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The term “processing” in Wis. Stat. 77.52(2)(a)11. includes the separation of river segment into its component parts. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue imposed a tax on Petitioners pursuant to section 77.52(2)(a)11. for the “processing” of river sediments into reusable sand, waste sludge, and water. The Wisconsin Tax Appeals Commission upheld the Department’s determination. Petitioners filed a petition for judicial review, arguing that the term “processing” is not expansive enough to cover the separation of river sediment into its component parts. The circuit court and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioners were liable for the sales and use tax imposed by section 77.52(2); and (2) although the Court has decided to end the practice of deferring to administrative agencies’ conclusions of law, pursuant to Wis. Stat. 227.57(10), the Court will give “due weight” to the experience, technical competence, and specialized knowledge of an administrative agency as it considers its arguments. View "Tetra Tech EC, Inc. v. Wisconsin Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over unemployment compensation benefits, the Supreme Court held that the plain language of Wis. Stat. 108.04(5)(e) allows an employer to adopt its own absenteeism policy that differs from the policy set forth in the statute. Further, termination for the violation of the employer’s absenteeism policy will result in disqualification from receiving unemployment compensation benefits even if the employer’s absenteeism policy is more restrictive than the policy set forth in section 108.04(5)(e). Employee was denied unemployment compensation on the ground that she was terminated for “misconduct” - namely, absenteeism, as defined by section 108.04(5)9e). The circuit court concluded that an employer’s violation of the employer’s absenteeism rules constitutes “misconduct” under section 108.04(5)(e) barring unemployment compensation benefits. The court of appeals disagreed, holding that an employee who is terminated for violating an employer’s absenteeism rules is not barred from obtaining unemployment benefits unless the employee’s conduct violates the statutory definition of misconduct based on absenteeism. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Employee was properly denied benefits under the circumstances of this case. View "Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development v. Wisconsin Labor & Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law

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The Labor and Industry Review Commission’s version of the “inference method” of finding discriminatory intent is inconsistent with Wis. Stat. 111.322(1) because it excuses the employee from his burden of proving discriminatory intent. Employee argued that Employer intentionally discriminated against him when it terminated his employment because of his disability. LIRC agreed and concluded that Employer violated the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA). The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) LIRC’s version of the “inference method” impermissibly allows imposition of WFEA liability without proof of discriminatory intent, which is inconsistent with the requirements of section 11.322(1); and (2) the record lacked substantial evidence that Employer terminated Employee’s employment because of his disability. View "Wisconsin Bell, Inc. v. Labor & Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant’s conviction of homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon and denying Defendant’s postconviction motions. Post-conviction, Defendant filed two motions challenging the sufficiency of the evidence and the jury instructions relating to Defendant’s defenses of accident and self-defense. The circuit court denied the motions. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the jury instructions, taken as a whole, accurately stated the law, and therefore, there was no basis for Defendant’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel and no due process violation; and (2) there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict. View "State v. Langlois" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court ordering Defendant to be involuntarily medicated to competency for purposes of participating in postconviction proceedings. Several years after being convicted of several crimes, Defendant sought to pursue postconviction relief. Defendant’s counsel asked for a competency evaluation. After a competency evaluation, the circuit court found that Defendant was not competent to proceed with his postconviction motion for relief and was not competent to refuse medication and treatment. The court then ordered Defendant to be involuntarily medicated to competency for purposes of participating in postconviction proceedings. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the circuit court did not follow the mandatory procedure set forth in State v. Debra A.E., 523 N.W.2d 727 (Wis. 1994), the involuntary medication order was issued prematurely and was invalid. View "State v. Scott" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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A right to visibility of private property from a public road is not a cognizable right giving rise to a protected property interest. Adams Outdoor Advertising Limited Partnership brought a takings claim against the City of Madison, asserting that its property was taken when the City constructed a pedestrian bridge over the Beltline Highway that blocked the visibility from the highway of the west-facing side of Adams’ billboard. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the City, concluding that Adams failed to demonstrate a cognizable right underlying its asserted protected property interest. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Adams argued that a taking occurred because the City deprived it of all economically beneficial use of the west-facing side of its billboard. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Adams’ taking claim failed. View "Adams Outdoor Advertising Limited Partnership v. City of Madison" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reinstating Defendant’s conviction for sexually assaulting a young girl after the circuit court set the conviction aside on the grounds that Defendant received constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court held (1) the court of appeals properly conducted the analysis required under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), and found that Defendant’s counsel performed as required by the Constitution; (2) expert testimony at a Machner hearing regarding the reasonableness of trial counsel’s performance is not admissible; and (3) the circuit court did not improperly rely on Defendant’s lack of remorse when it fashioned his sentence. View "State v. Pico" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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2013 Wis. Act 20 (Act 20) eliminated a circuit court’s discretion to waive imposition of the $250 DNA analysis surcharge for felony convictions. Before the legislature adopted Act 20, the relevant statute said that the court “may” impose the $250 DNA surcharge on a defendant convicted of a felony. Act 20 changed the language of the statue, saying that the court “shall” impose the surcharge. Defendant in this case filed a postconviction motion requesting vacation of the DNA surcharge. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that “shall” as used in Wis. Stat. 973.046(1r) is mandatory, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to remove the DNA surcharge from his judgment of conviction. View "State v. Cox" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court ordered that the Honorable Frank M. Calvert be suspended from the office of circuit court commissioner without compensation and prohibited from exercising any of the powers or duties of a circuit court commission in Wisconsin for a period of fifteen days due to Commissioner Calvert’s judicial misconduct. The Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed a complaint against Commissioner Calvert alleged that he had engaged in judicial misconduct in presiding over an action seeking a harassment injunction. The Judicial Conduct Panel made conclusions of law and recommended that the Supreme Court suspend Commissioner Calvert for no more than fifteen days. The Supreme Court adopted the panel’s undisputed findings and conclusions of law and agreed that a fifteen-day suspension was in order. View "Wisconsin Judicial Commission v. Honorable Frank M. Calvert" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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In this case arising out of the approval of a redevelopment project in the City of Eau Claire, which relied in part on funds derived from two tax incremental districts (TIDs), the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the decision of the court of appeals. Plaintiffs, Voters with Facts, et al., challenged the legality of the City’s actions with regard to the TIDs. Plaintiffs sought declaratory relief on their claims and argued, in the alternative, that under certiorari review the City had acted outside the scope of its lawful authority. The circuit court dismissed the case, concluding that Plaintiffs lacked standing. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ complaint as to declaratory judgment, agreeing that Plaintiffs lacked standing. But the court reversed and remanded for certiorari review because the circuit court had not directly addressed that claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that certiorari review was appropriate because it is the proper mechanism for a court to test the validity of a legislative determination. Because the record was insufficient to enable this Court’s review, a remand to the circuit court for certiorari review of Plaintiffs’ first and second claims was required. View "Voters with Facts v. City of Eau Claire" on Justia Law