2008 WI 11
Supreme Court of
This order is subject to further editing and modification. The final version will appear in the bound volume of the official reports.
In the matter of the Petition for Revision of SCR 10.04
Concerning the Officers of the State Bar of
In the matter of a petition to review State Bar bylaw amendment
FEB 12, 2008
David R. Schanker
Clerk of Supreme Court
Pending before this court are two related regulatory matters. On July 18, 2007, the State Bar of Wisconsin (State Bar) filed a petition asking the court to amend Supreme Court Rule 10.04 to limit the terms of office of its president and chairperson of the board of governors each to a single term. On September 21, 2007, Attorney Steven Levine filed a petition pursuant to SCR 10.13(2), asking this court to review a State Bar bylaw amendment proposing changes to the geographic requirements imposed on certain State Bar candidates.
Because the bylaw amendment derives from the same initiative giving rise to the State Bar's petition to amend Supreme Court Rule 10.04, the court and the parties agreed it was appropriate for the court to consider these two matters together.
A public hearing was held on December 10, 2007. State Bar President Thomas J. Basting, Sr., presented the State Bar's petition. Attorney Levine appeared and testified in opposition to the petition. Attorney Levine then presented his petition urging the court to reject the proposed bylaw change.
At the ensuing open administrative conference, the court voted, 4-3, to grant the State Bar’s rule petition limiting the terms of office of the president and chairperson of the board of governors each to one term. With respect to the bylaw amendments, the court noted that the proposed changes to sections one through four of the bylaws were largely stylistic in nature. The court approved those changes with minimal discussion. However, section 5 of the proposed bylaws would have provided as follows:
Section 5. Regional Diversity of Officers. In order to encourage participation by
lawyers throughout the State in the leadership of the State Bar, any year’s
nominees for the office of President-Elect shall be from only one of four areas
within the State of
The State Bar explained that this proposed amendment was intended to codify the State Bar’s traditional practice and to protect the ability of out-state attorneys to run for office without opposition from attorneys from the Milwaukee or Dane County areas. Attorney Levine countered that the amendment would preclude interested candidates from any county from running for State Bar office for several years.
After some discussion about the appropriate standard of review applicable to bylaw amendments, the court voted to reject proposed section 5 in its entirety. Justice Prosser dissented from this decision, noting that while he did not support proposed Section 5, he considered it ill-advised for the court to involve itself with internal bar governance.
Accordingly, effective the date of this order, Supreme Court Rule SCR 10.04 (3m) is created to read:
10.04 (3m) Term of Office. The office of president and chairperson of the board of governors shall be for one term only. The offices of secretary and treasurer may be held for more than one term.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that effective the date of this order, Article II, Section 1 of the State Bar Bylaws is amended to read:
Nominations. The President‑Elect,
the Secretary and the Treasurer of the State Bar shall be elected from a list
of candidates nominated in the following manner
President of the Association with approval of the Board of Governors shall
A a committee of five members to nominate candidates
for said offices to be voted on at the next annual election shall be
appointed by the President of the Association with the approval of the Board of
nomination committee shall be approved at the first regularly scheduled
Board meeting following the annual convention.
Such reportThe committee shall name oneissue a report naming two or
more candidates nominated by the committeenominees for the Office
of President‑Elect, two or more candidates nominated_nominees
for the Office of Secretary and two or more candidates nominated nominees
for the Office of Treasurer. Before
making its report, the committee shall solicit from the membership the names of
members interested in seeking nomination to any office scheduled for
election. The committee shall make its
report no later than December 15 in each year.
persons may be nominated for any of said offices by petition
signed in the
case of each candidate. Each
nominee must provide a petition signed by not less than one hundred active
members of the Association. ,
and The petition must be filed in the Office of the Executive
Director on or before the first business day of February of the year of the
election , provided that before the filing of such petition. Before
such a petition may be filed, the nominee must consent in a written
statement shall be endorsed thereon by the nominee to the effect that the
member consents to nomination for the office designated in the petition.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Article II, Section 3 of the State Bar Bylaws is amended to read:
Election of Chairperson of the Board of Governors.
Board shall elect a Chairperson of the Board of Governors shall be elected by the Board from its members at its last regular
meeting each fiscal year. The President
shall appoint a nominating committee from the governors toat the second to last regular
Board meeting of the fiscal year. The
committee shall nominate one or more candidates for this office. at
the second to last regular Board meeting of the fiscal year. Those eligible for nomination and election to
this office shall be are:
all who are then members of thecurrent Board members,
including members whose second terms expire that June, except for the President
and President‑Elect. While serving
in that office as Chairperson of the Board, the Chairperson of
the Board shall be a governor at large and no longer a district governor.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Article II, Section 4 of the State Bar Bylaws is amended to read:
Section 4. Commencement of Term of Office. The terms of all out-going officers of the Association and the Chairperson of the Board of Governors shall end, and the term of their successors shall commence, on the first day of July.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the proposed creation of Article II, Section 5 of the State Bar Bylaws as set forth above is rejected by the court in its entirety.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that notice of these amendments of Supreme Court Rule 10.04 and the State Bar Bylaws be given by a single publication of a copy of this order in the official state newspaper and in an official publication of the State Bar of Wisconsin.
BY THE COURT:
David R. Schanker
Clerk of Supreme Court
¶1 DAVID T. PROSSER, J. (concurring). I concur reluctantly in the court's decision to approve the petition of the State Bar of Wisconsin to limit the terms of office of the bar president and chairperson of the board of governors, respectively, to a single term.
¶2 As a matter of personal preference, I oppose the State Bar's petition; yet I have voted for it because of my belief that the Supreme Court should not micromanage the governance of the bar. I have voted against Attorney Levine's petition for the same reason, even though I see some merit in it.
SCR 10.13(2) provides that the bylaws of the State Bar are subject to amendment
or abrogation by resolution adopted by vote of two-thirds of the members of the
board of governors, or action of the members of the association expressed
through the referendum procedure defined in SCR 10.08. When any change in the bylaws has been made
by the board of governors, the notice and a copy of the amendatory resolution
is published in the
Justice Abrahamson, Justices Bradley, Prosser and