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Author Archives: GREGG HERMAN

Out of the mouths of babes

While a child of 16 years with a car is going to make his or her own decision about placement, do we really want to give a 7 year old that authority?

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The right to self-represent

In 1975, The United States Supreme Court held that a criminal defendant has a constitutional right to waive counsel and self-represent in a criminal case. Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975).  While the trial court has a responsibility to discourage self-representation, it cannot prohibit it. The result can be (and usually is) the circus occurring in the Waukesha trial of the Christmas parade driver Darrell Brooks.

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A resource for family law cases

Ten years ago, the average number of cases to report on, between Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals (published and citeable unpublished cases) was 15-20 per year. So far this year, there have been zero Supreme Court cases, one published Court of Appeals case and four citeable unpublished Court of Appeals cases.

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Batter up for some judicial activism

The term “judicial activism” is commonly thrown around to disparage judges. It generally is used to accuse courts of being too aggressive or too liberal.  A recent court of appeals decision contains an element which raises an interesting question.

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The U.S. Supreme Court and politics

It would be pointless to write a column on the United States legal system and ignore the two significant cases which the court decided this week. One case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen significantly expanded gun rights by striking down a New York law which restricted the right of New Yorkers to carry handguns in public.

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Look ahead to 2022 with family law

Last month’s column took a look back at the developments in family law for 2021. So, it seems appropriate to dedicate this month’s column to a look ahead to 2022.

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The high conflict divorce

My late partner, Leonard Loeb, used to say that every lawyer has at least one case which they think is the cause of most of their headaches and lost sleep. The lawyer thinks “as soon as that case is completed, my life will be so much easier.” But, naturally, as soon as that case does wrap up, there is another one with the same effect on the lawyer.

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BEING JUDGEY: Why we should pick the best qualified candidates for the bench

Nothing in our legal system is more important than judges. Cases proceed (or don’t proceed) and resolve largely on the basis of the individual proclivities of the person wearing the robe. A good judge can make a complex, difficult case into a resolvable one and a bad judge can do the opposite. The judge sets the tone for civility and ...

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How support has changed in the age of COVID-19

Although I’m normally not one to bemoan the “good old days” gone by, there are instances in which I do. And given the unprecedented and unusual circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak as it affects the legal system, one such instance comes to mind.

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A MARRIAGE STORY: Does recent film offer Hollywood view of divorce, or is it close to real life?

Although I consider myself a movie buff, I typically dislike movies about lawyers and the legal system. For example, although Paul Newman (a great actor) was nominated for the Academy Award for playing a lawyer in “The Verdict”, I found the movie irritating (at best). Apparently, the rules against ex parte contact with the court were unknown to the script writers.

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2019 IN REVIEW

After a year of writing this column for the Wisconsin Law Journal, it is time to take a look back at the main issues for the year. This affords me the opportunity of taking another kick at such cats as seem to warrant another kick.

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Who wants to be friends – with a judge?

On Jan. 13, 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the question of who can be friends with a judge – at least in the cyber world. The implications of the case may affect the use of ESM (Electronic Social Media) by judges and bring into play the adage “bad facts make bad law”.

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Should courts ever grant grandparents’ visitation rights against parents’ wishes?

It is rare enough that the Wisconsin Supreme Court decides a family-law case (the last one of any significance was McReath eight years ago) and even more rare when the case involves issues of constitutional law. The court’s recent decision in Michels v. Kelsey, 2019 WI 57 also involves issues of the nature of family in our society and the effect of the legal system on families.

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