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Two Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Clamor for a Review of the Lawyer Disciplinary System

A number of recent Wisconsin Supreme Court lawyer disciplinary decisions reflect a strong desire on the part of at least two justices for a thorough review of the current lawyer disciplinary system. In a court that agrees on little else, this topic has the vocal support of two traditionally opposed justices:

The OLR disciplinary system is about 15 years old. Several anomalies and proposed amendments have been brought to the court's attention. It is time for the court to institute a review of the system rather than to make piecemeal adjustments at this time. See my writings in OLR v. Johns, 2014 WI 32, ___ Wis. 2d ___, ___ N.W.2d ___; OLR v. Osicka, 2014 WI 33, ___ Wis. 2d ___, ___ N.W.2d ___; and OLR v. Osicka, 2014 WI 34, ___ Wis. 2d ___, ___ N.W.2d ___; of even date.

Office of Lawyer Regulation v. Kratz (Abrahamson, J., concurring).

From time to time every government agency would benefit from an impartial, objective review of the agency's practices and procedures. There is increasing evidence of the need for such an evaluation of the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR). This case highlights some of the problems facing the agency and why an objective review would be desirable.

Id. (Prosser, J., concurring/dissenting).

Abrahamson and Prosser continue their demands in other decision published the same day: OLR v. Johns; OLR v. Osicka; OLR v. Osicka.

Issues raised by the justices include the requirement that lawyers pay the costs of prosecuting all charges; the bases for charging decisions; the prohibition on negotiation/plea deals; procedures for the dismissal of investigations; time delays from the act to the OLR's initiation of the disciplinary case; and others.

According to Justice Abrahamson, at least three other justices have "expressed interest in and support for" a review of the OLR system. Given this support, it's likely that a review is coming.