Court System

Perhaps the most common question asked of me by friends, neighbors and family regarding the legal system is “How do I get out of jury service?”

Even before COVID, few people felt like giving up a day or two of their lives for little pay and a lot of boredom. The result is difficulty finding enough bodies to fill the 12-seat jury box (14 if alternates are selected). COVID has made a bad situation worse.

The Milwaukee Bar Association
Continue Reading Finding Jurors: We Need a way to Overcome Common Concerns About Public Service

Though I try to discuss new topics in each of my columns, every once in a while, there is something which merits further discussion.

Such is the case with a simple idea: Courts should serve the public. In particular, parties should be allowed to be divorced without the costs and inconvenience of a public court appearance.

Wis. Stats. §767.235(1) requires that “…all hearings and trials to determine whether judgment shall be granted…shall be before the court.” However, this is
Continue Reading Courts meant to serve the public

A few weeks out of law school, I got my dream job.

Then-Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann took a chance on a naïve, inexperienced, 24-year-old, a decision I’m sure he has since regretted many times! After some short training, I was sent into court and given two instructions: First, don’t f**k up. Second, if you do f**k up, don’t let it get in the newspapers.

Both were good pieces of advice. And although I violated both of
Continue Reading Exploiting an Abhorrent Act

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to make U.S. court documents free to the general public.  The bipartisan legislation would require the federal judiciary to create a new PACER system that would be free for public use.  PACER, which stands for Public Access to Court Electronic Records, is run by the Judicial Conference of the United States. Users currently pay $0.10 per page with a cap of $3 per document, excluding transcripts.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted
Continue Reading Bill to Make PACER Free Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee

By now, most of us are veterans at remote work (right)? In her State of the Judiciary address earlier this month, Wisconsin’s Chief Justice Annette Ziegler pointed out that some of the COVID-19 adaptations, including videoconferencing, were here to stay in at least some form.
And if we’re back in the office or never really left, we’ve mastered Zoom and navigating a deposition with dogs barking and the garbage truck backing up in the background. Whether law firms continue
Continue Reading To Spy or Not To Spy

​Nov. 4, 2021 – During her State of the Judiciary yesterday (Nov. 3), Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Annette Ziegler said the state’s justice system will build upon innovations forced by the pandemic to become more efficient.“Ultimately, people got creative and found new ways to get the work accomplished,” Chief Justice Ziegler said during the address at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Judicial Conference. “The last year-and-a-half may not have felt like a success as it unfolded.
Continue Reading State of the Judiciary: Chief Justice Ziegler Highlights Success in Meeting Pandemic Challenges

March 26, 2020 – COVID-19 vaccine eligibility now includes court system professionals, including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, victim witness coordinators, court clerks, and other individuals essential to in-person criminal court proceedings.

However, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), those who can work from home are asked to delay vaccination until May 1 or until supply is robust.

The DHS website notes that public defenders were eligible March 1, because of their close contact with incarcerated
Continue Reading COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Expanded to Court System Professionals