Category Archives: Courts

WI Appeals Court Affirms No Constitutional Right to View Porn in the Library

Today, the Third District Court of Appeals affirmed that library patrons do not have a constitutional right to view pornography on library computers.

The defendant was cited for disorderly conduct in 2014 after a couple of students reported he was watching pornography on a UW Eau Claire library computer.

From Channel 3000:

Reidinger argued he has a First Amendment right to view legal adult pornographic material at a public library. He also alleged UW System administrators, campus police and Eau Claire County prosecutors conspired to harass him.

The 3rd District Court of Appeals rejected his arguments Tuesday, ruling that the evidence showed Reidinger’s conduct tended to provoke a disturbance. The court opted not to address his harassment allegations, calling them unsupported and undeveloped.

The full opinion is available on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Case Access system (WSCCA).

Thanks to my colleague, Mary Jo Koranda, for alerting me to the story.

Dane County Court Converts to E-records

Beginning in January, the Dane County Clerk of Court’s office will convert to electronic record-keeping.  All records must be filed electronically or scanned in on receipt.  However, print copies may be obtained at the usual statutory rate of $1.25 per page using the office’s public terminals.

According to the Isthmus, Dane County had already been keeping probate court records electronically as a test and the new system has worked well.  Other counties are also gradually phasing in the use of electronic records.

“I think Carlo [Esqueda, Dane Co. clerk of circuit court] sees the writing on the wall,” says John Barrett, clerk of circuit court for Milwaukee County. “E-filing is going to be mandatory.” Milwaukee is currently scanning in whole categories of filed documents, including criminal complaints and judgments, and receiving other filings in electronic form, as will Dane County.

Barrett notes that going electronic is “a culture shock” for some judges and others who still crave records in paper form. “I don’t think you will ever have a paperless court system,” he says. “I prefer to refer to it as paper on demand.” He believes electronic records are better for everyone involved. “You don’t have lost documents. The file itself will be chronologically in order every time you look at it.”

Gerrymandering Lawsuit to Proceed


Yesterday, a federal three-judge panel unanimously decided that a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s last legislative redistricting plan as an example of “extreme partisan gerrymandering” may proceed.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal:

“Although we believe that plaintiffs face significant challenges in prevailing on their claims, we conclude that plaintiffs’ complaint is sufficient to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,” wrote the panel, which includes U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, federal Circuit Judge Kenneth Ripple and Chief Judge William Griesbach, of the U.S. District Court in Milwaukee.

The ruling means that the case, Whitford v. Nichol, will continue with trial scheduled for May 2016.

The Wheeler Report shared this press release from the Wisconsin Fair Elections Project.

Legislation Relating to CCAP Dies

From the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin Government Relations Chair, Candace Hall Slaminski:

It appears all proposed legislation relating to CCAP has died this session.
AB 253 and SB 234, both relating to restricting access to and limiting information in CCAP, have failed this session.
AB 520, relating to removing certain information in CCAP, failed to pass this session.
SB 620, relating to removing from records and CCAP a criminal conviction if the person has been pardoned, failed to pass this session.
SB 526 and AB 685, both restricting information available on CCAP, have failed to pass this session.

Hear Ye, OYEZ to cover State Supreme Courts

OYEZ, the website long known for its coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court, plans to expand access to the proceedings of State Supreme Courts.
Through a grant from the Open Government project sponsored by the Knight Foundation, the OYEZ Project will enlarge its free online archive of transcripts, audio recordings, news and analysis of court proceedings and decisions.
The plan is to begin with five states: California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas and grow from there.
This expansion is in keeping with OYEZ’s longstanding mission of promoting transparency and open government.
Another article about OYEZ’s planned expansion may be viewed on the National Law Journal website.
Post by Eric Taylor, UW Law Library

Checklist for Filing Appellate Briefs in Wisconsin

According to the latest InsideTrack, the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin has created an Appellate Brief Filing Checklist outlining requirements to help lawyers during the brief-writing process.
The first part is a checklist with boxes permitting practitioners literally to check off the items as they are included in a brief, and the second part is an accompanying outline to explain the checklist.
Hat tip to my colleague, Bill Ebbott.

WI Sup Ct Recommends No Change to Rule Allowing Citation of Unpublished Appeals Court Opinions

From WisBar’s InsideTrack:

A state rule of appellate procedure that allows attorneys to cite unpublished Wisconsin Court of Appeals opinions as persuasive authority will continue unchanged, the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently concluded….
Under Wis. Stat. section 809.23(3)(b), only unpublished opinions issued on or after July 1, 2009, which are authored by a member of a three-judge panel or by a single judge under section 752.31(2), may be cited….
Because an unpublished opinion cited for its persuasive value is not precedent, it is not considered binding, and a court need not distinguish or otherwise discuss an unpublished opinion. No party has a duty to research or cite unpublished opinions under the rule….
But according to the Hon. Richard Brown, chief judge for the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, more unpublished opinions are being cited, at least in District II. He estimates that one in every 20 appellate briefs contains citation and discussion of unpublished decisions, which is a lot considering the number of cases handled by appeals court judges annually.
“Not only that, when reading the circuit court record in our cases, we see that unpublished opinions are being cited to the trial courts,” Chief Judge Brown said. “Whether an unpublished opinion is ‘persuasive’ is literally a case-by-case determination.”

Today in Wisconsin History – 1877, Passage of WI Law Prohibiting Denial of Admission to the Bar on the Basis of Gender

Today’s On This Day in Wisconsin History features the passage of a bill in the Wisconsin Legislature prohibiting denial of admission to the bar on the basis of gender.
Here’s more from the State Historical Society:

R. Lavinia Goodell was the first woman admitted to the Wisconsin State Bar in 1897. Goodell had first applied in 1875, but was denied because it was believed that women were not suited to practice law. According to Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward G. Ryan, “Nature has tempered woman as little for the juridicial conflicts of the court room, as for the physical conflicts of the battle field.”
Goodell then worked with the legislature to pass and defend enabling legislation. After the legislature passed it, she reapplied for admission to practice before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and her petition was granted on June 18, 1879, with Judge Ryan dissenting.

If you’re interested in learning more about Goodell, see her biography entitled, Strong-minded woman : the story of Lavinia Goodell, Wisconsin’s first female lawyer. Note that it is written for young readers.

Mobile App for PACER Access Free for Limited Time

FedCtRecords is a iPhone/iPad app which allows registered PACER users to search and retrieve documents. It is free for a limited time.
According to the support page, you can:
* Search Attorney and Party names within a District Court.
* Add Attorney information to the Contacts Application.
* Save multiple cases for quick retrieval.
* View Party and Attorney information.
* View Case Summary information.
* View Deadline and Hearings summary information.
* View Docket summary information.
* View and Email Docket Filings in pdf format.
Note that this application is for case searching only – it cannot be used to file documents.
Hat tip to LexScripta