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Bad news, good news on Chapter 51 appeals

The moment Chapter 51 lawyers have been waiting for has . . . been postponed.  This term SCOW was set to decide whether appeals from expired recommitment orders are ever moot. See our post on Portage County v. E.R.R., 2019AP20133. After briefing and oral argument (in which Justice Anne Walsh Bradley did not participate), SCOW split 3-3 on the issue.  This means that the order dismissing E.R.R.’s appeal as moot stands. That’s the bad news.  Here’s the good news.

SCOW recently granted review on the same issue in Sauk County v. S.A.M. Then in conjunction with the demise of E.R.R., it ordered the parties in S.A.M. to address a new issue relating to mootness. It seems some members of SCOW are hoping to order the court of appeals to decide Chapter 51 appeals. Here’s the new issue:

Whether this court has the authority, through its “superintending and administrative authority over all courts” (Wis. Const. art. VII, § 3(1)) and/or its authority to “regulate pleading, practice, and procedure in judicial proceedings in all courts” (Wis. Stat. § 751.12(1)), to require the court of appeals to expedite the disposition of appeals under Wis. Stat. ch. 51, or in some other manner to ensure that appellants under Wis. Stat. ch. 51 receive an appeal that addresses the merits of the appellants’ contentions?

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