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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    April 01, 2017


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    By the Numbers


    The number of vacancies in the federal judiciary that have not yet been filled, of the 890 total judgeships authorized in the federal system.

    Forty-eight vacancies are considered “judicial emergencies.” In district courts and appeals courts, the “emergency” designation occurs when a vacancy causes a maximum overload in weighted filings per judgeship or the vacancy causes a sustained increase in weighted case filings per judgeship beyond 18 months. Cases are “weighted” based on the nature of the case.

    The Seventh Circuit, of which Wisconsin is a part, has two unfilled vacancies on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, including one that has remained unfilled for more than seven years. Both are considered “judicial emergencies.”

    Five other vacancies exist at the Seventh Circuit’s district court level, including one in Wisconsin’s Eastern District.

    A judicial emergency in Indiana’s federal Southern District has been temporarily relieved by two federal judges in Wisconsin, Eastern District Judges William C. Griesbach and Lynn S. Adelman, who are taking on civil cases from Indiana’s docket for three months.

    Source: U.S. Courts;


    “Too often, sarcastic attacks tear at the fabric of institutional legitimacy simply because of the language they use.”

    Patience Roggensack

    – Patience Roggensack, Wisconsin Supreme Court chief justice, delivering a speech last month for the annual Hallows Lecture at Marquette University Law School.

    Titled “Tough Talk and the Institutional Legitimacy of Our Courts,” the chief justice said “tough talk” by court critics inside and outside the legal community are harming the court’s legitimacy.

    “Tough talk undermines the perceived fairness and independence of courts on a broader basis than just the decision when the speaker chooses words that imply that the court is biased, rather than choosing words that disagree with the way the rule of law has been applied in a particular case,” Chief Justice Roggensack wrote.

    “And the more colorful and the more sarcastic the choice of words, the greater the likelihood that they will be repeated in the press, on the internet, and in social media.”

    Source: M.U. Law School Hallows Lecture 2017

    Out There

    Finally an Answer: Snuggies are Blankets, Not Robes

    people sleeping with blankets

    The Snuggie®, which Urban Dictionary describes as a “blanket with sleeves” or a “robe worn backwards,” made its fashion debut around 2008. The polyester fleece with sleeves and an open back – commonly used to get cozy at home but sometimes worn in public as a questionable fashion statement – has sparked debate: Is this thing a blanket or a lounging robe?

    Most recently, the U.S. Court of International Trade addressed the question, concluding that Snuggies are blankets and thus subject to lower import tariffs than those imposed on imported clothing. The judge noted that the Snuggie® portrays itself as a blanket, not clothing.

    “The Snuggie® is marketed as a blanket, albeit one with sleeves,” wrote Judge Mark Barnett. “Retail packaging depicts people wearing the Snuggie® in the types of situations one might use a blanket; for example, while seated or reclining on a couch or bed, or outside cheering a sports team.…

    “All of the above indicates that the Snuggie® is designed, used, and functions as a blanket, and is regarded in commerce and described in sales and marketing literature as a blanket.”

    Source: Bloomberg Law;

    Tech Tip

    How Is Your Website Performing? Google Search Console Will Tell You

    Google Console

    Ever wonder how your website is performing in Google Search results? Who is linking to your website? Whether your site has glitches that are affecting search results?

    Good news. Google Search Console is “a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results. You don’t have to sign up for Search Console for your site to be included in Google’s search results, but doing so can help you understand how Google views your site and optimize its performance in search results.”

    “Search Console also is one of the best ways to spot SEO problems with your pages,” according to a recent article in Law Technology Today. “There are a variety of technical issues that can impede your visibility in search results. Search Console is one of the most effective tools for quickly identifying and fixing the majority of these issues.”

    Source: Law Technology Today; Google Support

    From the Archives

    A Timeless Message

    Rodney KittelsenSome things never change. In 1977, State Bar of Wisconsin President Rodney Kittelsen had this to say in the Wisconsin Bar Bulletin (predecessor to Wisconsin Lawyer):

    “The right to practice and to represent the public is one which carries with it great responsibilities. These responsibilities cannot be met with our head in the sand. We now have before us a question of whether we, as lawyers, will responsively meet the problems of our times and in such a manner as to maintain the direction of the affairs of our Bar, or let our responsibilities pass to somebody else because of our default.”

    Four decades later, Kittelsen’s words ring true when he suggests that the State Bar play an active role in setting the course for the future.

    With that in mind, please vote in the State Bar elections this month. You decide who will influence the future of Wisconsin’s legal profession.

    For more information, visit

    On the Radar

    Legal Services Corporation on the Chopping Block

    LSC infographic Wisconsin

    President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget eliminates funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974.

    The LSC funds civil legal aid to low-income Americans, including Wisconsin residents. The LSC is the single largest provider of legal aid in the nation, distributing 95 percent of its federal appropriation to 134 legal aid programs, with more than 800 offices nationwide.

    The LSC is a primary source of funding for Legal Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Judicare, which provide free legal information, advice, and representation to low-income individuals with civil legal issues in Wisconsin.

    The State Bar of Wisconsin opposes any effort to defund or eliminate the LSC, given the important role it plays in helping Wisconsin residents obtain access to justice.

    Help save the LSC; join the American Bar Association’s grassroots campaign.

    Click here for more information.

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