Wisconsin advocates petition WI Supreme Court for right to counsel rules
09/13/2018, Court Rule or Initiative, All Basic Human Needs
Update: Legislative bills fail; Court dismisses petition
After the Legislature's study committee proposed 3 bills that went nowhere, the Court voted to dismiss the petition since they felt their job was done once they made the request of the Legislature.
Update: Court makes request to legislature
In 2013, advocates filed a new petition seeking the rule as well as the creation of a pilot project. In response to the second petition, the Court voted in December 2014 to request that the Wisconsin Legislature establish a legislative study committee to explore this issue.
In 2011, advocates in Wisconsin (led by Legal Action of Wisconsin) filed a petition with the Wisconsin Supreme Court that asked it to promulgate rules clarifying the inherent power of the trial courts to appoint counsel in basic human needs civil cases. Despite written and oral testimony from many people in support, including testimony from the NCCRC, the Court ultimately denied the petition, although it explored the possibility of creating a pilot project that would estimate the cost of such a rule.
Read more about the petitions:
- James Brennan, Clarion Call for Civil Gideon, 84-NOV Wis. Law. 5 (Nov. 2011).
- Tom Cannon, Wisconsin's Poor Are Entitled to an Equal Shot at Civil Justice, JSOnline (Oct. 12, 2011), available at http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/wisconsins-poor-are-entitled-to-an-equal-shot-at-civil-justice-should-state-give-free-legal-aid-in-civil-cases-131642573.html.
- Steven Elbow, Supreme Court Rejects Court-Appointed Lawyers for Poor in Civil Cases, Cap Times (Jan. 25, 2012), available at http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/crime_and_courts/blog/crime-and-courts-supreme-court-rejects-court-appointed-lawyers-for/article_21c90f02-46b7-11e1-93e4-001871e3ce6c.html.
- Matt Jeffers, Cost of Right to Counsel in Civil Cases Worth Result of Fair Trials, The Badger Herald (Aug. 30, 2011), available at http://badgerherald.com/oped/2011/08/30/cost_of_right_to_cou.php.
- Tom Solberg, Board of Governors Briefed on "Civil Gideon" Petition, State Bar of Wisconsin, (2010), available at https://www.wisbar.org/AM/Template.cfmSection=Legislative_Advocacy&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=98626.
- Bruce Vielmetti, Supreme Court Rejects 'Civil Gideon', JSOnline (Jan. 19, 2012), available at http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/137688563.html.
- Bruce Vielmetti, Petition Asks Wisconsin Court to Expand Lawyers Appointments for Poor, JSOnline (Sept. 30, 2013), available at http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/petition-asks-wisconsin-court-to-expand-lawyer-appointments-for-poor-b99109521z1-225829751.html.
- Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission, Commission Appoints Work Group For Wisconsin Civil Right to Counsel Project, wisatj.org (Jan. 9, 2011), available at http://wisatj.org/commission-appoints-work-group-for-wisconsin-civil-right-to-counsel-project.
- Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission, Wisconsin Supreme Court Takes No Action on Civil Right to Counsel Petition, wisatj.org (Oct. 17, 2011), available at http://wisatj.org/wisconsin-supreme-court-takes-no-action-on-civil-right-to-counsel-petition?doing_wp_cron=1385399676.4744660854339599609375.
The NCCRC testified in support of the original petition, attended Access to Justice Commission meetings that discussed the petition, and provided input on the substance of the new petition.