Court System

For the past several years, Wisconsin has ranked near the top of the country for racial disparity in nearly every category related to the juvenile justice system.1

State and national trends also support that there is a particular group of youth of color that are uniquely susceptible to involvement in the juvenile justice system: those who have a disability. Nationally, children with disabilities are removed from school and referred to and involved in the juvenile justice system at
Continue Reading Interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline at the Intersection of Race and Disability

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley gives remarks during an Admissions ceremony on Jan. 23, 2024, in the Supreme Court Hearing Room.

April 11, 2024 – Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley announced today that she will retire from the court when her term ends in July 2025. When she retires next year, she will have served 30 years as a justice, 40 years total on the bench.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to
Continue Reading Justice Ann Walsh Bradley Announces Retirement from Supreme Court

The idea of a family drug treatment court is that it takes teamwork, collaboration, and commitment to successfully rehabilitate participants with substance use disorders via a community-based alternative to incarceration.

Milwaukee County’s Family Drug Treatment Court (FDTC), begun in May 2011, and was a first for Wisconsin. The program diverts participants from the traditional justice system into a specialty court and creates an individualized plan that takes into account the participant’s mental and physical health as well as any
Continue Reading An Overview of Milwaukee County’s Family Drug Treatment Court

Redistricting takes center stage at the Wisconsin Supreme Court this November as the court’s sole case set for oral argument is an original action addressing the constitutionality of the current state legislative maps. Let’s dive right in.
Cases Decided
No merits decisions were issued in the last month. However, the court did issue a series of published orders pertaining to the redistricting litigation discussed below. On October 6, the court released a Memorandum Decision and Order of Justice Janet
Continue Reading Wisconsin Supreme Court Update: November 2023

Occasionally in the law, the irresistible force meets the unmovable object.

This occurs when two public policies, with close to if not equal merits, conflict. While frustrating because one valid interest has to yield, it can lead to a fascinating examination of the relative merits of each policy. Little, if anything, is more absorbing in legal practice.

Unfortunately, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, facing such an opportunity, chose to punt, and it wasn’t even fourth down. Put another
Continue Reading Court of Appeals Punts

Nov. 1, 2023 – Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Annette Ziegler used her third State of the Judiciary address on Nov. 1 to highlight ongoing concerns with judicial security and statewide mental health.

For the second straight year, Ziegler began her address, which took place at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Judicial Conference, by discussing the ongoing threat to judicial security.

In last year’s address, Chief Justice Ziegler used the murder of Juneau County Circuit Court Judge
Continue Reading State of the Judiciary: Chief Justice Ziegler Again Highlights Judicial Security

September 15, 2023
In this issue:


The ever-changing landscape of state government requires businesses across all industries to stay informed on the happenings in Madison. Welcome to Ruder Ware’s Capitol Connection. Director of Public Affairs John Jacobson will provide nonpartisan news and analysis from Madison regarding workforce development, changes in tax and regulation, and other general topics that may impact you or your business.


Continue Reading Capitol Connection: September 2023 Issue

Wisconsin Supreme Court Update: July & August 2023
The Wisconsin Supreme Court finished up its 2023–24 term in June, issuing a slew of new decisions and granting review in one new case for next term. In this update, we take a closer look at the civil cases the court decided to round out the term.
Cases Decided
Allsop Venture Partners III v. Murphy Desmond SC, No. 2020AP806


Decision Filed: June 2, 2023

Public Citation: 2023 WI 43

Continue Reading Wisconsin Supreme Court Update: July/August 2023

Wisconsin, in addition to its extensive dairy industry and cold winters, is notable for being
one of the few states in the country where juveniles are subject to adult prosecution at age 17.

Thus, in Wisconsin, a juvenile can go through the adult criminal justice system a full year before reaching the age of adulthood. Naturally this dynamic is a matter of controversy, as it can have wide-ranging consequences for the individual charged.
Advantages of Juvenile Court
It is
Continue Reading The Freedom to be Kids: Observations of Charging 17-year-olds in Adult Court

The judge is the most important role in having a fair and efficient legal system. Properly performed, it requires intelligence, compassion, savvy and patience. All of those attributes may (or may not) deteriorate with age. So, should there be a mandatory retirement age for judges, like there is for airline pilots?

The issue is highlighted most recently by the case of 95-year-old Judge Pauline Newman, the oldest active federal judge in the nation. She is famous (infamous?) for having
Continue Reading Age Isn’t Just a Number When It Comes to Mandatory Judicial Retirement


Much as I like to vary topics in my monthly column, the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court election presents too much fodder for comment and is too important to simply let it go.

First, the good news: The election means no more ads! I am so sick of the other side being called an extremist and “he/she is not for us” (whatever that means). There is a saying that the only good thing about banging your head against the
Continue Reading The Good, Bad, Worse News to Come from the Supreme Court Election

The April oral argument calendar for the moment appears to be the last of the term for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and there’s only one civil case on it. Meanwhile, we have three civil decisions to review, touching on issues ranging from real estate, to public employment, to insurance. Read on for all the latest from Wisconsin’s highest court.
Cases Decided
Casanova v. Polsky, No. 2019AP1728 & 2019AP2063

Real Estate

Decision Filed: March 16, 2023

Public Citation: 2023 WI 
Continue Reading Wisconsin Supreme Court Update: April 2023

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