Limited scope representation gets a boost

On April 4, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted unanimously to adopt a series of changes proposed in Petition 13-10 to expand support for limited scope representation arrangements between lawyers and clients. The changes, which take effect in January 2015, have broad support in the access to justice community and have been a key priority for the Commission. Among other changes, the new rules will provide a process for entering and withdrawing limited appearances in court …

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Supporting judicial discretion to ensure fair hearings

On February 24 the Wisconsin Supreme Court held a public hearing on Petition 13-14, which requests amendments in the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct to provide better guidance to judges in addressing the challenges raised by the growing number of self-represented litigants. The petition, filed by the Access to Justice Commission last September, proposes modifying Supreme Court Rule 60.04 to make it clear that “reasonable efforts to facilitate the ability of all litigants, including self-represented …

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Support builds for judicial code amendment

In early 2013, the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission convened a working group to examine possible changes to the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct that would provide additional guidance to judges to help address one of the challenges raised by the growth in self-represented litigants. On September 13, 2013, the Commission filed Petition 13-14 with the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The court has now scheduled a hearing on the petition for February 24, 2014, at 9:45 am. Comments may be submitted in writing to the court or in person at the hearing.

Letters in support of the petition have now been filed by the Wisconsin Association of Judicial Court Commissioners, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals Judges, the Wisconsin Family Court Commissioners Association, the Executive Committee of the Wisconsin Trial Judges Association, and the Committee of Chief Judges. The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors has also voted to support the petition.

The Commission’s working group was guided in part by Comment 4 to Rule 2.2 of the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, adopted in 2007, and a 2012 joint resolution from the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators. The working group also gathered suggestions from judges and practicing attorneys. The working group then drafted a proposed petition to amend Supreme Court Rules 60.04. The full Commission approved the petition at its meeting on September 6.

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Updating the Judicial Code for the Age of Self-Represented Litigants

Margaret Vergeront
Commission member, Margaret Vergeront

A working group convened by the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission is examining possible changes to the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct that would provide additional guidance to judges to help address one of the challenges raised by the growth in self-represented litigants. The working group, led by retired Court of Appeals Judge Margaret Vergeront, has been preparing proposed changes as well as gathering suggestions from judges and practicing attorneys. The working group is still reviewing the comments that it received and expects to complete its work this summer.

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Compelling testimony in Eau Claire on the importance of access to justice

Panel members at the hearing
Judge GaleWyrick, Gregg Moore & Mike Waterman

It was a remarkable evening in Eau Claire. Members of the community came out on July 31 to share their thoughts about the state of access to justice in the area. Representatives from domestic violence prevention groups, the court system, legal services organizations, the faith community and the private bar concurred that the needs they see are growing. Rosemary Elbert, Executive Director at Wisconsin Judicare noted a fundamental her organization faces in trying to meet the civil legal needs of the indigent in northern Wisconsin: “The funding is going down. The needs are going up.”

The Commission is particularly grateful for the participation of elected representatives from the area, including Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, Sen. Bob Jauch, Rep. Kathy Bernier and Rep. Warren Petryk. Congressman Ron Kind was represented by Mark Aumann from his Eau Claire office. Other hearing panel members included Court of Appeals Judge Gary Sherman, 10th Judicial District Deputy Chief Judge Molly GaleWyrick, Mike Waterman from the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors, Robin Thibado from West CAP and Linda McIntyre from the Community Foundation of Dunn County. They were joined by Commission members Gregg Moore and Duana Bremer

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Access to Justice Commission releases its first video

Equal justice for all is something that we treasure and that every Wisconsin resident deserves. We hope that you find this short video helpful and inspiring. There is a role for everyone in the effort to make access to justice a higher priority at the local, state and national levels. Contact us to find out how you can help right here in Wisconsin. Update 5/21/12: We were pleased to be able to talk about this …

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Spring meeting with the Wisconsin Supreme Court

hz536n/George Thomas /Free Photos On Monday, March 12, the Access to Justice Commission had the pleasure of meeting with the justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The Commission holds a joint meeting with the court each Spring in conjunction with the Commision’s annual meeting in Madison. The discussion covered a range of access to justice issues and projects in Wisconsin and nationally. The following Commission projects were covered and the Commission is grateful for all the helpful suggestions …

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Final order on civil right to counsel petition

donsutherland1 /Free Photos The Wisconsin Supreme Court has released its final order denying Petition 10-08. The justices voted last month to deny to petition. Petition supporters asked for a new rule that would have required circuit court judges to appoint counsel at public expense for indigent litigants in many civil cases where basic human needs were at stake. Citing uncertainty about the scope and cost of the proposal, the court declined to adopt the proposed rule. The justices also noted …

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Supreme Court denies “Civil Gideon” petition

Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted unanimously to deny Petition 10-08. The petitioners were requesting a new court rule that would have required circuit court judges to appoint attorneys at public expense for low income litigants in certain types of civil court cases: (2) Appearance by attorney. PROVIDED. Where a civil litigant is indigent (defined as below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines), the court shall provide counsel at public expense where the assistance of counsel is needed …

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Wisconsin Supreme Court takes no action on civil right to counsel petition

The Wisconsin Supreme Court held an open administrative conference on Monday, October 17, to discuss how it should respond to Petition 10-08 following the all-day hearing on the petition was held on October 4. The petition seeks creation of a new court rule that would lead to the appointment of counsel in many more civil cases in Wisconsin. At the administrative conference there was not a majority of justices who supported moving forward on the proposal as set out in the petition. However, only two justices indicated that they would deny the petition outright.

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