Vol. 77, No. 8, August
Letters to the editor: The Wisconsin Lawyer
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Remembering Steve Sobota, Dean of Worker's Comp
I learned with dismay of the untimely death of Assistant Attorney
General Stephen Sobota. Steve was the unchallenged dean of worker's
At the annual worker's compensation seminar, Steve would always lead
off with a discussion, interpretation, and analysis of recent worker's
compensation decisions. He would sometimes predict the course of cases
going from the court of appeals to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and was
almost always correct.
I worked with Steve on numerous occasions inasmuch as he represented
the state in most worker's compensation appeals from the Labor and
Industry Review Commission. I have practiced law for 55 years and have
never known or dealt with a kindlier, brighter, more thoughtful, or
sensitive person than Steve.
On a personal note, for a period of time I was requested by
Martindale-Hubbell to rate attorneys involved in worker's compensation.
Ironically, I received a rating request for Steve, even though he
probably had forgotten more worker's compensation law than I had ever
known. I gave him the highest rating and sent him a courtesy copy.
Shortly thereafter I received a note from him stating, "Great praise
from Mighty Caesar." The irony, of course, is that he was the Mighty
Caesar of worker's compensation and not I.
Those who worked with Steve and knew him will miss him very much.
Leonard S. Zubrensky
A Court's Rationale Says Much About Its Holding
It is always a stimulating pleasure to read Daniel W. Hildebrand's
summaries of recent cases (see "2003 Significant Court Decisions," June
2004). However, we don't always get the distinction between a court's
holding and the rationale for its decision, even in those cases when the
court, as in State v. Cole, engages in obiter dicta to support
its ruling. Article I, section 25 of the Wisconsin Constitution
specifies: "The people have the right to keep and bear arms for
security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful
purpose." [Emphasis supplied.]
The only thing "absolute" about the provision is its reinforcement of
the article IX, section 3 protection of several property in the
definition of "people." Like Illinois, Wisconsin does not have a blanket
protection such as exists in the U.S. Constitution. This leaves room for
the exercise of police power, particularly when tied to suspicious
activity like the apparent illegal possession of a controlled substance.
Of course, "cruising," as discussed in Brandmiller, is hardly a
fundamental much less absolute right, particularly in light of the
underlying license that constitutes an exception to an otherwise basic
if not fundamental right of travel, though the tougher the scrutiny the
more freedom of movement, something that shouldn't be overlooked if only
in acknowledgement that unchecked restraints on movement, like those on
otherwise legal possession of a firearm, are characteristics of
totalitarian regimes and not necessarily indicative of judicial prudence
or good order, though the restraints go to an "order."
The law is intended not merely for restraint, but to encourage the
broadest exercise of rights, if only because, through their practice,
responsible self-governance is promoted. Article XXII. The implication
of a "right" is that it serves more than a lawful purpose per se,
therefore triggering the respect that is due and its utmost
We must be careful not to disparage or devalue the honor and virtue
that goes with a right by restricting its promotion and exercise, and
therefrom a fear of prospective irresponsible and harmful use.
Gordon D. Payne
Villa Park, Ill.