Wisconsin State Bar: supports court system budget requests

Madison, WI – This week, the Wisconsin State Public Defender and District Attorneys released their 2023-2025 tax demands, which include increases from the previous year’s funding levels.

In response, Wisconsin State Bar President Margaret Hickey released this statement:

“Wisconsin’s justice system is at a critical point, exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic on caseload and the challenges of recruiting and retaining experienced staff in today’s tight labor market. The State Bar of Wisconsin supports funding for public prosecutors and defenders that is sufficient to ensure the ethical and effective representation of the public and defendants in criminal cases. The State Bar supports calls for increased funding to the Office of the State Public Defender and Wisconsin District Attorneys to attract and retain experienced and talented public defenders and prosecutors, as well as the staff needed to support this work.

Of particular note is an increase in the fee paid to private attorneys who take cases assigned by the Public Defenders Office. The Legislative Assembly took a step in the right direction by recognizing the importance of proper reimbursement by increasing the rate to $70 in the 2019-20 budget. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t enough.

“The State Bar believes that raising the private bar rate to an acceptable and adequate level will increase the pool of qualified attorneys willing to take private bar business and make appointments more efficient. Delays in our justice system would decrease, costly appeals could be avoided, and fewer victims would be re-victimized by drawn-out legal proceedings. The Wisconsin State Bar strongly believes that our justice system needs these fiscal investments and our attorney members look forward to working with the Governor and Legislature to incorporate these needs into the upcoming budget.