The 2019-20 Fantasy League Season Preview

During the Fantasy League’s winter meeting this past week, a single question predominated at sessions chaired by the league’s Competition Committee: What can be done to challenge the Gavels of the State Public Defender’s Office? League champions ever since the inaugural 2015-16 season, the Gavels have shrugged off every effort by the Competition Committee to provide them with more formidable opposition. Consequently, for 2019-20, the league has allowed—in fact, required—each of the Gavels’ four rivals to add another law firm to their rosters.

Commentators have been impressed by the alacrity with which the four teams—the Affirmed, the Citations, the Waivers, and the Writs—jumped at this opportunity, suggesting that their combative spirit has not been crushed by four years as also-rans. Indeed, the wooing of new firms soon escalated to a frenzy, with Husch Blackwell the most coveted prize. Having delivered four oral arguments in cases decided during the 2018-19 term, Husch Blackwell would have made any team an instant contender that season, and thus Husch received lavish offers from all four suitors. In the end, the Waivers were the most seductive, and the addition of Husch Blackwell to their lineup accounts for the enthusiasm with which their fans are greeting the onset of the 2019-20 season.[Continue Reading…]

Wisconsin Supreme Court Statistics, 1971-72

These tables are derived from information contained in 292 Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions that were turned up in a Nexis Uni search for decisions filed between September 1, 1971, and August 31, 1972.  The total of 292 decisions does not include rulings arising from (1) disciplinary matters involving lawyers, and (2) various short orders pertaining to petitions, motions, applications and the like (generally disposed of with per curiam decisions).

The tables are available as a complete set and by individual topic in the subsets listed below.

Four-to-Three Decisions
Decisions Arranged by Vote Split
Frequency of Justices in the Majority
Distribution of Opinion Authorship
Frequency of Agreement Between Pairs of Justices
Average Time Between Oral Argument and Opinions Authored by Each Justice

Discoveries About Lavinia Goodell, Wisconsin’s First Woman Lawyer

I enthusiastically recommend a new website and blog about the life and times of Lavinia Goodell—Wisconsin’s first woman lawyer and the first woman to be admitted to practice at the Wisconsin Supreme Court (over the Chief Justice’s heated objections). Not only a pioneer in the legal profession, she was active in many other causes, including jail reform, temperance, and women’s suffrage before her death in 1880.              

The creators of this site—appellate attorney Colleen Ball and Wisconsin Supreme Court Commissioner Nancy Kopp—are mining a wealth of primary sources, many previously untapped, and they have already begun to present their findings serially in blog format. If you would like to see the revelations recently posted, and subscribe for alerts to forthcoming posts, visitLavinia Goodell: The private life and public trials of Wisconsin’s first woman lawyer.”

Fifth Amendment Cases, 2004-05 through 2018-19

The Fifth Amendment provides some of the best-known protections promised to Americans by the US Constitution. It prohibits (1) prosecution for serious crimes without a prior, legal indictment by a grand jury; (2) repeated prosecution for the same offense (“double jeopardy”); (3) involuntary self-incrimination—being forced to testify or give evidence against one’s self; and (4) deprivation of life, liberty, or property without “due process of law” or “just compensation.” SCOWstats has previously examined the fate of other constitutional principles at the Wisconsin Supreme Court; today we turn our attention to the Fifth Amendment.[Continue Reading…]

Wisconsin Supreme Court Statistics, 1972-73

These tables are derived from information contained in 339 Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions that were turned up in a Nexis Uni search for decisions filed between September 1, 1972, and August 31, 1973.  The total of 339 decisions does not include rulings arising from (1) disciplinary matters involving lawyers, and (2) various short orders pertaining to petitions, motions, and the like. Also omitted is the 3-3 per curiam decision in State v. White.

The tables are available as a complete set and by individual topic in the subsets listed below.

Four-to-Three Decisions
Decisions Arranged by Vote Split
Frequency of Justices in the Majority
Distribution of Opinion Authorship
Frequency of Agreement Between Pairs of Justices
Average Time Between Oral Argument and Opinions Authored by Each Justice

A Sixth Amendment Update for 2017-18 and 2018-19

Sixth Amendment cases address a defendant’s right to a fair trial—specifically, the right to (1) have a prompt and public trial, with an impartial jury, (2) know the nature of the charges and the identity of one’s accuser, (3) confront adverse witnesses, (4) testify and present witnesses on one’s behalf, and (5) have a competent lawyer.[1] A number of these cases reach the supreme court every term, just as often as those involving the Fourth Amendment, and thus they merit periodic monitoring to determine what has changed (and what has not) in the justices’ voting.[2][Continue Reading…]

Wisconsin Supreme Court Statistics, 1973-74

These tables are derived from information contained in 316 Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions that were turned up in a Nexis Uni search for decisions filed between September 1, 1973, and August 31, 1974.  The total of 316 decisions does not include rulings arising from (1) disciplinary matters involving lawyers, and (2) various short orders pertaining to petitions, motions, and the like.  

The tables are available as a complete set and by individual topic in the subsets listed below.

Four-to-Three Decisions
Decisions Arranged by Vote Split
Frequency of Justices in the Majority
Distribution of Opinion Authorship
Frequency of Agreement Between Pairs of Justices
Average Time Between Oral Argument and Opinions Authored by Each Justice

“Women and the Wisconsin Supreme Court”: An Update through 2018-19

The most recent post in this series showed that, although women conducted a rapidly increasing share of oral arguments at the supreme court from 1981-82 (10%) through 2014-15 (33%), the acceleration did not continue during the next two terms—and, indeed, the rate dropped back below 30%. Now that two more terms have passed, we’ll revisit the topic to discover what transpired in 2017-18 and 2018-19.[Continue Reading…]

Public Defender Outcomes Compared to the “Field”: An Update for 2014-15 through 2018-19

Five years have passed since we measured the results obtained by public defenders against the achievements of other attorneys in criminal and indigent-defense cases, so we are more than due for an update.[Continue Reading…]

An Update on Fourth-Amendment Cases: 2017-18 and 2018-19

Two terms have passed since our last Fourth-Amendment update, and significant developments have transpired in the interim. For one thing, Justices Rebecca Bradley and Daniel Kelly have now been on the court long enough (four terms and three terms, respectively) to yield a substantial quantity of votes on Fourth-Amendment cases. We have also gotten our first glimpse of Justice Rebecca Dallet’s stance, though only general and preliminary conclusions are possible so early in her tenure. Other topics beckon as well, and we’ll begin with an overview of the number of Fourth-Amendment cases decided each term.[Continue Reading…]