The Wisconsin Supreme Court has the constitutional responsibility to supervise the practice of law and protect the public from misconduct by persons practicing law in Wisconsin. Referees, who are attorneys or reserve judges, are appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court pursuant to SCR 22.13(3) when the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) files a disciplinary complaint against a lawyer, files a petition alleging that a lawyer suffers from medical incapacity, or requests review of an agreement between OLR and a lawyer for a consensual reprimand. Referees may also be appointed when a lawyer files a petition seeking reinstatement from a license suspension or revocation, and in other instances as the court deems appropriate.
A referee has the powers of a judge trying a civil action (SCR 22.16) and may preside at public hearings to consider allegations that a lawyer has committed professional misconduct, suffers from medical incapacity, or to consider if a lawyer should be reinstated to the practice of law following license suspension or revocation.
Referees typically submit a written report to the Supreme Court, including findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a recommendation of dismissal or discipline. The Supreme Court reviews referee reports and independently determines whether to accept the referees recommendation. More information about the referee procedures is available in the Referee Benchbook.
Questions or comments about the referee bench book may be directed to:
Clerk of Supreme Court
Attention: Deputy Clerk-OLR/Rules
Referee Benchbook Project
P.O. Box 1688
Madison, WI 53701-1688