October 1, 2014
According to an article in the Wisconsin Law Journal, there may be a larger review of OLR than originally contemplated. A report commissioned by OLR recommended several things “OLR could do to improve, including exercising more discretion when complaints are filed and reorganizing the office to avoid duplicating efforts.”
A larger review would be fine, but the last one, done in 1999, if anything made things worse. The above comment does not deal directly with the main problems with Wisconsin’s disciplinary system. They are:
•The amount of time from grievance to resolution. While some of this may be due to OLR, most is due to the intricate investigation process, some of which was made more complicated as a result of the 1999 study. But, much of the delay is also due to the Supreme Court which can sit on motions for months and months, fail to appoint a referee for extended periods of times and make a final decision for a lengthy time.
•Inconsistent discipline. Some minor offenses are (rarely) treated serious and (far more often) serious offenses are given lenient treatment. There are no guidelines for discipline. And, worse, the SC frequently fails to follow its own rule for progressive discipline, meaning that subsequent offenses receive more severe discipline than earlier offenses.
•Leniency. It is unbelievable that lawyers can lie, steal and behave despicably but keep their license to practice.
Yes, a review would be welcome. But not one which fails to understand and address the real problems with Wisconsin’s so-called disciplinary system.