exchanges, health information networks, and certified health IT developers are subject to the 21st Century Cures Act Information Blocking Rule. The changes necessitated by the Information Blocking Rule are daunting. A diverse team of stakeholders within the health care space spent the better part of last summer and fall working to develop policies, plans, educational materials, workflows, software adjustments, and patient materials as part of a comprehensive Information Blocking Rule compliance plan. The Nov. 2, 2020, effective date for the 21st Century Cures Act Information Blocking Rule was coming like…
April 16, 2021 – Ruling on a moot issue that will only guide future action, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has confirmed, once again, that a statewide emergency order limiting capacity at restaurants, bars, and other indoor facilities was invalid and unenforceable. Then-Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary Andrea Palm issued Emergency Order No. 3 in October 2020, expiring 30 days later, to control the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. It limited indoor gatherings to 25 percent of total occupancy limits. The emergency order exempted certain entities, including daycare centers, schools, government and tribal facilities, health care centers, and other gatherings…
The same growing body of research cited by Justice Anthony Kennedy in Roper v. Simmons – the U.S. Supreme Court decision banning the death penalty for young people under 18 – is inspiring juvenile law practitioners, youth advocates, and local courts to take a closer look at emerging adults – those ranging in age from 17 to 24. In September 2020, the Juvenile Law Center released a report, Rethinking Justice for Emerging Adults: Spotlight on the Great Lakes Region, outlining efforts to recognize this distinctive stage of adulthood.  Some of these efforts include a renewed drive to change the…
April 13, 2021 – Reporters from the MacIver Institute for Public Policy sued Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, alleging they were denied access to a press event because of their organization’s viewpoint. Recently, a federal appeals court rejected that claim. In John K. MacIver Institute et al. v. Evers, No. 20-1814 (April 9, 2021), a three-judge panel for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals “found no evidence of viewpoint discrimination under any First Amendment test with which we might view the claim.” Thus, the panel affirmed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Western District of Wisconsin,…
An algorithm is a set of steps that leads to a conclusive result. Both humans and computers can process algorithms – even simple arithmetic is an algorithm. Computers use complex algorithmic formulas that reference large quantities of data in order to make automated decisions. Governments, employers, insurance companies, and health care providers are dramatically increasing their reliance on automatic decision-making software. Decisions as diverse as evaluating risk during criminal sentencing, deciding where to prioritize police resources, sorting resumes, ranking patients by greatest medical need, and determining eligibility and quantity of public benefits may all rely on computer automation. Julia Veenendaal,…
With the new Biden Administration’s trade policy taking shape, one area of significant importance for businesses to pay attention to is the administration’s stated goal of pursuing a “human rights” focused foreign policy. This is of particular importance, because U.S. foreign policy goals often drive U.S. trade policy, and a human rights-centered foreign policy signals an intensifying of trade measures against entities, individuals, business sectors, and countries that the U.S. government believe are acting against U.S. foreign policy goals. One such area that will likely see an increased scrutiny by the U.S. government are transactions that could be deemed to…
The state election laws require municipal clerks or municipal election commissions to change the registration status of electors who may have moved, not the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC), the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled (5-2). In Zignego at al v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2021 WI 32 (April 9, 2021), a majority ruled that “the responsibility to change the registration of electors who may have moved out of their municipality is given to ‘the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners,’” rejecting an argument that this statute also applies to the WEC. “To translate, a board of election commissioners is…
The use of boilerplate objections in response to written discovery – interrogatories, requests for documents, and requests for admissions – has proliferated in civil litigation, even though it has no basis under the rules. All attorneys are familiar with the routine “form” boilerplate objections: relevance, overbroad, oppressive, burdensome, harassing, vague, ambiguous, attorney client-privilege, and attorney-work product, etc. The problem with using boilerplate objections has been heightened by the practice of prefacing discovery responses with a “general objections” section, which usually spans multiple paragraphs, if not pages. To make the problem even worse, these general objections are typically incorporated by reference…
The Wisconsin Supreme Court today, in a 4-3 decision, concluded that Gov. Tony Evers exceeded his authority when declaring a public health emergency due to COVID-19, extending previous orders, without the legislature’s consent. Under emergency declarations, the governor may issue other orders deemed necessary for the security of persons or property. One order was a controversial statewide mask mandate, requiring masks in enclosed spaces open to the public, with some exceptions. Petitioner Jere Fabick filed an original action petition to the supreme court last November, challenging the validity of two executive orders under Wis. Stat. section 323.10, which relates…
March 30, 2021 – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled that city of Madison and U.W. police officers are entitled to qualified immunity for excessive force claims brought by a man arrested after a U.W.-Madison Badger Football game. In 2015, Todd and Shelly Cibulka attended a Badger game on Homecoming weekend against Purdue, a 24-7 win for the Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. The Cibulkas left the game early, about 2 p.m., and ventured to the Library Café’ & Bar to meet friends. They drank alcohol for several hours before their daughter, a U.W. freshman…
Mediators, by our profession, are flexible and adaptable. The best mediators adjust the style of mediation to meet the needs of the parties and the particular case. So when the pandemic caused a shutdown of much of the civil court system throughout the country, mediators were quick to adapt to virtual mediation. Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) has been talked about at local, state, national, and international levels for more than a decade. Many trace the origins of ODR back to the PayPal and eBay dispute resolution programs, which have continued to evolve and take shape in our professional community. However,…
  March 26, 2020 – COVID-19 vaccine eligibility now includes court system professionals, including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, victim witness coordinators, court clerks, and other individuals essential to in-person criminal court proceedings. However, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), those who can work from home are asked to delay vaccination until May 1 or until supply is robust. The DHS website notes that public defenders were eligible March 1, because of their close contact with incarcerated individuals (who were eligible to receive vaccines March 1). How to Schedule a Vaccination Appointment Individuals who are interested in being…
March 31, 2021, brings the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium – which means that rental assistance will be more important than ever to keeping tenant housing secure from eviction.1 Here’s how you can help your clients who need rental assistance. Tips on Rental Assistance Tenants should be prepared to provide details about themselves and their situation. It can be jarring for those new to assistance programs to have to provide personal information, such as household and income details, as well as documentation to prove those details. Frequently, the state or federal government is…
March 24, 2021 – Mark Jensen’s wife, Julie, made several statements before she died from poisoning in 1998, directing police to investigate Mark if something happened to her. Jensen has argued, since then, that those statements were inadmissible at trial. Julie wrote a letter before she died, pointing to Jensen as her killer. The neighbor was to deliver the letter to police if something happened to her. She also left a voicemails with a police officer, two weeks before she died, noting Jensen should be a prime suspect if she were found dead. The state charged Jensen, in 1998, with…