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    Letters to the Editor

    Leonard ZubrenskyGordon Payne

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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 77, No. 8, August 2004


    Letters to the editor: The Wisconsin Lawyer publishes as many letters in each issue as space permits. Please limit letters to 500 words; letters may be edited for length and clarity. Letters should address the issues, and not be a personal attack on others. Letters endorsing political candidates cannot be accepted. Please mail letters to "Letters to the Editor," Wisconsin Lawyer, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, fax them to (608) 257-4343, or email them to org wislawyer wisbar wisbar wislawyer org.

    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 compensation.

    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 protection.

    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.