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Court: No pro hac vice fee hike

The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently denied a request calling on the court to increase the state’s pro hac vice fee so that a body charged with increasing poor Wisconsin residents’ access to the civil legal system can continue operating.

The court voted in February in a closed conference to deny a proposal filed last year by the Access to Justice Commission that would have increased the pro hac vice fee from $250 to $300 so that it could fill a hole in its more than $66,000 budget.

Of the current fees, which the Office of Lawyer Regulation collects, the OLR and the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation each receive $100. The remaining $50 goes to the ATJ commission.

The group’s operations had been paid for by a State Bar reserve fund that ran out over the summer. Without an increase in the fee, the commission faces a budget shortfall.

After groups around the state weighed in, the petition was amended to exempt nonresident tribal attorneys in cases involving the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare act.

But in an order issued on March 28, the justices explained why they voted to deny the ATJ commission’s amended opinion, noting that the justices opposed the fee increase, not the commission.

“Rather, the court concludes that it is time to consider other ways to further the important mission of the Commission,” the court wrote. “This may entail restructuring the Commission to better enable it to effectively advance these critically important objectives.”

The court noted that a separate petition may be filed requesting the exemption for certain tribal attorneys.

The vote denying the request was closel. Justices Shirley Abrahamson and Annette Ziegler wrote dissenting opinions, both of which were joined by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.

About Erika Strebel, [email protected]

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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