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The Supreme Court held that the judicial misconduct of the Honorable Leonard D. Kachinsky, a former municipal judge for the Village of Fox Crossing Municipal Court, warranted a three-year suspension of eligibility for the position of reserve municipal judge and ordered that Kachinsky petition to the Supreme Court and successfully demonstrate that he is fit to serve as a reserve municipal judge before he may request an appointment to serve as a reserve municipal judge. The Judicial Commission filed a formal complaint against Judge Kachinsky alleging multiple violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct in his interactions with M.B. Following an evidentiary hearing, a panel of the court of appeals issued its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation regarding discipline. The Supreme Court agreed with the Judicial Conduct Panel that, in light of the fact that Judge Kachinsky is no longer an active municipal court judge, an appropriate form of discipline for his misconduct is to suspend his eligibility to serve as a reserve municipal judge. The Court then imposed its sentence, holding that Judge Kachinsky currently lacked the judicial temperament and insight into his actions that are required for a judge to preside over and manage a court. View "Wisconsin Judicial Commission v. Kachinsky" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's judgment granting Defendant's motion to suppress a test of Defendant's blood sample, holding that the State lawfully obtained the blood sample. A police officer arrested Defendant for driving under the influence. Defendant gave the officer permission to take a sample of her blood to determine its alcohol concentration. Before the sample was tested, however, Defendant revoked her consent and demanded the immediate return or destruction of her blood sample. Defendant's blood sample was nevertheless tested. The circuit court granted Defendant's motion to suppress, concluding that Defendant's revocation of consent made the test unconstitutional. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the State performed only one search in this case when it obtained a sample of Defendant's blood, and that search ended when the State completed the blood draw; (2) a defendant arrested for intoxicated driving has o privacy interest in the amount of alcohol in that sample; and (3) therefore, the State did not perform a search on Defendant's blood sample when it tested the sample for the presence of alcohol, and as a result, Defendant's consent to the test was not necessary. View "State v. Randall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the court of appeals dismissing the appeal of an order of the circuit court denying a request to compel arbitration and stay a pending lawsuit pending arbitration, holding that a circuit court order denying a request to compel arbitration and stay a pending lawsuit is final for the purposes of appeal. Respondent, a mentally disabled resident of Appellant, which owned and operated residential facilities, brought this lawsuit over an incident in which one of Appellant's employees sexually assaulted her. Respondent, however, had signed an arbitration agreement with Appellant, and Appellant filed a motion to compel arbitration and stay the proceedings pending the arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion, and Appellant appealed. Respondent moved to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the order was not a final and appealable order. The court of appeals granted the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) an application to stay pursuant to Wis. Stat. 788.02 is a special proceeding within the meaning of Wis. Stat. 808.03(1); and (2) a circuit court order that disposes of the entire matter in litigation between one or more parties in a section 788.02 special proceeding is final for the purposes of appeal. View "L. G. v. Aurora Residential Alternatives, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court striking two insurance conditions from a conditional use permit (CUP) Dane County issued to Enbridge Energy Company as unenforceable under 2015 Wisconsin Act 55, holding that because Enbridge carried the requisite insurance, Act 55 rendered Dane County's extra insurance conditions unenforceable. The two conditions at issue required Enbridge to procure additional insurance prior to Enbridge expanding its pipeline pump station. Dane County approved the CUP with these insurance conditions. Thereafter, the Wisconsin Legislature passed Act 55, which prohibits counties from requiring an interstate pipeline operator to obtain additional insurance when the pipeline operating company carries comprehensive general liability insurance with coverage for "sudden and accidental" pollution liability. Dane County issued the CUP with the invalid insurance conditions. The circuit court struck the two conditions from the CUP as unenforceable under Act 55. The court of appeals reversed on the ground that Enbridge failed to show it carried the requisite coverage triggering the statutory prohibition barring the County from imposing additional insurance procurement requirements. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Enbridge carried the requisite insurance, and therefore, Dane County's extra insurance conditions were unenforceable. View "Enbridge Energy Co. v. Dane County" on Justia Law

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In this original action brought by Plaintiffs, two licensed teachers and two school board members, against the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) arguing that, prior to drafting or promulgating an administrative rule, the SPI and DPI must receive written approval from the governor as required by statute, holding that the gubernatorial approval requirement for rulemaking is constitutional as applied to the SPI and DPI. The SPI and DPI argued that the statutory requirement of gubernatorial approval was unconstitutional as applied because, pursuant to Wis. Const. art. X, 1, no other officer may be placed in a position equal or superior to that of the SPI with regard to the supervision of public instruction. The Supreme Court held that it was of no constitutional concern that the governor is given equal or greater legislative authority than the SPI in rulemaking because when the SPI, through the DPI, promulgates rules, it is exercising legislative power that comes not from the constitution from from the legislature. View "Koschkee v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the circuit court declaring the Wisconsin Legislature's December 2018 extraordinary session unconstitutional, enjoining enforcement of all legislation passed during the session, and vacating eighty-two appointments during the session, holding that extraordinary sessions do not violate the Wisconsin Constitution. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin brought this suit arguing that the extraordinary session was unconstitutional. The circuit court agreed and issued a temporary injunction enjoining the enforcement of the three Acts passed during the session and vacating all eighty-two appointments. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court's order, holding that the extraordinary session was constitutional and that the circuit court invaded the province of the Legislature in declaring the session unconstitutional, enjoining enforcement of the Acts, and vacating the 82 appointments. The Court remanded the matter to the circuit court with directions to dismiss the League's complaint. View "League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Evers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea, holding that the disciplining of Defendant's attorney for professional misconduct that included his handling of Defendant's defense did not prove that counsel had provided ineffective assistance. Defendant pleaded guilty to a single count of armed robbery as a party to a crime. Before sentencing, Defendant asked to withdraw his plea due to ineffective assistance of counsel. The circuit court denied the motion. While Defendant's appeal was pending, the Supreme Court decided a disciplinary case brought against Defendant's counsel and disciplined the attorney for professional misconduct. On appeal, Defendant argued that his attorney's discipline for his misconduct in handling Defendant's defense is proof to establish the deficiency of his counsel. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the record did not demonstrate that the professional misconduct of Defendant's attorney prevented Defendant from receiving effective assistance of counsel, and therefore, the circuit court did not erroneously exercise its discretion in denying Defendant's motion. View "State v. Cooper" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's grant of summary judgment dismissing Plaintiff's claims against the Village of Stetsonville for negligence and private nuisance after wastewater backed up into Plaintiff's basement, holding that the Village was immune from suit for negligence and that, as to Plaintiff's private nuisance claim, no genuine issue of material fact existed as to causation. Specifically, the Court held (1) the court of appeals did not err in determining that the Village was immune from suit for negligence pursuant to Wis. Stat. 893.80(4); and (2) under the facts of this case, the court of appeals did not err in affirming the grant of summary judgment on the private nuisance claim on the grounds that Plaintiff did not present expert testimony with regard to causation. View "Pinter v. Village of Stetsonville" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment dismissing Rural Mutual Insurance Company's subrogation claims pursuant to a subrogation waiver, holding that the subrogation waiver was valid and enforceable. Rural Mutual brought this action against Lester Buildings, LLC, Phoenix Insurance Company, Van Wyks, Inc., and West Bend Mutual Insurance Company after a barn collapsed due to strong winds and Rural Mutual paid more than $650,000 to the barn owner, Jim Herman, Inc. (Herman). The circuit court concluded that the claims were barred pursuant to a subrogation waiver contained in Lester Buildings' contract with Herman, Rural Mutual's insured, and further concluded that Wis. Stat. 895.447 did not void that subrogation waiver. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 895.447 did not void the subrogation waiver in the contract because the waiver did not limit or eliminate tort liability; and (2) the subrogation waiver was not an unenforceable exculpatory contract contrary to public policy. View "Rural Mutual Insurance Co. v. Lester Buildings, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals denying Defendant's petition for a supervisory writ in which Defendant argued that an automatic stay in his case began upon the circuit court's entry of a involuntary medication order rather than upon filing a notice of appeal but vacated the circuit court's order for involuntary medication, holding that the order was constitutionally insufficient. The circuit court ordered Defendant to be involuntarily medicated to restore his competency to stand trial on a felony charge. After the Supreme Court released its decision in State v. Scott, 914 N.W.2d 141 (Wis. 2018), subjecting involuntary medication orders to an automatic stay pending appeal, the circuit court stayed its involuntary medication order. Defendant petitioned the court of appeals for a supervisory writ and challenged the constitutionality of Wis. Stat. 971.14 based on its incompatibility with Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166 (2003). The Supreme Court held (1) the court of appeals did not err in denying Defendant's petition for a supervisory writ; and (2) the standard for ordering involuntary medication set forth in section 971.14(3)(dm) and (4)(b) is unconstitutional to the extent it requires circuit courts to order involuntary medication based on a standard that does not comport with Sell. View "State v. Fitzgerald" on Justia Law