March 8, 2016 – A group challenging a rule that prohibits people from traveling on city buses with weapons, even concealed guns carried legally, will have its case heard by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which recently added eight new cases to its docket.
Wisconsin Carry Inc., a gun rights advocacy group, challenged the “bus rule” established by the City of Madison’s Transit and Parking Commission. The bus rule prohibits weapons on buses. Wisconsin Carry says the rule is preempted by state law.
Wis. Stat section 66.0409(2) prohibits “political subdivisions” from regulating knives or firearms, including possession, through resolutions or ordinances “unless the ordinance or resolution is the same as or similar to, and no more stringent than, a state statute.”
In 2011, a “concealed carry” law was enacted in Wisconsin. It allows Wisconsin citizens to carry concealed weapons in public if they obtain a concealed carry license. Thus, Wisconsin Carry says the “concealed carry” law trumps the bus rule.
A state appeals court, however, ruled in favor of the City of Madison, which had argued that the bus rule is not an ordinance or a resolution and the Transit and Parking Commission is not a political subdivision. The decision affirmed a circuit court ruling.
Now the Wisconsin Supreme Court will decide. A decision will clarify whether the state’s concealed carry law trumps a local bus rule that bans weapons on city buses. The case is Wisconsin Carry Inc. v. City of Madison, 2015AP146.
The supreme court also accepted review of seven other cases involving remedies for a misinformed plea deal, an open records request, search and seizure law, caveat emptor, ineffective assistance of counsel, judgment interest, and tax assessments.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin v. Wis. Dept. of Justice (open records)
Before the 2014 elections, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin made an open records request for training videos featuring then-Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel, now the state’s attorney general who was running for the post at the time.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice denied the request. It cited victim privacy and litigation strategy concerns about the training videos, which covered strategies for interacting with sensitive crime victims and prosecuting Internet sexual predator cases.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin sought a writ of mandamus to compel release. The circuit court granted the request but stayed release pending appeal. The court of appeals affirmed. The supreme court will now examine the issues presented.
State v. Finley (misinformed before entering plea)
This case will examine the remedies that may be available to a criminal defendant who pleads no contest after being misinformed about the maximum penalty that could apply.
Timothy Finley thought the maximum imprisonment penalty for his crime was 19 years. In fact, the maximum penalty was 23 years. He pleaded no contest. The state recommended 15 years imprisonment. But the court gave him the maximum, 23 years.
Finley filed a post-conviction motion to withdraw his plea, arguing that he was misinformed about the maximum penalties. In the alternative, he asked the court to reduce his sentence to 19 years, since he was told that was the maximum.
The supreme court may decide whether reducing a sentence is an appropriate remedy under these circumstances, or if the defendant can withdraw the plea.
State v. Weber (OWI, search and seizure)
This case examines whether “hot pursuit” on its own can justify a warrantless search. An officer had activated the squad car’s emergency lights to stop Richard Weber for a defective brake light. A few seconds later, Weber pulled into his garage at home.
The officer walked into the garage and stopped Weber from entering the house. The officer then arrested him for drunk driving. Weber moved to suppress, arguing that police entered his garage in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Weber argues the officer’s “hot pursuit” of Weber into the garage did not qualify as an exigent circumstance and thus no exception applied to the warrant requirement.
State v. Maday Jr. (failure to object)
Stanley Maday Jr. was convicted for sexual assault of a child. A social worker testified at trial. The prosecutor asked whether there was any indication that the victim was not being honest when the social worker interviewed her, and the social worker said no.
Maday Jr. appealed on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. He said his defense lawyer should have objected to the social worker’s testimony, arguing the social worker was not qualified to testify on whether the child was telling the truth.
Lands’ End Inc. v. City of Dodgeville (judgment interest rate)
In 2013, Lands’ End obtained a judgment for about $724,000 against the City of Dodgeville in litigation over tax assessments. Lands’ End sought interest on the judgment at the rate of 12 percent. In 2011, though, interest rates changed.
The Wisconsin Legislature enacted a law changing the interest rate on judgments to one percent plus the prime rate in effect at the applicable time. The city says this rate applies, because the law was in effect when the judgment was entered.
Lands’ End says the 12 percent rate applies because that was the rate in effect when an offer of settlement was made. The city wants the supreme court to overturn a 2015 case, in which the appeals court used the settlement offer date to determine interest.
Regency West Apartments LLC v. City of Racine (tax assessments)
In this case, the supreme court will examine the methodology for assessing low-income housing developments. Regency West, an owner and developer, says the city’s appraisal of apartment buildings was excessive and the methodology was incorrect.
That is, Regency West says the property should be assessed under an “income approach” rather than a “sales comparison approach.”
Brenner v. National Casualty Co. (caveat emptor)
This case examines the rule of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) in the context of a construction worker who was injured on recently acquired property.
Russell Brenner fell through a large hole in the pit of a building owned by Milwaukee World Festival, which had recently purchased the building from Garland Brothers. Garland had previously leased it long-term to Charter Manufacturing and knew about the pits where Charter had placed furnaces to heat metal for wire manufacturing.
Garland Brothers sold the building in “as-is, where-is” condition “with all faults.” Thus, Garland Brothers and Charter Manufacturing say they cannot be liable for injuries.
The circuit and appeals courts agreed that under the doctrine of caveat emptor, Milwaukee World Festival is the only party that Brenner can sue for negligence.
Milwaukee World Festival appealed, arguing that exceptions apply (under the Restatement of Torts) when a buyer takes property without knowledge of hazardous conditions created or concealed by a previous possessor.
Summaries derived from full summaries posted at www.wicourts.gov.