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Suit over Wisconsin diploma privilege settles

The federal lawsuit brought to challenge Wisconsin’s diploma privilege was dismissed pursuant to a settlement on Mar. 20, with the state agreeing to pay $7,500 to Corrine Wiesmueller.

Christopher Wiesmueller, the attorney who originally brought suit on his own behalf, but later amended the complaint after he passed the bar and his case became moot, said that, after three years of litigation, without any progress on the merits, it was time to resolve the case.

The case has already been to the Seventh Circuit twice. Most recently, the court in July reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the state, and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Wiesmueller said it appeared that all the suit would accomplish is to force everyone to take the bar exam, which he said was not his objective.

He also said that he was facing an increasingly uphill battle. The Seventh Circuit ruled in his favor, because no evidence was in the record that the State’s two law schools teach any more Wisconsin law than any out-of-state schools.

Wiesmueller said, “But it is clear that Marquette and the University of Wisconsin teach some Wisconsin law; so you get into the increasingly difficult question of how much Wisconsin law is enough to justify the privilege. Resolving the case at this point seemed the right thing to do.”

William A. Cosh, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, concurred. “It was settled in the best interests of the State.”

The suit alleged that the diploma privilege violated the dormant commerce clause by discriminating against out-of-state law schools, and students who graduate from out-of-state law schools.

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