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Supreme Court accepts 2 new cases

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has voted to grant review in two cases. The case numbers, issues (provided by the Office of the Clerk of Supreme Court), and counties of origin are listed below. To read the full records, go to the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office, Suite 215, Tenney Building, 110 E. Main St., Madison. 2007AP2584 Zellner v. Herrick This certification ...

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Opponents bow out in Winnebago County court race (72376)

Voters in Winnebago County who cast a ballot this spring for Branch 6 judge should have an easy choice. The only name that will appear on the ballot is the same one that has been there since 1991. But that was not the case several weeks ago, at least officially. Last August, Judge Bruce K. Schmidt announced he would not ...

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Controversial campaign review committee is back for second year

Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee (WJCIC) head Thomas J. Basting, Sr. admitted that the amount of negative publicity the eight-member group generated during its first year caught him by surprise. But he expects a quieter 2009 for the WJCIC, despite the fact that there is another contested state Supreme Court race. “Did we learn a lesson from last year?” Basting ...

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High court extends employee protection

Boston (Dolan) — A worker who suffered retaliation after participating in an internal sex harassment inquiry may pursue a Title VII claim, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled. Vicky Crawford was a 30-year county employee when she was interviewed as part of an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations made by another worker. During the interview, she described incidents of ...

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Supreme Court OKs pat down

Boston (Dolan) — An officer who stopped a vehicle for a minor infraction, then asked a passenger to get out and patted him down did not violate the Fourth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled. The case stemmed from a 2002 traffic stop for a minor insurance infraction. During the stop, an officer noticed defendant Lemon Johnson in the ...

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SPD payments to private bar could be delayed up to three months

Attorney Michael E. Covey loves taking appointments from the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office. He also does not mind waiting tables or bartending, which is good news given the SPD may have to delay paying private bar attorneys for up to three months. According to SPD officials, the agency could have to defer approximately $5 million in reimbursements until the ...

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Bill seeks to waive immunity

State legislators recently introduced a bill that they say would restore the rights of state workers to sue the state for damages under four federal acts. But is the state willing to surrender its immunity to those cases? State Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, is sponsoring an Assembly bill as a response to four recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that he ...

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Supreme Court: Cheerleading is a contact sport

People love to argue about sports. And lacking something really important to argue about, like a Bears-Packers game, they may turn to more trivial issues. Like whether auto racing is a sport, or just gearheads making a lot of left turns. Or whether snowboarding a real sport, or just hippies playing in the snow. But if a Wisconsin Supreme Court ...

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Negligent police conduct does not require evidence’s suppression

The exclusionary rule doesn’t bar evidence discovered after executing an invalid arrest warrant, provided the error was only negligent, and was attenuated from the arrest. Chief Justice John G. Roberts wrote for the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 14, “To trigger the exclusionary rule, police conduct must be sufficiently deliberate that exclusion can meaningfully deter it, and sufficiently culpable that ...

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Court finds argument frivolous

When facing an issue of first impression in the Seventh Circuit, an attorney should be able to make an argument that has been accepted by another circuit, without any worry that the argument may be found frivolous. However, a Jan. 16 Seventh Circuit opinion demonstrates that is not necessarily the case. Six defendants were convicted of drug charges under a ...

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Judge pulls out of sick-leave lawsuit

Hopes for a court order preventing Milwaukee’s sick-leave law from taking effect Feb. 10 could be dashed after Judge John DiMotto recused himself from the case Tuesday. That led to a cancellation of a Feb. 6 court hearing to consider the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s request to halt enforcement of the law. Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Elsa Lamelas ...

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Attorney shares inauguration trip

“Lambeau Field on steroids” is how Milwaukee attorney Jay A. Urban described the setting of President Barack Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20. Urban and his family attended the ceremony in Washington D.C., along with an estimated 2 million other Americans. “It was a mass of humanity, but to be in the moment was fantastic,” said Urban, who perched his 9-year-old ...

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Foreclosure: Helping hand from the bench?

As mortgage foreclosure filings rose in almost every county in Wisconsin last year, judges are evaluating whether or not they can take a more active role in addressing the problem. A recent report from the Director of State Courts office revealed that foreclosure filings increased 21 percent from 2007 to 2008. It marked the second year in a row that ...

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Court reverses out-state judges more often

During the nine years that the Wisconsin Law Journal has reviewed trial court reversals, one thing has remained constant; the judges in Milwaukee County get reversed less than out-state judges. In 2008, for example, all three judges with double-digit affirmances, and no reversals were from Milwaukee County. In both the previous two years, it was another Milwaukee judge, David Hansher, ...

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Open Dane County seat draws 3

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen E. Ehlke and private attorneys Julie Genovese and Charles Schutze are competing for the Branch 13 position currently held by Judge Michael N. Nowakowski. The 24-year veteran of the Dane County Circuit Court will retire at the end of July. While the candidates admit that replacing someone of Nowakowski’s stature will be difficult, they also say ...

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Brash, Konkol affirmed 16 times in 2008

Three Wisconsin circuit court judges — all from Milwaukee County — led the courts in facing review on appeal without being re-versed once in 2008. Judges William W. Brash, III, and Daniel L. Konkol were both reviewed 16 times in 2008, and affirmed 16 times, without blemish. Judge Brash joked that he is sure it’s only a temporary situation. “But ...

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DOT wants to cap legal fees for takings

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation wants to make it more difficult for property owners to contest the price the state agency offers when it acquires their land for public construction projects. WisDOT wants to shut down a tactic used by lawyers to ensure the state, and not their clients, pays legal bills. But lawyers who represent property owners say the ...

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Candidates seek Kenosha’s new branch

Even though Kenosha County did not rank among the top 10 in judicial need in the state, according to a 2006 study, an eighth branch was created by the current biennium budget, in part because of population growth in the area. Candidates for the new seat insist that, statistics aside, legislators realized that an additional branch was long overdue. The ...

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British attorney continues wait to practice

Gail C. Worley is frustrated. She is a graduate of a prominent law school with more than three years of practice experience in commercial litigation at an emerging mid-size firm. But it has been seven years since she appeared in a courtroom or signed her name to a brief, in part, because of a state rule that prohibits foreign-trained attorneys ...

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Failure to report to jail is not violent crime

A mere failure to report to jail is not a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), according to the nation’s highest court. The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 13 unanimously held that the 15-year minimum for defendants convicted of felon in possession of a firearm is not triggered by a prior conviction for failure to report to ...

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County goes to market for jail cash

A shaky bond market offers La Crosse County a risky but rewarding shot at $19.5 million to pay for a jail expansion project, according to County Administrator Steve O’Malley. “For the last few months, the (national municipal bond market) has been so volatile,” he said. “But since Jan. 1, it’s clear the market has recovered somewhat, and we could take ...

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Year in Review 2008: Important Opinions

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT CIVIL OPINIONS Antitrust Taverns are immune from Wisconsin antitrust law under the implied repeal doctrine, despite agreeing not to offer drink specials.2005AP1063 Eichenseer v. Madison-Dane County Tavern League, Inc.Issue date: 5/12/2008 Civil Procedure Municipalities do not have a right to intervene in an action challenging a state law on constitutional grounds, even if the case could impede ...

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Year in Review 2008: Important Opinions (Part 2)

In a trial for sexual assault of a child, an expert may not testify that in her opinion, a witness’ testimony was not coached.2007AP2064-CR State v. KruegerIssue date: 10/6/2008 When a minor’s oral statement is presented at trial instead of testimony, the court reporter must transcribe the testimony.2008AP175-CR State v. Ruiz-VelezIssue date: 11/3/2008 Testimony regarding death scene evidence is admissible ...

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2009 Contested Judicial races

While another contested race for a seat on the state Supreme Court highlights the spring judicial election cycle, there are 17 circuit court positions that could be filled by first-time judges. Five incumbents will face challengers, another six judges are not seeking re-election, four are vacant seats and two are new offices. Last year there were only 10 contested circuit ...

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