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A ‘wildcat pouncing on a porcupine’

It seems like the State Bar may be a little hurt over questions the Supreme Court asked them during a hearing Jan. 21 about a petition that seeks the ability to boot a member of the Board of Governors.

During a BOG meeting Friday, Bar President Pat Fiedler told the governors that the judges had “peppered” him and others with questions. Assistant Executive Director Lynda Tanner also implied that the justices were rough.

And BOG member Ray Dall’Osto, who also testified on Jan. 21, joked that it felt like a “wildcat pouncing on a porcupine.” He said he and the bar were “catching it from all sides,” though he felt the bar answered all the questions put forth appropriately.

Indeed, the Supreme Court, during the administrative rules conference, did ask those who testified for the bar a lot of questions about what would constitute a removal.

The justices, much like the idea’s detractors, appeared especially skeptical when they asked about a provision in the bar’s bylaws that states a governor can be removed when he or she “engages in conduct which is contrary to the best interest of the State Bar.”

They seemed to back the arguments made by BOG member Steve Levine, who has said the bylaws do not cover free speech. Levine filed a petition for the court to review the new bylaw.

The court has not yet decided whether to accept the bar’s petition, and may do so at a conference on Feb. 24. The bar also has another petition pending that seeks to restructure dues for elderly and young attorneys.

About Eric Heisig, eric.heisig@wislawjournal.com

Eric Heisig is the Milwaukee courts and legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. He can be reached at eric.heisig@wislawjournal.com or 414-225-1826.

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