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High court to hear first group of OLR rule-change petitions

High court to hear first group of OLR rule-change petitions

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is seeking to hear from the public on two of nine proposed changes to the state’s lawyer-regulation system.

All nine proposals were filed on March 15 by the Office of Lawyer Regulation Procedure Review Committee, which was convened in 2016 to examine various concerns the justices have had over the years about the lawyer-regulation system and the Office of Lawyer Regulation’s procedures. The petitions are the culmination of the committee’s work. Representatives of the committee presented their findings to the court last fall.

The justices will not be able to hold public hearings for all nine petitions this term. However, on June 6, they are scheduled to hold a public hearing on two of the proposals involving referees, who typically make recommendations to the justices as to whether to find misconduct was committed and what discipline ought to be imposed.

The first petition the justices will hear in June involves several tweaks to the rules involving how referees are appointed, assigned to cases and trained. Among the changes proposed is that the court have a pool of 24 referees who have staggered, four-year terms. Referees would also have to take part in a half-day referee-training session every two years of their terms.

The second petition proposes expanding referees’ authority so that they can impose certain disciplinary measures without there first being a review by the high court. The petition proposes, among other things, letting referees impose three-month license suspensions and approve stipulations in which parties agree to up to a one-month license suspension. Under the court’s current rules, the high court must review all referee recommendations, except those for voluntary public and private reprimands.

The justices on Monday and March 29 sent out notices for public comment on the two petitions. Any written comments should be filed by April 26 with the Clerk of the Supreme Court.

The court will likely tackle the remaining seven petitions in groups of two or three next term, said Supreme Court Commissioner Julie Rich.

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