Constitutional Law

Top Wis. Court 'Suggestion' to Appellate Judges: Hold Hearing Before Sanctioning Lawyer re Briefs

Lawyers in Wisconsin who have been complaining that appellate courts shouldn’t be summarily sanctioning them over their briefs have a point, the state’s top court indicated in a ruling today.

However, the supreme court’s opinion (PDF) called it a “suggestion” that appellate judges issue a separate order requiring a lawyer either to show cause why he or she should not be sanctioned for alleged violations of briefing rules, including certifications that they have been satisfied, or comply with the sanction meted out in the order.

The case arose after the public defender’s office took issue with an opinion saying that an assistant public defender had filed a “false” certification. In fact, the office contended, he had simply had a different, good-faith view about what needed to be included in an appendix.

The top court also urges both sides to recognize that they are not adversaries and praises the court of appeals for recent efforts to resolve the situation cooperatively.

“The court of appeals and counsel share the common goal that justice be administered fairly and efficiently in the state of Wisconsin,” the opinion notes. “They agree that counsel should be treated fairly and that the time and energy of the court of appeals must be conserved.”

Hat tip: Proof & Hearsay (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

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