Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bar proposal makes sense

In a letter to the editor, [link corrected --ed.] Patrick Fiedler, president of the State Bar of Wisconsin, responds to a Wisconsin Law Journal editorial on the Bar's revised bylaw and related rule petition 13-07.
"The Governance Committee chose to define 'misconduct' or conduct 'contrary to the best interest of the State Bar' based upon research of other state bar associations and their removal provisions. The wording is inherently broad and was purposely drafted that way. Trying to draft a specified list of conduct that would be subject to removal would be an almost impossible task, and would create an inflexible standard unable to be used for unthinkable situations.

"... the Governance Committee effectively was able to put into place safeguards protecting a governor’s First Amendment rights in the unfortunate event that the removal provision would need to be implemented. As such, the Governance Committee, and the majority of the board, decided that the threshold for removal of a governor or officer was to be set at '75 percent of the total membership of the board, including the governor or officer subject to removal.' This high threshold serves to discourage use of the provision for mere disagreements of opinion or for 'voicing concerns contrary to the majority opinion of the bar.'

"If a governor or officer was threatened with removal for what they believed was protected speech or conduct, that individual would have the opportunity to make their case to the full board before removal could be effected, and if removed, could bring a cause of action against the State Bar if they believed appropriate."