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Justices issue order changing reciprocity rules

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has officially amended its reciprocity rules to let attorneys whose out-of-state licenses are in good standing and who have practiced exclusively for a federally recognized Indian tribe be waived from having to take the Wisconsin bar exam.

The justices released the order changing the language of the rule on Wednesday. It took effect immediately.

The proposal for the changes had been submitted by the Stockbridge-Munsee Community after its newly hired tribal prosecutor’s application for a Wisconsin license was rejected despite her years of legal practice with another tribe and her having a Minnesota license. Her application was later accepted but only after she appealed.

Over the summer, the tribe had agreed to revise its proposal, which had been drafted by the Board of Bar Examiners with advice from stakeholders in the tribal justice system.

The justices held a public hearing on the proposal on Monday. The Stockbridge-Munsee’s general counsel, Dennis Puzz, as well as the BBE director Jacquelynn Rothstein, presented the proposal to the justices. Nicole Homer, a member of the Wisconsin State Bar’s Indian Law Section, testified in favor of the proposal. Laura Vedder, tribal prosecutor for the Stockbridge-Munsee, was present but did not testify.

The court discussed the proposal and voted in closed conference to approve it. The proposal is the first to be approved since the justices voted last term to do away with the open-rules conferences that usually followed its public hearings.

In its open conferences, the justices would debate proposals and take votes. Both those vote castings and deliberations are now closed to the public.

About Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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