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  • August 17, 2022

    Judicial Council Update: Improving Appellate Rules and Procedures, Educating Lawyers and Judges on Appellate eFiling

    A nontrivial number of attorneys are failing to take the necessary steps to “opt in” to the mandatory court of appeals eFiling system. This issue and others are addressed by the Judicial Council’s Appellate Practice Committee through proposed rules and outreach to the bar.

    Hon. Thomas M. Hruz & Christina Plum

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    Aug. 17, 2022 – One of the Wisconsin Judicial Council’s three regular committees is the Appellate Procedure Committee.1

    The authors of this column serve as the Committee’s chairperson and secretary, respectively. Here, we briefly explain the work the Committee performs and provide updates on mandatory eFiling in the court of appeals, which took effect in July 2021.

    About the Judicial Council’s Appellate Procedure Committee (“APC”)

    The APC has a long history of drafting, monitoring, analyzing and improving appellate rules and procedures. These projects go back decades, including the historic creation of an intermediate court of appeals in 1978 and the recent establishment of procedures in appellate proceedings for pro hac vice admission and substitution and withdrawal of retained counsel, which the supreme court adopted with minor revisions.2

    Thomas HruzJudge Thomas Hruz, Marquette 2002, has served on the Judicial Council, including as Chairperson of the Appellate Procedure Committee, since February 2020. He has served as a judge in District 3 of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals since September 2014, prior to which he was in private practice, focusing on appeals.

    Christina PlumChristina Plum, UW 1995, serves as the Chief Staff Attorney of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and Secretary of the Judicial Council’s Appellate Procedure Committee. Previously, she served as a staff attorney for the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in Districts I and II, and as a judicial law clerk in Districts I and III.

    Presently, the APC is developing much-needed proposed rules for appeals of competency proceedings under Wis. Stat. section 971.14.

    Currently, there are four members of the Judicial Council general body serving on the APC (Chair Judge Tom Hruz, Sarah Barber of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, Molly McNab of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and attorney Nick Zales), as well as four ad hoc, non-Judicial Council members (Chief Staff Attorney Christina Plum, Katie York of the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office, Clerk of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Sheila Reiff, and Karla Keckhaver of the Wisconsin Department of Justice).

    We encourage readers to contact any of these APC members with questions, concerns or suggestions regarding Wisconsin’s appellate rules and procedures.

    To that end, the APC actively works with “shareholders” in the Wisconsin appellate court community – including supreme court justices and court of appeals judges; supreme court commissioners, court of appeals staff attorneys, and law clerks in all appellate courts; the State Bar of Wisconsin's Appellate Practice Section; the Director of State Courts, currently Judge Randy Koschnick; the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the Wisconsin Public Defender’s Office, and other attorneys frequently involved in Wisconsin appeals.

    Sometimes, our projects lead us to file a petition with the supreme court or legislature, and we draw from relevant members of our shareholders to serve on specific ad hoc committees. For example, regarding our project on the rules for appeals of competency proceedings, we have an ad hoc committee comprised of experts on the subject from the State Public Defender’s office, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health Services.

    Shepherding through Issues with the Transition to Appellate eFiling

    In addition to our own initiatives, the APC endeavors to educate and inform judges and lawyers on issues that frequently arise regarding appellate rules and procedures.

    Presently, the APC is actively monitoring and addressing issues related to mandatory eFiling in the court of appeals, which began on July 1, 2021.3

    In the June 2021 issue of Wisconsin Lawyer, Clerk Sheila Reiff and attorney Marcia Vandercook wrote a primer on all things attorneys involved in any state appeal should know about the new eFiling rules and systems.4 Rather than repeat the helpful information in that article, we commend it to your attention.

    Still, one problem that remains is a nontrivial number of attorneys are failing to take the necessary steps to “opt in” to the court of appeals eFiling system, which is separate from the circuit court eFiling system.5

    Pursuant to Wis. Stat. Rule 809.801, participation in the court of appeals eFiling system is mandatory for attorneys representing parties on appeal. When an appeal is filed, the notice of the opening of the appeal directs all attorneys to opt in, but many delay doing so. This is problematic because service of documents on attorneys is accomplished through the eFiling system.

    In May 2022, the court began including language in its interim orders that directs specific attorneys who have not yet opted in to do so. It is hoped that education efforts will increase the number of attorneys who immediately opt in to eFiling when an appeal is opened. Again, anyone with questions about the APC is encouraged to contact any of its members.


    1 The other two regular Judicial Council committees are the Evidence and Civil Procedure Committee and the Criminal Procedure Committee.

    2 In re Proposed Amendment of Wisconsin Statute § 809.85, Relating to Pro Hac Vice Admission, Substitution, and Withdrawal of Retained Counsel in Appellate Court Proceedings, 2021 WI 25 (March 9, 2021),

    3 In re Interim Court Rule Governing Electronic Filing in the Supreme Court, 2021 WI 62 (June 15, 2021),

    4 Shelia Reiff & Marcia Vandercook, Technology: What You Need to Know: Mandatory Appellate Court eFiling Begins July 1, 94 Wis. Law. 45-49 (June 2021),

    5 For information on the appellate court electronic filing system, including instructions on opting in for individual cases, visit

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