January 14, 2005
Good deed by Supreme Court
The Wisconsin Supreme Court made a good move this week by mandating all lawyers practicing in Wisconsin to pay $50 into a fund to be used for poor civil litigants. Hardly enough to pinch any attorney, the decision sends a message to the Bar Association that all lawyers should be concerned about the inequality present when poor people go to court against well-healed opponents.
A better way to tax the lawyers would be to require the equivalent of one billable hour per year for all, and more for those employed as outside counsel by the state. Lawyers who take in millions of dollars when they are retained by the Legislature or the governor charge anywhere between $150 and $500 per hour. Who pays those fees? The taxpayers, many of whom could not afford a consultation with one of those lawyers let alone a retainer fee. Think they could put in two free billable hours and still go out to dinner now and then?
Justices Prosser and Wilcox voted against the plan.
Congratulations to the five who voted yes. Now they might take up where Justice Ryan left of in 1873. Time to get campaign contributions out of judicial elections. Seems to me the court could take on that issue without waiting for Godot--the Legislature.
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