Wisconsin District BAR Association Committees
The Communications Committee is currently co-chaired by the two most immediate Past Presidents of the Association. The Communications Committee is primarily responsible for soliciting and gathering material for the WDBA’s quarterly newsletter and overseeing its production. Newsletters are typically issued in September, December, March, and June.
Newsletter content is broadly defined to include matters of interest to federal court practitioners generally, or affecting practice before the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. Members of the WDBA are encouraged to submit articles to the Communications Committee.
The Criminal Law Committee welcomes participation by all WDBA members with an interest in federal criminal law. We especially encourage Federal Public Defenders, CJA panel attorneys, and prosecutors, to join. This committee’s goals are (1) to provide continuing legal education and training to criminal law practitioners on trends and topics in federal criminal law and trial practice and (2) to help maintain a competitive yet amicable bar by supporting professionalism, communication, and civility among federal criminal practioners.
Pro Bono/Pro Se
The Western District of Wisconsin Bar Association Pro Bono Committee maintains a list of attorneys who are willing to serve as pro bono counsel, and helps the court find lawyers who are willing to volunteer in appropriate cases. The need is considerable. In an average year, more than 350 cases are filed in the Western District of Wisconsin by plaintiffs representing themselves – the great majority by prisoners alleging denial of their civil rights. In some cases, the court has determined that obtaining representation for the plaintiff is important.
Over the past decade, attorneys admitted to practice in this district have contributed many hours to pro bono representation of these indigent plaintiffs. The attorneys listed here have been specially recognized by the court for their voluntary contributions.
In addition to assisting in the recruitment process, the Committee conducts CLE programs ON pro bono representation, provides informal support to volunteer attorneys who need it, and administers a fund for reimbursing volunteer attorneys for some of their out-of-pocket costs. Attorneys who agree to take a pro bono appointment should fill out this form for approval of reimbursement by the presiding judge. The court’s procedures for reimbursement of expenses are available here.
The Membership Committee assists the WDBA in recruiting new members and maintaining its current members. Its activities include participating in the Court’s semi-annual swearing-in ceremony for new members of the Western District Bar, and helping to plan social events for the WDBA’s members.
The Courthouse Facilities Committee is responsible for maintaining the Attorney’s Room at the Federal Courthouse. The Attorney’s Room includes a copier, facsimile, telephone, and computers that may be used for word processing. The WDBA pays the telephone bills, and provides copy paper, pens, notepads, and other items for the convenience of counsel. The Attorney’s Room may be used by any attorney by obtaining the key from Clerk’s Office in Room 320. The Courthouse Facilities Committee also makes recommendations to the Board of Governors if the Committee determines that the courtrooms, or other facilities may be improved or modified to better serve practitioners and litigants alike.
Rules, Practice and Procedure
The Western District of Wisconsin is unusual in that it has very few local rules. Instead, the judges have developed practices and procedures to be followed by parties appearing before the Court. Some, but not all, are set forth in standing orders of the Court. The purpose of the Practices and Procedures Committee is take note of such information, working with the Court, and to disseminate such information to the Bar Association’s membership and others who appear before the Court.
In 2002, the Western District Bar Association established a Web Site Committee. The Web Site Committee, with the assistance of the State Bar, established a web site that is accessible by both its members and the public alike at http://www.wisbar.org/bars/west/.
The Committee is responsible for determining the content of the WDBA’s web site. During 2003, the Web Site Committee included the following information on the WDBA’s site: calendar of events; past newsletters; past CLE materials; Judicial Practice Expectations; committee mission statements; links to helpful Federal web sites; the WDBA Bylaws; a list of Past Presidents; and rosters listing the Officers and Board Members.
The Web Site Committee’s on-going mission is to chose appropriate content and maintain a web site that serves as a useful resource for members of the organization. To that end, the Committee welcomes any suggestions to expand or improve the content of the site. Future projects include providing sample electronic documents, and evaluating whether the posting of unpublished opinions would be useful to its members.