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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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Five seek open circuit court seat in Marathon County

There is nothing like an open seat to bring out a diverse group of judicial candidates.In a year which will have 18 contested judicial races, the one generating the most interest from candidates is in Marathon County. Two private practice attorneys, two court commissioners and one district attorney are vying for the vacant Branch 1 position, previously held by Judge ...

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Homicide dip lets prosecutors work cold cases

The lowest Milwaukee murder rate in more than two decades did not translate to less work for prosecutors, public defenders or the judges who hear homicide cases. But the decline in murders from 105 in 2007 to 71 last year has allowed assistant district attorneys to investigate and solve more “cold case” files. Prosecutor Mark S. Williams heads the five-person ...

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Suits over contact lens solution move forward

Boston — About 150 lawsuits are moving forward alleging that Complete MoisturePlus contact lens solution causes a nasty eye infection that can require corneal transplants and in some cases result in blindness. The majority of cases have been filed in a coordinated proceeding in state court in Orange County, Calif., where defendants Allergan and Advanced Medical Optics Inc. are headquartered. ...

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2008 Year in Review – Verdicts & Settlements

Verdicts & settlements Top 5 Verdicts for 2008 The following are the top five verdicts as reported to Wisconsin Law Journal’s Verdict & Settlement Reporter in 2008. Case Award Type/Injuries Plaintiffs’ Attorney(s) 1 Family, et al. v. Waukesha Memorial Hospital Inc., et al., Walworth County $35.3 million Medical malpractice: Spastic quadriplegia; hemiplegia; loss of speech; need for 24/7 care and ...

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Candidates Boll and Troupis seek better service from State Bar

The two candidates for State Bar of Wisconsin president-elect both want the organization to do more for its members. But attorneys James C. Boll, 42, and James R. Troupis, 55, have different ideas about how to achieve that goal. Boll, who is in-house counsel for Madison Gas & Electric, Co., supports a voluntary bar and said that it is time ...

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Child porn defendant will get new sentence

A defendant convicted of distributing child pornography must be resentenced, possibly without application of the 15-year mandatory minimum. In an opinion by Judge Frank H. Easterbrook, the Seventh Circuit held that, because it was not clear that his prior conviction for statutory rape was “abusive” as the term is defined by federal law, the five-year minimum may apply instead. Easterbrook ...

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Gableman drops countersuit against Judicial Commission

Rather than proceed with a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Gableman and his attorneys will save their arguments for a three-judge panel which will review allegations of misconduct against the justice. In a response to the WJC’s request to dismiss the countersuit, attorneys for Gableman agreed to abandon the claim without prejudice on Jan. ...

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Three easy steps to improve your A/V capabilities

Boston – Interface with clients. Perform a mock trial. View a recorded deposition. An effective small firm can be expected to service clients in multiple cities and states, and that can’t always be done face-to-face. To accommodate these expectations, many firms have adopted new videoconferencing capabilities. Richey Madison, a law firm planner and architectural designer at Saint Louis, Mo.-based strategic ...

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