Justia Wisconsin Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Health Law
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The Supreme Court held that Andrea Palm's order confining all people to their homes, forbidding travel, and closing businesses in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus (Emergency Order 28) was unenforceable because the order was a rule, and Palm did not follow statutory emergency rule making procedures established by the Legislature. On March 12, 2020, Governor Tony Evers issued Executive Order 72 proclaiming that a public health emergency existed in Wisconsin and directed DHS to take "all necessary and appropriate measures" to prevent incidents of COVID-19 in the State. On March 24, Palm, as secretary-designee of the Department of Health Services, issued Emergency Order 12 ordering Wisconsin citizens to stay at home. On April 16, Palm issued Emergency Order 28 ordering individuals to stay at home or risk punishment. The Wisconsin Legislature brought an emergency petition for original action asserting that Palm failed to follow emergency rulemaking procedures required under Wis. Stat. 227.24. The Supreme Court held (1) Emergency Order 28 is a "rule" under Wis. Stat. 227.01(13); (2) because Palm did not follow rulemaking procedures during Order 28's promulgation, there could be no criminal penalties for violations of her order; and (3) Palm's order further exceeded the statutory authority of Wis. Stat. 252.02. View "Wisconsin Legislature v. Palm" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's order extending Petitioner's involuntary commitment, holding that the evidence introduced at the recommitment hearing was insufficient to support a conclusion that Petitioner was "dangerous" pursuant to either Wis. Stat. 51.20(1)(a)2.c. or 2.d. and 51.20(1)(am). On appeal, Petitioner argued that Langlade County did not present sufficient evidence of his dangerousness to sustain an extension of his involuntary commitment. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) going forward, circuit courts in recommitment proceedings are required to make specific factual findings with reference to the subdivision paragraph of section 51.20(1)(a)2. on which the recommitment is based; and (2) the evidence in this case was insufficient to support the conclusion that Petitioner was "dangerous" under the relevant statutes. View "Langlade County v. D.J.W." on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law
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The Supreme Court held that Wis. Stat. 51.61(1)(g), which permits the involuntary medication of an incompetent but non-dangerous inmate, is facially unconstitutional for any inmate who is involuntarily committed based on determinations that he was mentally ill and in need of treatment when the inmate is involuntarily medicated based merely on a determination that the inmate is incompetent to refuse medication. At issue before the Supreme Court was the circuit court's order of extension of commitment, order for involuntary medication and treatment, and order denying C.S.'s postcommitment motion. C.S., who suffered from schizophrenia, was committed while he was an inmate. Because he was determined incompetent to refuse medication pursuant to section 51.61(1)(g) he was the subject of multiple involuntary medication court orders. C.S. was committed not based upon a determination of dangerousness but, rather, on determinations that he was mentally ill and in need of treatment. C.S. argued that section 51.61(1)(g)(3 is unconstitutional when it permits the involuntary medication of any inmate committed under Wis. Stat. 51.20(1)(ar) without a determination that the inmate is dangerous. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that incompetence to refuse medication alone is not an essential or overriding State interest and cannot justify involuntary medication. View "Winnebago County v. C.S." on Justia Law

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In this review of the court of appeals' decision affirming the circuit court's orders for involuntary commitment and involuntary medication and treatment of D.K. the Supreme Court held that there was clear and convincing evidence at a final hearing that D.K. was dangerous as defined under Wis. Stat. 51.20(1)(a)2.b. D.K. argued that he should not have been committed because Winnebago County failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he was dangerous. The circuit court concluded that the County met its burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that D.K. was mentally ill and dangerous. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the circuit court's dangerousness determination was supported by the evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) D.K.'s commitment was not a moot issue because it still subjected him to a firearms ban; and (2) there was clear and convincing evidence that D.K. was dangerous as defined under section 51.20(1)(a)2.b. View "Marathon County v. D. K." on Justia Law

Posted in: Health 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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals granting Waukesha County's motion to dismiss the appeal brought by Ms. L. challenging the circuit court's judgment extending Ms. L's commitment, holding that all three issues brought by Ms. L. on appeal were moot but that the Court would address two of those three issues. Specifically, the Court held (1) the circuit court still had personal jurisdiction over Ms. L. when it conducted the extension hearing and entered the extension order, and the County's notice did not fail any due process requirements; (2) the circuit court properly entered default against Ms. L. for failing to appear at an extension hearing; and (3) Ms. L.'s issue that there was insufficient evidence to support the circuit court's entry of the extension order was moot. View "Waukesha County v. S.L.L." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals dismissing J.W.K.'s appeal challenging the sufficiency of the evidence extending his commitment, holding that J.W.K.'s sufficiency challenge was moot. J.W.K. was originally committed in February 2016 for six months under Wis. Stat. 51.20. In July 2016, Portage County filed a petition seeking to extend J.W.K.'s commitment for twelve months. The circuit court found the statutory dangerousness standard was satisfied and extended J.W.K.'s commitment for twelve months. J.W.K. filed a notice of appeal. Thereafter, in 2017, the County filed a petition seeking another twelve-month extension of J.W.K.'s commitment, which the circuit court granted. The court of appeals dismissed J.W.K.'s appeal as moot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that reversing the expired 2016 order for insufficient evidence would have no effect on subsequent recommitment orders because later orders stand on their own under the language of section 51.20. View "Portage County v. J.W.K." on Justia Law

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Mr. J. was a proper subject of treatment within the meaning of Wis. Stat. 51.20(1) because he had rehabilitative potential. Mr. J., an adult suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, was subject to an involuntary commitment order and an order requiring him to undergo treatment and take medication prescribed for his condition. Waukesha County filed a petition to extend Mr. J’s involuntary commitment and treatment orders for an additional year. The circuit court granted the County’s petition and extended Mr. J’s involuntary commitment order for twelve months and further extended the medication and treatment order. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court and the court of appeals properly concluded that Mr. J. was a proper subject of treatment within the meaning of the statute. View "Waukesha County v. J.W.J." on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law
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The Supreme Court held that an attorney authorized by his or her client in writing via a HIPAA release form to obtain the client’s health care records is a “person authorized by the patient” under Wis. Stat. 146.83(3f)(b)4.-5. and is therefore exempt from paying certification charges and retrieval fees under these subdivisions. Accordingly, the Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals in this class action lawsuit, holding that Plaintiff’s attorney was a “person authorized by the patient” and was therefore exempt from the certification charge and retrieval fee for obtaining copies of Plaintiff’s health care records. View "Moya v. Healthport Technologies, LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellant was adjudicated delinquent or convicted of sexually violent offenses three times, resulting in his incarceration. Before Talley was released on his last offense, the State filed a petition for Chapter 980 commitment. In 2005, the circuit court ordered Talley committed to the Department of Health and Family Services. In 2012, Talley filed the discharge petition underlying the Court’s current review. The circuit court denied Talley’s petition seeking a discharge hearing. The court of appeals affirmed. Talley appealed, arguing that his petition alleged enough facts to warrant a discharge hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Talley’s petition for a discharge failed to satisfy the statutory threshold for a discharge hearing, and therefore, the circuit court appropriately denied Appellant’s 2012 petition without holding a discharge hearing. View "State v. Talley" on Justia Law