WisBar News

News and developments from the State Bar of Wisconsin.

Credit: PBS Wisconsin Image/James Gill, Photographer Jan. 18, 2021 – A statue of the Hon. Vel Phillips, one of Wisconsin’s most prominent and influential attorneys over the last 100 years, could be placed on the state Capitol grounds later this year, should the State Capitol and Executive Residence Board approve a proposal at its Jan. 25 meeting. The statue of Phillips will be the first on the Capitol Square to honor a person of color. The State Bar of Wisconsin and its charitable arm, the Wisconsin Law Foundation, strongly support the siting of a statue honoring Hon. Vel Phillips, states…
Jan. 6, 2021 – The Jacob Blake case in Kenosha highlights the ongoing conflict with racial justice in Wisconsin and nationwide. It is a powerful reminder that Wisconsin needs broader criminal justice reform, and we call for the legal community, elected officials, and law enforcement to act now. This case was a tragedy for everyone involved, including Jacob Blake, his family, the Kenosha community, Kenosha law enforcement, and the nation. Our collective hearts go out to all people who have been affected by these events. We must remind ourselves that when there is mistrust in the criminal justice system, the…
Dec. 28, 2020 – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has outlined three tiers of population groups that should be within Phase 1 of the COVID-19 rollout, and lawyers and judges should be in the third tier, according to recent guidance from the CDC. In early December, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities be offered COVID-19 vaccines first, in Phase 1a of the vaccination program. Phase 1b, the second recommended group for prioritization, includes those aged 75 years and older and “front-line essential workers (non-health care workers).”…
Dec. 22, 2020 – As leaders of the State Bar of Wisconsin, we denounce vicious personal attacks targeting Wisconsin Supreme Court justices and any judge for the decisions they are asked to make while upholding our Constitution and the rule of law. According to various media reports, justices and judges are being threatened with acts of violence and personally attacked in emails, anonymous voicemails, and blog posts.  Among many disturbing words, justices were referred to as “terrorist,” “traitor,” and “tyrant bitch.” Of even greater concern are the vehement anti-Semitic attacks towards individual members of the Court. Sadly, these unconscionable attacks…
Justice Shirley Abrahamson, the longest serving justice in Wisconsin’s judiciary, at a June 18, 2019 event in her honor at the Wisconsin State Capitol. (Photo: Andy Manis). Dec. 21, 2020 – Shirley Abrahamson, who served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court for 43 years before her retirement last year, passed away this past weekend after battling pancreatic cancer. She was 87. “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson,” said State Bar of Wisconsin Executive Director Larry J. Martin. “She was a monumental figure in Wisconsin’s judiciary during her record 43 year…
The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors met virtually for its December meeting. Dec. 4, 2020 – The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors today voted to support efforts to expand internet broadband access to ensure citizens in rural parts of the state have access to online legal tools, as well as access to attorneys who can help them. The board, meeting virtually, unanimously adopted the broadband policy position to support funding for broadband statewide to ensure more uniform coverage, as well as broadband expansion in any capital or infrastructure legislation. “Access to broadband is necessary for the…
  Margaret Wrenn Hickey   Odalo J. Ohiku   Anu Chudasama   Elizabeth Reeths   Margo S. Kirchner   Samuel C. Hall Jr. Dec. 4, 2020 – Margaret Wrenn Hickey and Odalo J. Ohiku have accepted nominations to run for 2021 State Bar of Wisconsin president-elect. Both candidates are lawyers active in Milwaukee. Ohiku (Marquette 2002) is deputy city attorney with the Milwaukee Office of the City Attorney; and Hickey (U.W. 1986) is a shareholder with Becker, Hickey & Poster, S.C. The president-elect serves a one-year term before becoming president on July 1, 2022. The nominees for treasurer are…
Nov. 10, 2020 – In the 2020 State of the Judiciary address last week, Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack highlighted how Wisconsin courts have “overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19” to serve the people. The annual address, which kicks off the new term and the Wisconsin Judicial Conference, said the courts “have shown courage, again and again.” Chief Justice Roggensack highlighted the court system’s response to COVID-19 since March – under the leadership of Wisconsin State Courts Director Randy Koschnick – from suspending most in-person proceedings and quickly moving to Zoom hearings, to convening a COVID-19 task force…
Networking and social events were still part of the 2020 (Virtual) Wisconsin Solo and Small Firm Conference. Oct. 28-30. Participants kicked off the event with a Halloween style Happy Hour. Oct. 30, 2020 – As expected, law practice amidst COVID-19 is a primary theme at the State Bar of Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference (Oct. 28-30). Most of 2020, firms have navigated uncertainty and major change. And they are still working through it. “We’ve had to deal with a lot of things, and we’ve had to deal with it very quickly,” said David Krekeler, a panelist on “Lessons Learned from COVID-19,”…
David Carlson and his wife, Oksana, pose for a photo on the night of their 50th wedding celebration in April 2019 in New York City. Carlson is the 2020 recipient of the John Lederer Award in recognition of years dedicated to mentoring others in the profession. Oct. 29, 2020 – The situation can be common among new lawyers: That feeling of not knowing how to conduct a new practice. David J. Carlson of Waukesha knows that feeling well. As a brand-new attorney starting his own practice more than 40 years ago, it was difficult not to feel lost at sea.…
Oct. 13, 2020 – When homeowners constructed a 36x80x16-foot building on their Fond du Lac property, the neighbors complained that it violated the subdivision’s restrictions on structures other than “garages.” Recently, a state appeals court ruled for the homeowners. In Buehrens v. Schave, 2019AP1649 (Oct. 7, 2020), a three-judge panel for the District II Court of Appeals ruled that the structure must stand because the subdivision’s restrictive covenant on “garages” was not clear enough to require a different result. “Following well-established Wisconsin law, we must favor the free and unencumbered use of property when purported restrictions in covenants are not…
Oct. 8, 2020 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled (4-3) that the Wisconsin Legislature has authority to represent the state’s interests in the validity of state laws, a win for Republicans seeking to block election extensions granted amidst COVID-19. The decision, coupled with a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, means that a prior federal district court decision to extend certain deadlines related to the November general election is no longer applicable. Today, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the extended deadlines after granting reconsideration “in light of” the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision.…
Oct. 6, 2020 – Circuit courts must revert to restrictions on in-person court proceedings if amending operational plans amidst COVID-19, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled (4-3) in an order that clarifies how circuit courts must manage changing circumstances. In March and April, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a number of orders that prohibited in-person proceedings, including jury trials, until further notice. The court system quickly shifted to remote proceedings through videoconferencing. In late May, the supreme court issued an order determining that “individual circuit courts of this state may begin gradually to resume in-person proceedings, including jury trials, on…
Sept. 28, 2020 – The “emeritus” classification of membership, which currently applies to members age 70 and older, would change under a proposal approved by the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors at its first (virtual) meeting of the fiscal year. The State Bar will now petition the Wisconsin Supreme Court seeking final approval of a classification change under court rules, SCR Chapter 10, which regulates the State Bar. The proposal would require attorneys ages 70 to 75 in “active” law practice to continue paying full State Bar dues (currently $260 annually) and to fulfill all continuing legal…
Sept. 23, 2020 – A state appeals court has ruled that a community organization that sought disclosure of a draft contract between the City of Waukesha and a professional baseball team is entitled to attorney fees in the public records litigation. Friends of Frame Park (Friends) tried to obtain a draft contract between Waukesha and Big Top Baseball LLC, which was pursuing plans to construct a stadium in Waukesha’s 34-acre Frame Park along the Fox River for summer league collegiate baseball. The city released the draft contract only after Friends sought a writ of mandamus in the circuit court, which…
Neenah attorney Kathleen Brost is sworn in as State Bar president by Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack. The ceremony took place at the State Bar Center in Madison in August and was recorded for the celebration event on Sept. 16 – a departure from tradition due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sept. 17, 2020 – In a year like no other and in a ceremony like none before, Neenah attorney Kathleen Brost was sworn in as the State Bar of Wisconsin’s​ 65th president. Brost took up the post on July 1, 2020. She was sworn in via a virtual…