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2008AP2897 Northern Air Services, Inc., v. Link

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//July 14, 2011//

2008AP2897 Northern Air Services, Inc., v. Link

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//July 14, 2011//

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Civil Procedure
Postjudgment motions; timeliness

It is within the clerk of circuit court’s discretion as an elected constitutional officer to accept and file pleadings received after the end of usual business hours, so long as that discretion is exercised reasonably and is within the guidelines provided by the legislature.

“Jack’s proposed bright-line rule would strip the circuit court clerk of the discretion to handle a variety of situations that require a certain amount of flexibility, such as long lines, understaffing, and other unanticipated events. For example, as noted in Granado, a rigid rule would arguably prohibit the clerk of circuit court from having his or her office open after usual business hours on election night. ‘Similarly, the rule would prevent a clerk of circuit court traveling with a judge to a court outside the county seat from accepting pleadings or filing papers associated with a jury trial that continues beyond business hours.’ Granado, 228 Wis. 2d at 802.”

“This does not mean that the clerk of circuit court has a limitless amount of discretion in accepting pleadings after usual business hours. As Granado explained, when considering whether a clerk erroneously exercises his or her discretion in filing a pleading, ‘the further removed from an office’s legislative guidelines and usual business hours a transaction occurs, the less likely it is that the papers have been properly deposited.’ Granado, 228 Wis. 2d at 804-05. We believe this flexible case-by-case approach provides an appropriate amount of discretion to the clerk of circuit court.”

“The instant case is a prime example of why this flexible approach is preferable to Jack’s proposed bright-line rule. Jay’s counsel called the Washburn County Clerk of Circuit Court at 4:17 p.m. on the twentieth day following the jury’s verdict for Phase II of the trifurcated trial——the final day the parties could timely file their postverdict motions under Wis. Stat. § 805.16——to tell the clerk they would be late, but they were in route to the clerk’s office. At 4:32 p.m., two minutes after the close of usual business hours, Jay’s counsel submitted Jay’s postverdict motions, which the clerk accepted and filed. We conclude this was not an abuse of the circuit court clerk’s discretion.”

Affirmed in part and Reversed in part.

2008AP2897 Northern Air Services, Inc., v. Link

Gableman, J.

Attorneys: For Appellant: Bowen, Michael A., Milwaukee; Heffernan, Michael S., Madison; Mulligan, Thomas O., Spooner; Aprahamian, Michael J., Milwaukee; Keenan, Brian, Milwaukee; For Respondent: Hart, Webster A., Eau Claire; Norton, Brian P., Chicago, IL; Finn, Stephanie L., Eau Claire; Heit, Jay E., Eau Claire; Freeborn, Michael D., Chicago, IL; Kornak, Michael P., Chicago, IL

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