My Favorite Wisconsin Cases

Where does one start?!  I attempt to bring Wisconsin law into my classes for several reasons.  The “Diploma Privilege” permits our students to practice in this state without taking the Bar Exam.  Wisconsin courts have been pacesetters as to matters considered in the subject areas in which I teach.  I believe students should learn, as early as their first year with us, that is not improper for one to find fault with judicial and legislative reasoning, at times even in a humorous fashion, as long as due respect is shown.

The first of my favorites is considered in my Torts class.  It is Quesenberry v. Milwaukee County, 106 Wis.2d 685, 317 N.W.2d 468 (1982).  It arises in the discussion of the duties of owners and occupiers of land to those who come upon the property.  It is referenced to show how, at times, state legislatures see fit to modify common law rules.  The case dealt with a provision of the Wisconsin Statutes in effect at the time of an accident (then § 29.68) that barred recovery for injuries received while engaging in “recreational” activities on lands of another. 

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Wisconsin Supreme Court Accepts Two More Cases, Including Question of Probable Cause to Arrest for OWI

Yesterday the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted to accept two more cases this term, Zellner v. Herrick, no. 2007AP2584, and State v. Lange, 2008AP882-CR.

At issue in Zellner v. Herrick is whether the transcript of Robert Zellner’s closed arbitration proceeding is a “public record” under Wisconsin’s public records law, and if so, whether personal information must be redacted before release of that record.  Zellner is the Cedarburg School District teacher who lost his job for allegedly viewing pornography on a school computer.  The issue of whether the transcript of Zellner’s arbitration proceeding is a public record was certified to the court from the court of appeals.  At the same time as it accepted the certification, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to hear Zellner’s appeal of the court of appeals decision that affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that an arbitration panel wrongly reinstated Zellner to his position.

Does a police officer have probable cause to suspect a driver is operating a vehicle while intoxicated, when the officer observes a car driving more than 84 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone, on the wrong side of the road, shortly after bars have closed, and then hitting a utility pole and flipping over, leaving the driver unconscious? That is the question in State v. Lange, where the State appeals from the Court of Appeals decision that the police lacked probable cause.

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From Russia with Love

In my first post, I want to thank Dean O’Hear for the invitation to serve as January’s Student Blogger of the Month, as well as my predecessors for the high bar they have set for me.  It’s rare that someone willingly gives me a forum to opine on topics of my choosing, and I am glad (and honored!) to have this one. 

A little over a month ago The Economist ran a special report on corruption in Russia, including a brief note about the mounting problems within the Russian judiciary.  Although the latter article mostly contains interesting observations regarding prosecutorial abuse within the criminal justice system, I want to highlight one particular passage concerning civil litigation:

Things are not much better in corporate disputes. Large companies rarely trust in a judge’s unprompted decision. In commercial courts a judge often takes a bribe for reaching a speedy conclusion. All this helps to explain why the European Court of Human Rights is overwhelmed with Russian cases, and why large Russian companies seek justice in London. The Yukos case [described in the former link] showed that the courts have become part of the Kremlin machinery. The problem, says one Moscow lawyer, is that “the law in Russia is often trumped by money and always by high-level power.”

According to some, the same thing may be happening in the United States. 

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