WisBar News

News and developments from the State Bar of Wisconsin.

Oct. 13, 2020 – When homeowners constructed a 36x80x16-foot building on their Fond du Lac property, the neighbors complained that it violated the subdivision’s restrictions on structures other than “garages.” Recently, a state appeals court ruled for the homeowners. In Buehrens v. Schave, 2019AP1649 (Oct. 7, 2020), a three-judge panel for the District II Court of Appeals ruled that the structure must stand because the subdivision’s restrictive covenant on “garages” was not clear enough to require a different result. “Following well-established Wisconsin law, we must favor the free and unencumbered use of property when purported restrictions in covenants are not…
Oct. 8, 2020 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled (4-3) that the Wisconsin Legislature has authority to represent the state’s interests in the validity of state laws, a win for Republicans seeking to block election extensions granted amidst COVID-19. The decision, coupled with a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, means that a prior federal district court decision to extend certain deadlines related to the November general election is no longer applicable. Today, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the extended deadlines after granting reconsideration “in light of” the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision.…
Oct. 6, 2020 – Circuit courts must revert to restrictions on in-person court proceedings if amending operational plans amidst COVID-19, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled (4-3) in an order that clarifies how circuit courts must manage changing circumstances. In March and April, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a number of orders that prohibited in-person proceedings, including jury trials, until further notice. The court system quickly shifted to remote proceedings through videoconferencing. In late May, the supreme court issued an order determining that “individual circuit courts of this state may begin gradually to resume in-person proceedings, including jury trials, on…
Sept. 28, 2020 – The “emeritus” classification of membership, which currently applies to members age 70 and older, would change under a proposal approved by the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors at its first (virtual) meeting of the fiscal year. The State Bar will now petition the Wisconsin Supreme Court seeking final approval of a classification change under court rules, SCR Chapter 10, which regulates the State Bar. The proposal would require attorneys ages 70 to 75 in “active” law practice to continue paying full State Bar dues (currently $260 annually) and to fulfill all continuing legal…
Sept. 23, 2020 – A state appeals court has ruled that a community organization that sought disclosure of a draft contract between the City of Waukesha and a professional baseball team is entitled to attorney fees in the public records litigation. Friends of Frame Park (Friends) tried to obtain a draft contract between Waukesha and Big Top Baseball LLC, which was pursuing plans to construct a stadium in Waukesha’s 34-acre Frame Park along the Fox River for summer league collegiate baseball. The city released the draft contract only after Friends sought a writ of mandamus in the circuit court, which…
Neenah attorney Kathleen Brost is sworn in as State Bar president by Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack. The ceremony took place at the State Bar Center in Madison in August and was recorded for the celebration event on Sept. 16 – a departure from tradition due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sept. 17, 2020 – In a year like no other and in a ceremony like none before, Neenah attorney Kathleen Brost was sworn in as the State Bar of Wisconsin’s​ 65th president. Brost took up the post on July 1, 2020. She was sworn in via a virtual…
Sept. 15, 2020 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court (4-3) has resolved a case that temporarily blocked the mailing of absentee ballots, ruling that two Green Party candidates did not meet the requirements to be named on the Nov. 3 election ballot. Last week the supreme court issued an order to halt the mailing of additional absentee ballots to take up the case filed by Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, members of the Green Party attempting to run for U.S. President and U.S. Vice President, respectively. The Wisconsin Election Commission, on August 20, ruled that Walker did not meet a ballot…
Sept. 11, 2020 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court (4-3) has temporarily blocked a Dane County public health order that prohibited public and private schools from providing in-person instruction, and required virtual learning until COVID-19 numbers decrease. On Aug. 21, Public Health Madison & Dane County issued an Emergency Order that required all schools to start the year with virtual learning for grades 3-12 and prohibited in-person learning for students, besides students in kindergarten through second grade. However, some school districts – including the Madison Metropolitan School District – had already decided to go to virtual before Dane County issued the…
Sept. 9, 2020 – The November election will be here before you know it. Amidst COVID-19, many people will want to know how to vote via absentee ballot, and lawyers can help their communities understand the timelines and requirements for doing so. The Wisconsin Election Commission and MyVoteWisconsin have a lot of information. This article highlights common questions lawyers can use to answer election questions from community members while informing themselves to ensure their votes count. When is the election? The fall 2020 General Election is Nov. 3, 2020. Wisconsin voters will cast ballots for U.S. President, U.S. Representatives, even-numbered…
Aug. 31, 2020 – A state appeals court has reversed a circuit court order expunging a defendant’s convictions, concluding he did not satisfy all conditions of his probation. Jordan Lickes was convicted on four charges stemming from sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old girl when he was 19. He received a jail sentence, a stayed prison sentence and probation, which required him to complete a sex offender treatment program. The court ordered that if Lickes successfully completed his probation (sentence), three of four counts (fourth degree sexual assault, disorderly conduct, and genital exposure) would be expunged under Wis. Stat section 973.015
Aug. 18, 2020 – A state appeals court has rejected a claim that adult court jurisdiction was improper in the case against Morgan Geyser, who participated in the attempted murder of a 12-year-old classmate in 2014 when Geyser was also 12 years old. The case drew national attention when Geyser and accomplice Anissa Weier repeatedly stabbed their friend in the woods of a nearby park. The victim survived the attack.  Weier, in interviews with police, said they could become “proxies” of and appease Slenderman, a fictional internet character, if they killed their classmate. Geyser told police the two had plotted…
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July 20, 2020 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled in favor of healthcare providers who challenged a Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ (DHS) Medicaid recoupment policy, restricting DHS’s ability to recoup payments for imperfect records. Medicaid provides free or low-cost healthcare for vulnerable populations, including the elderly, people with disabilities, and pregnant women. The federal government provides financial assistance to Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. DHS must reimburse providers “for medically necessary and appropriate health care services … when provided to currently eligible medical assistance recipients.” Under federal law, DHS must audit provider records, if necessary, to ensure proper payments. DHS…
July 16, 2020 –The same day the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down three of Gov. Tony Evers’ partial vetoes to the 2019-2021 budget bill, a majority ruled that a separate challenge to partial vetoes in Gov. Scott Walker’s 2017-19 budget bill is barred. In Wisconsin Small Business United, Inc. v. Brennan, 2020 69 (July 10, 2020), the majority ruled that the respondents – including Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan – met the required elements to obtain equitable relief. “We agree that laches should be applied here,” wrote Justice Brian Hagedorn, joined by Chief Justice Roggensack and Justices…
July 14, 2020 – In a per curiam opinion with four separate writings, a Wisconsin Supreme Court majority has ruled that Gov. Tony Evers violated his constitutional veto power when he partially vetoed provisions in the 2019-21 biennial budget bill. In Bartlett v. Evers, 2020 WI 68 (July 10, 2020), a majority could not agree on a rationale but a majority struck down partial vetoes relating to a school bus modernization fund (5-2), a local roads improvement fund (5-2), and a vapor products tax (4-3). Those vetoes are now invalid. On a fourth challenged veto, relating to a truck registration fee…
July 13, 2020 – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has dismissed a lawsuit against State Bar of Wisconsin officers and all seven justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a First Amendment challenge to the bar’s mandatory status. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a similar case that originated in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, leaving in place Keller v. State Bar of California, 469 U.S. 1 (1990), in which the Court upheld mandatory status/dues. The State Bar was created by the Wisconsin Supreme Court as a mandatory…