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    Vol. 76, No. 9, September 2003

    Legal news & trendsLegal News & Trends

    Budget Bill Increases Court Filing Fees

    Wisconsin's biennial budget bill, 2003 Wis. Act 33, raises fees for using the state's justice system. The budget bill's enactment brings with it more than $400 million in increased fees, among which is the creation of a first-time ever annual report fee for Wisconsin's limited liability companies. Millions more come directly from raising fees for using the state's justice system.

    The court support services fee, one of the fees assessed on individuals using the court system, was increased by 30 percent under the budget bill. This is the second year in a row that court filing fees were increased by 30 percent.

    To Learn More ...

    For additional information on court filing fees and other legislation, please consult these sources:

    • Access a circuit court fee summary, a summary of assessments and surcharges, a civil forfeiture table, and a criminal fine table put out by the Director of State Courts Office (summary reflects Act 33 changes) at www.wicourts.govPDF 684 KB.
    • Access the full text of Act 33, a 426-page document, at www.legis.state.wi.usPDF 2.9 MB.
    • Access the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's memo, "Tax and Fee Modifications Included in 2003 Wisconsin Act 33."
    • Access other recently enacted laws at www.legis.state.wi.us.

    Under Wis. Stat. section 814.634, the court support services fee is increased in the following ways:

    • from $52 to $68 for certain civil actions and special proceedings, third-party complaints, appeals from municipal court, and reviews of administrative decisions and forfeiture actions;
    • from $130 to $169 for certain large claim civil actions and special proceedings, and third-party complaints or certain garnishment or wage earner actions; and
    • from $39 to $51 for certain small claims actions, civil actions, special proceedings, and third-party complaints or certain garnishment or wage earner actions.

    The increases are in addition to general filing fees and other fees, which can vary depending on case type.

    Additional justice related fees increased under Act 33 include:

    • supreme court filing fee raised from $150 to $195 for filing of an appeal, cross-appeal, petition to review, petition to bypass, or other proceeding;
    • court of appeals filing fee raised from $150 to $195 for filing an appeal, cross-appeal, petition to review, petition to bypass, or other proceeding;
    • special prosecution clerks fee in Milwaukee County raised from $2.00 to $3.50; and
    • crime laboratories and drug law enforcement assessment raised from $5 to $7.

    For more information, contact Dan Rossmiller, State Bar of Wisconsin Public Affairs Director, (800) 444-9404, ext. 6140.

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    Women lawyers sought for economic growth task forces

    In June, Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton announced her initiative, Wisconsin Women = Prosperity, a statewide project to build economic growth in Wisconsin by improving the status of women in the state. The year-long project seeks volunteers to serve on task forces addressing factors affecting employment, health care, economic self-sufficiency, educational achievement, and other barriers to success.

    "We start our work precisely 40 years after Gov. John B. Reynolds called for the first statewide Conference on Wisconsin Status of Women," said Lawton. "This is a project of civic engagement to educate the public and its servants in the complex issues that define the lives of women, pose questions we must address to drive good decisions in both the public and private sector, and build strength by capturing the potential of Wisconsin's women."

    Lawton is enlisting the help of business leaders, academicians, union leaders, students, policymakers, and homemakers to develop new models to improve the status of women in Wisconsin. She will continue to solicit help from every corner of the state as work progresses to ensure that best practices are discovered and propagated everywhere, and that recommendations made will effectively reflect and address the reality of women in rural, suburban and urban settings.

    According to State Bar Gender Equity Committee Chair Caryl Shortridge Peters, who was contacted by the Lt. Governor's office, "Lawton asks the State Bar to support this initiative and specifically requests involvement of any Bar members on the task forces. One project goal is to establish a permanent structure to provide legislative support for issues important to Wisconsin women. This is an opportunity for women in the legal profession to participate in a project with far-reaching potential that will ultimately improve not only the status of Wisconsin women but other groups as well."

    Four task forces will gather and analyze data to create a clear picture of women with regional specificity and identify specific markers/barriers defined by race, ethnicity, and age. The task forces will address economic sufficiency; leadership and political participation; educational achievement; health, safety, and well being. The task forces will uncover best practices to propagate success, establish measurements of progress, and study ways to ensure that women participate fully in every aspect of society. Atty. M. Angela Dentice, Milwaukee, Leadership and Political Participation task force co-chair, says meetings will be held around the state and encourages participation from other Bar members to work on this exciting new project.

    Two other task forces will assist the project with fundraising and media for the statewide conference in Madison on June 29, 2004. The project will culminate at the June conference where the results of the year-long study will be reported, along with policy recommendations for short- and long-term improvements.

    To volunteer for a task force, email or call (608) 266-3516.

    Colwin named state law librarian; new demands on today's librarian

    Jane ColwinThe Wisconsin Supreme Court appointed Jane Colwin state law librarian, effective June 30. Colwin, who has served as interim co-state law librarian since 2000, oversees the operation of the main library in the Risser Justice Center on the Capitol Square and the branch libraries in the Dane and Milwaukee county courthouses.

    "One of the biggest challenges facing the State Law Library today is striking the right balance between print and Internet resources while still serving the members of the bench and bar and the public," says Colwin. "Many new products are only available online, and we must figure out the best way to provide the information in a cost-efficient manner and still meet our users' needs.

    "Today, the librarian's role is changing from researcher and provider of information to trainer and educator," continues Colwin. "As the Internet grows, we find users look to us to learn how to use electronic resources in the legal research process."

    Historical fact: State Law Library created in 1836 with a 5K budget

    The Wisconsin State Law Library is the state's oldest library, established by the U.S. Congress when the Wisconsin Territory was created in 1836 so that the frontier legislators would have access to law books. The federal act provided $5,000 to purchase materials for the new library.

    Early last year the library began offering workshops in the computer-training room, located in the main library, which is equipped with eight computers. Classes usually are filled to capacity.

    "Another role for today's librarian is responding to email," says Colwin. "We receive email requests for information nationwide. Oftentimes the request is from a private citizen who believes he is talking to an attorney, and each request for information must be carefully addressed."

    Colwin has worked for the state court system since June 1984, when she was hired as government documents librarian. Since then she has held various positions, including serving as the library's head of public services from 1997 until her appointment as co-state law librarian. She holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Tulsa and a master's in library science from the U.W.-Madison.

    Visit www.wsll.state.wi.us for information on upcoming workshop offerings.