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Get to Know Your 2022 Judicial Candidates!

The 2022 Spring Election is taking place on Tuesday, April 5. Each year, the MBA polls its members regarding their opinions on each of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court candidates in order to help educate the public. The results from this year's poll are listed below. Please note that not all respondents expressed opinions on each candidate. 

Each Milwaukee County Circuit Court candidate on the ballot is listed below. Click on a candidate's name to view their bio and learn more about them. Don't forget to vote on April 5!

Allies & Advocates: Stories of Diversity Champions


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Probate Bench-Bar Committee 8/10 Meeting Take-Aways

Notes from the presentation:

• Introductions
     o Welcome Judge Dugan
     o Presenters: Judge Van Grunsven, Carmel Capati, Terri Graham, Al Polan, Martha Hernandez, Susan Rascon
• Health Care Facilities and Zoom
     o Hospitals (e.g., Rogers Memorial Hospital, Columbia St. Mary’s, Aurora, VA) can facilitate Zoom and have the equipment to do so
     o GAL’s and appointed counsel are encouraged to work through the petitioning attorney to arrange access to the proposed ward(s)
• Zoom Application
     o To get your client ready, have your client download the Zoom application
• Host and Co-Host Capabilities
     o Hosts have abilities that other participants do not have (e.g., waiting room, breakout rooms, muting unruly participants)
• Notice of Zoom Hearing
     o A form with the Meeting ID and Passcode will be sent to all parties identified on CCAP
     o It is the petitioning attorney’s responsibility to send this form to all interested parties, as some interested parties may not have been identified 
        on CCAP
• Breakout Rooms (licensed version of Zoom) - Demonstrated using meeting participants
• Simultaneous Interpreting Demonstration with Spanish Speaker
     o Globe icon allows selection of language; interpreter will be muted for all participants other than the person for whom the interpretation is being
     o If an interpreter is needed, contact the judge’s clerk, who will make arrangements
• Sharing Screens and Documents - Demonstrated by Nate Cade
• Spotlight Speakers / Pinning Video - Demonstrated
• Waiting Rooms
     o Block scheduling may be done by the court, which means that multiple a.m. hearings may all have the same Meeting ID and Passcode; parties
       will be in a waiting room until their case is called
• Live-Streaming on YouTube / Deleting Videos
     o Some courts are broadcasting hearings via YouTube and then deleting the videos afterwards; this is not being done for guardianships in light of
     the confidential nature of these proceedings
     o Speak slowly and clearly to ensure that everything can be heard so that the record is complete
• The next Bench-Bar Meeting via Zoom will be on Monday, September 14 at 12:15 p.m.

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Probate Bench-Bar Committee Meeting: July 6th Key Take-Aways

Notes from the July 8th Probate Bench-Bar Committee Meeting:

• Hearings continue to be held via Zoom, including the OTSC hearings for a limited number of cases (most are being adjourned or will be adjourned if a petition is submitted requesting an adjournment for a good reason).
• Zoom has limitations in some hospitals and other facilities; there are various challenges getting the equipment into the hands of the providers.
• Chapter 51 and 54 hearings at BHD are scheduled to all be heard via Zoom by August 1.
• BHD is facilitating technology with partners. GAL and adversary counsel are allowed to visit.
• Judge Dugan will be coming over on August 1 and any hearings to be scheduled in August and beyond can still be scheduled with Judge Murray’s clerk: ([email protected] 414.278.4488).
• Registration can still be done for the Spring GAL CLE, which has been rescheduled as a three-part series comprised of one-hour presentations; registration may be for one, two, or all three, with a discount given if registered for all three. If anyone missed a segment of the series, the seminars have all been recorded and can be accessed “on demand” (following registration).
Tuesday, June 30 (12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.) TRO/Adult-at-Risk Injunction Do’s and Don’ts for GALs
Thursday, July 9 (12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.) Guardianship Powers: Too Much, Too Little or Just Right
Thursday, July 23 (12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.) Who You Gonna Call? Milwaukee ADRC
• In light of the pandemic, it is unlikely that the Probate Fall Golf Outing will be held this year.
• Suggestions for topics and speakers for the Fall 2020 Probate CLE are requested, along with any preferences in dates (e.g., Sept./Oct. or Nov./Dec.).
• Judge Van Grunsven demonstrated various features of Zoom that he has the ability to do, such as the breakout room (good for hand-holding with clients) and reactions.
• Broadcasting of guardianship hearings is not appropriate for YouTube because of the confidential nature of the proceedings.
• For those hearings where exhibits will be used, the exhibits need to be given to all parties and the judge’s clerk prior to the hearing.
• Attorney Jim Collis recommended Next Level Litigation for the outsourcing of exhibits; he found the cost to be reasonable and it was appreciated by the judge who was able to highlight the exhibits. Attorney Lisa Procaccio recommended US Legal Support, whose contact is Casey Barlow ([email protected]).
• The next Bench-Bar Meeting via Zoom will be on Monday, August 10 at 12:15 p.m.

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Probate Bench-Bar Committee Meeting: June 8th Key Take-Aways

Notes from the June 8th Probate Bench-Bar Committee meeting:

• The “in-person” requirement for permanent hearings continues to pose issues for process servers, GAL’s, and others who must visit the ward; the burden will be on the petitioning attorney to confirm that all who must visit the ward in-person are able to do so and to serve as the contact person to arrange the meetings.
• GAL’s may decline appointments.
• The WATTS calendar remains suspended.
• Probate hearings will not be scheduled in-person until further order of the Chief Judge.
• Hearings on objections to claims may be held via Zoom.
• For hearings to be held via Zoom, instructions will be provided with the code and password for the hearing; the Affidavit of Mailing should identify that these instructions have been provided to all interested parties.
• Contact information for the clerks who schedule hearings is as follows:
     [email protected] 414.278.4426
     [email protected] 414.278.4458
     [email protected] 414.278.4488
     [email protected] 414.278.4517
• All staff and visitors must wear masks at the courthouse; nobody will be allowed in a courtroom without a mask; plexiglass is being installed in the courtrooms, offices of the Deputy Registers in Probate, and at BHD.
• Judge Murray rotates to Children’s Court on August 1.
• The Spring GAL CLE has been rescheduled as a three-part series comprised of one-hour presentations; registration may be for one, two, or all three, with a discount given if registered for all three.
      Tuesday, June 30 (12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.) TRO/Adult-at-Risk Injunction Do’s and Don’ts for GALs
      Thursday, July 9 (12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.) Guardianship Powers: Too Much, Too Little or Just Right
      Thursday, July 23 (12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.) Who You Gonna Call? Milwaukee ADRC
• The Volunteer Lawyers Project through Legal Action of Wisconsin seeks volunteers for uncontested informal probates and matters such as house transfers to the surviving spouse
• This meeting was Renee Ruffin Nawrocki’s last meeting after two years as Co-Chair of this committee; she begins her term as President of the Association for Women Lawyers next month. Avery Mayne has volunteered to serve as Co-Chair.
• The next Bench-Bar Meeting via Zoom will be on Monday, July 6 at 12:15 p.m.

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MBA Award Nominations Due June 22

Now is the time to highlight those doing good work in our legal community! Nominate your colleagues for one (or more!) of the MBA Awards:

Lifetime Achievement
Recognizes a lifetime of excellence in the legal community as a practitioner and steward of the law.

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Newsmakers: Wisconsin Courts Prepare to Reopen

On June 2, 2020, WisconsinEye senior producer Steve Walters sat down with Randy Koschnick, Wisconsin State Courts director; Judge John DiMotto, retired judge; and Judge John Anderson, Bayfield County Circuit Court judge, to discuss the work of the Wisconsin Courts COVID-19 Task Force, the issues around reopening courts, and the important work they do.

You can watch the recording here.

Probate Bench-Bar Committee - 5.11 Key Take-Aways

Key take-aways from May 11th meeting:

Notes from the meeting:

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State of Wisconsin Hiring Administrative Law Judge

The State of Wisconsin, Department of Workforce Development is seeking a skilled Attorney to conduct hearings and issue legal decisions related to complex unemployment cases.

Please note that applications are still being accepted.

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Good News About Good Work

It seems that all we hear lately is bad news. The MBA would like to highlight all the good happening in the Milwaukee community during these challenging times!

This week we’d like to recognize Attorneys Kim Powers, Janet Heins, and Leah Poulos who have been sewing thousands of masks and donating them to Froedtert Hospital, the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, and United Airlines. All masks have been donated free of charge to help first responders, front line workers, nursing home employees, rehab centers, and United Airlines employees who are providing free air travel for medical personnel to assist with the COVID-19 crisis.

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MBA Foundation: Call for Grant Applications

The MBA Foundation is now accepting grant applications through May 20. The charitable purposes of the MBA Foundation include, but are not limited to, the creation and/or support of activities and projects with the following objectives:

• Promoting public understanding and appreciation of the law and the legal system and their role in society

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Lawyer Well-Being Week May 8 - Feel Well: Emotional Well-Being

Today marks the last day of #LawyerWellbeingWeek and the theme is 'Feel Good: Emotional Well-Being'. Check out our tips, activities, resources and events below! 

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Lawyer Well-Being Week May 7 - Connect: Social Well-Being

Thursday's #LawyerWellbeingWeek theme is 'Connect: Social Well-Being'. Check out our tips, activities, resources and events below! 

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Lawyer Well-Being Week May 6 - Engage & Grow: Career & Intellectual Well-Being

We are halfway into 'Lawyer Well-Being Week' and Wednesday's theme is 'Engage & Grow: Career & Intellectual Well-Being'. Check out our tips, activities, resources and events below! 

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MBA Board of Directors: Call for Nominations

Would you like to find a way to have an impact on the Milwaukee area legal community, enhance access to social justice, develop strong connections with fellow attorneys and judges, all while getting your name out as a leader in the law?

Do you know someone with a passion for innovation whose voice deserves to be heard (maybe that's you too!)?

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Lawyer Well-Being Week May 5 - Align: Spiritual Well-Being

It's day two of 'Lawyer Well-Being Week' and Tuesday's theme is 'Align: Spiritual Well-Being'. Focus on your spiritual well-being with the following activities today:

Emily Esfahani Smith’s TED Talk: There’s More to Life Than Being Happy (Pursue Meaning Instead)

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Lawyer Well-Being Week May 4 - Stay Strong!

This week marks national 'Lawyer Well-Being Week' and the MBA is excited to share tips, activities, and resources with you focused on mental and physical well-being!  Today's theme is 'Stay Strong: Physical Well-Being'. Get active and focus on your physical health with our ideas below:

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Small Claims Bench-Bar Committee Meeting - Key Take-Aways

Take-aways from April 17, 2020 meeting

Location: Zoom

  • As to evictions: The court continues to only hear cases that fit the Governor’s Emergency Order 15 requirement;, all evictions for non-payment will be dismissed. The clerks will not disallow attorneys to file cases. Attorneys who choose to do so must comply with Affidavit requirements of EO 15.
  • As to AM (all other cases), the court is trying to get up and going. The court is trying to hear cases that have been adjourned and where there are represented parties in the cases scheduled to hear them and begin the process of launching operations in electronic and telephonic communications. The court is working to do that as soon as possible with the goal to start within the next four to six weeks. This will require a reconfiguration of how the court works with clerks and basic training on Zoom for court staff and court officials.

  • During this time, it is important for attorneys to become familiar with Zoom. The court commissioner and/or clerk will set all zoom conferences/hearings. It is the responsibility of the attorney to share the Zoom information with witnesses.

Good News about Good Work

Good News about Good Work

On Friday, April 17 the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an order to reinstate the practice of ghost writing for pro bono attorneys providing brief representation. 

This practice was revoked in the second half of 2019 requiring pro bono attorneys to provide their name and bar number when assisting in pro bono or brief legal advice situations. This requirement diminished pro bono representation throughout the state. Attorneys are less likely to accept pro bono representation and provide drafting assistance to pro se litigants because of the presumption that inclusion of an attorney name and bar number implicates broader representation. This leads to more parties representing themselves, clogging the judicial system and potentially yielding less than positive results for the litigant. This can lead to a myriad of issues for the litigant including but not limited to homelessness, joblessness, disruption of the family unit and general personal turmoil. 

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Probate Bench-Bar Committee Meeting - Key Take-Aways

Key take-aways from April 14 meeting:

  • The procedures for court proceedings with respect to Chapters 51, 54, and 55 will be published and subsequently forwarded to this group.
  • Waivers are key documents for the opening and closing of estates; please obtain them from all interested parties.
  • Temporary guardianship hearings are currently being held on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Permanent guardianship hearings may not be held because of the various in-person statutory requirements.
  • The judges are looking for ways to keep cases moving and getting them closed; they want to avoid calendar congestion when Safer at Home is no longer in effect. 
  • Zoom hearings are to be used whenever possible, if all interested parties may be heard using this technique. 
  • For any hearings scheduled via Zoom, the clerk will send the passcode and other information necessary for participation. 
  • If you have questions or problems, please reach out to the court via the clerks.
  • The deadline for guardianship accountings has been unofficially extended through the end of the month; there is no need to petition for an extension until then. 
  • Please exercise caution in using innovative techniques for the execution of documents such as wills; what the current judges may find acceptable now may not be what the judges a decade from now will find acceptable.
  • Next Bench-Bar Meeting via Zoom will be on May 11th at noon.