A call to hold the legal profession accountable to the public and the rule of law is the subject of the lede editorial this morning in the GOP-leaning Wisconsin State Journal.
The fact—acknowledged in the Wisconsin legal communities—is that the regulatory state agency charged with policing the legal profession is toothless, weak and lazy.
The Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) should be more open and accountable, the State Journal argues.
"The Wisconsin Supreme Court is wisely considering a more open process that would warn the public about the worst cases the OLR is investigating," notes the editorial.
This is because investigating lawyers now is a secret and closed process, as though the public had no stake in ridding the practice of law of bad actors.
This situation injures the public more profoundly when the the lawyer in question assumes the role of public prosecutor, enjoying immunity for a whole range of offenses that ought to have the public half-scared to death.
The role of the prosecutor ought to see this public official committed as a zealot to ethics and morality in this office.
The best practices of an entire profession are threatened by secrecy and careerism, but when I hear "lawyer," I think of the prosecutor.
This year Wisconsin will elect a new attorney general.
Robert Jackson's words speak loudly this century:
"A sensitiveness to fair play and sportsmanship is perhaps the best
protection against the abuse of power, and the citizen’s safety lies in
the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and
not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who
approaches his task with humility."
Don't think we're there yet.
Maybe the 10 months before the next election will see the candidates for attorney general appearing before the Wisconsin people in open forums and not so much hiding in the shadows of the State Bar of Wisconsin.
Maybe opening up the process of policing the profession as a whole will become an ideal to which we aspire.