Category Archives: Newsletter

Legislative Council adopts access to justice recommendations

The Legislative Council met on February 15 and voted to accept both the report and the recommendations from its Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services. The three legislative proposals will:

  • Create legislation encouraging the state departments of Administration, Children & Families, Workforce Development, Justice, and Health Services to use a portion of the federal block grants they receive to assist with the civil legal needs of Wisconsin residents.
  • Create an Interagency Legal Aid Coordinating Council that would be charged with evaluating how the use of federal grants for civil legal services may assist these state agencies in achieving their objectives. The coordinating council would also be tasked with preparing an economic impact study on civil legal aid.
  • Authorize full-time district attorneys to provide pro bono legal services without fee in civil matters that do not conflict with their official duties.

The Legislative Council will draft and introduce legislation to implement these three recommendations. The Access to Justice Commission welcomes the prospect of a new, more coordinated approach to supporting civil legal aid in Wisconsin through funding from the Violence Against Women Act, the Victims of Crime Act, and other federal block grant programs.

The 16-member study committee was made up of 6 legislators and 10 public members, including the President of the Access to Justice Commission. The Study Committee was created in response to a unanimous request from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The committee’s charge was”to review the funding and delivery of legal services for the indigent in civil cases. The committee shall: (1) review the need for legal services by indigent civil litigants; (2) identify additional non-GPR sources of revenue to provide civil legal services for the indigent; and (3) review current operations.”

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New statewide help for elder abuse victims

By Sam Wegleitner, Legal Action of Wisconsin Legal Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Judicare will be providing statewide civil legal aid to elder abuse victims through the Elder Rights Project (ERP). The Elder Rights project seeks to help elder abuse victims in Wisconsin become safe and independent, stabilize their lives, and meet their emotional andContinue Reading

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Just Wisconsin News for November

In this month’s Just Wisconsin newsletter, we have updates on the Legislative Council Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services, upcoming changes to Wisconsin Legal Advice Online, a new eviction defense project in Milwaukee and some national news highlights. The Pro Bono Honor Society is also looking for outstanding attorneys who have provided atContinue Reading

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New study committee on access to civil legal services

A new Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services was recently launched by the Wisconsin Legislative Council. The 16-member committee includes 6 legislators and 10 public members, including Jim Gramling, President of the Access to Justice Commission. The chair is Rep. Cody Horlacher and the vice-chair is Sen. Duey Stroebel. A full roster is available here. The study committeeContinue Reading

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New funding for civil legal services is on the way

The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its final order requiring that at least one-half of unclaimed funds in class action settlements and judgments be directed to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation to support civil legal services to the poor. The court’s unanimous order was issued in response to Petition 15-06 filed by the Access to Justice Commission. This class actionContinue Reading

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The eviction spiral

The rising cost of housing has led to an increase in the number of evictions nationwide, and Wisconsin is no exception. For the two most recent years where numbers are available, there were 28,501 eviction cases filed in 2012 and 28,812 in 2013. Most tenants face these legal proceedings without counsel. But an eviction isContinue ReadingContinue Reading

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50 years of service at Wisconsin Judicare

“I felt hopeless until they stepped in.” “This service kept me from becoming homeless and bankrupt.” By Beth Richlen, Development Director, Wisconsin Judicare For 50 years, Wisconsin Judicare has provided legal services to individuals like these in northern Wisconsin. From Stevens Point to Superior, from Hudson to Marinette, and everywhere in between, the low-income residentsContinue Reading

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Supreme Court action on access to justice

On April 13, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted unanimously to adopt a change proposed by the Access to Justice Commission that will result in a new source of funds for civil legal aid to the indigent in Wisconsin. The court acted following a public hearing on Petition 15-06, which was filed by the Access to JusticeContinue ReadingContinue Reading

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Comments sought on access to justice rule petitions

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is seeking comment on two pending rule petitions that support access to justice efforts in Wisconsin. The Access to Justice Commission filed Petition 15-06 seeking a rule change that would allocate 50% of unclaimed class action awards to support civil legal services to low income persons (aka cy pres). The State Bar of Wisconsin filedContinue Reading

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Pro bono spotlight – Brown County free legal clinic

On the first Wednesday of every month, a group of volunteer lawyers meet at Casa ALBA Melanie in Green Bay to offer free legal advice to anyone who comes in. “We answer legal questions and direct people to agencies, attorneys or other resources that can assist them,” said Attorney Robert R. Gagan. Gagan is aContinue Reading

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