If you have a multi-county practice or accept a case in a county where you do not routinely practice, you should immediately become familiar with the local court rules in that county.
Court rules vary from county to county and cover many diverse issues, such as the timelines for filing exhibits and filing briefs, due dates for filing financial disclosure statements and parenting plans, and the duty to confer with opposing counsel prior to having a motion heard.
Attorneys practicing in a new county who are unfamiliar with the local court rules may find their exhibits for a hearing excluded, their briefs struck, or their motions denied because they failed to confer with the opposing attorney prior to the hearing.
The best practice is to immediately review the local court rules and make sure a copy gets placed in your file.
The State Bar of Wisconsin website, WisBar.org, provides a links to these rules, making it easy to find them.
A Sampling of Local Court Rules
Here are a few examples of local court rules dealing with such issues:
Kenosha County Rules of the Circuit Court: CR 05-8 IN FAMILY MATTERS, STATEMENT OF DISPUTED ISSUES:
Each party shall exchange with opposing party a Statement of Disputed Issues” which shall include a detailed summary of the issues and theories of contention, a description of the relevant facts, a list of disputed household goods, a list of stipulations, and recommended conclusions. A balance sheet showing the recommended division of property shall be attached to the Statement of Disputed Issues 7 business days prior to the first scheduled Court Trial.
Ozaukee County Circuit Court Local Rules: 103.2 FILING OF DOCUMENTS
(a) All documents are to be electronically filed (except those exempt under Wis. Stats. §801.18) with the clerk of circuit court’s office at least seventy two (72) hours prior to the hearing for consideration at that hearing unless otherwise permitted by the court.
Ozaukee County Circuit Court Local Rules: 202.3 DISCOVERY MOTIONS
All motions relating to discovery or production of documents pursuant to Chapter 804, Wis. Stats., or any motion to serve additional interrogatories pursuant to Rule 202.2 must be accompanied by an affidavit by the moving party that, after consultation in person or by telephone with the opposing party and sincere attempts to resolve their differences, the parties are unable to reach an accord. The statement shall recite, in addition, the date and place of such consultation and the names of all parties participating therein. Seventy -two hour time frame does not apply to local rule 502.2 and small claims matters.
Waukesha County Circuit Court Local Family Court Rules: 5.2 Untimely Filing
If the findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment of divorce, legal separation, or annulment are not filed within thirty (30) days after the judgment is granted, the family clerk of courts office shall calendar and notice a hearing to dismiss the case due to such failure.
Sheboygan County Circuit Court Rule 6: 603 Briefs
If the movant desires to file a brief in support of a motion other than one for summary judgment, the brief shall be served and filed with the Clerk of Circuit Courts; a copy shall be served and filed on all opposing counsel; and a copy shall be filed with the assigned judge with the notice of motion or at least 10 days prior to any scheduled hearing date. Briefs in opposition to such motions must be filed no later than two business days prior to the hearing of the motion. Briefs in opposition to such motions must be either personally served upon opposing counsel no later than two business days prior to the hearing or if service is made by mail, no later than three business days prior to the hearing. Briefs filed in an untimely fashion may be disregarded by the court.
Conclusion: Stay Informed
When practicing in a new county or if you have a multicounty practice, it is incumbent to become familiar with local court rules before you find yourself on the outside looking in.
Local court rules can place time limits on filing of exhibits, briefs, motions, pre-trial reports, among other issues. You don’t want to have to explain to your client why documents or exhibits were excluded for failing to comply with local court rules or where sanctions may be imposed for failing to comply.
Another tip: talk with a local attorney in that county who can walk you through the local court rules and nuances of that particular court commissioner or judge you may be appearing in front of.
This article was originally published on the State Bar of Wisconsin’s
Family Law Section Blog. Visit the State Bar
sections or the
Family Law Section webpages to learn more about the benefits of section membership.