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“Written notice of appeal” of muni court judgment needn’t be “Notice of Appeal” form

City of Milwaukee v. David B. Munzinger, 2018AP2186, 7/23/2019, District 1 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Munzinger fought his OWI citation in the municipal court and lost; he filed an appeal to the circuit court pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 800.14. To do this, his counsel filed a form  in the circuit court captioned “Notice of Appeal” (probably this one, provided by the municipal court). He also emailed the city attorney alerting him to the appeal and apparently spoke to him about it. But, his email didn’t include a copy of the “Notice of Appeal” form. The city moved to dismiss and the circuit court granted the motion.

The court of appeals reverses, and concludes Munzinger perfected his appeal. It’s a pretty straightforward plain-meaning case of statutory construction: nothing in the statute provides a particular form for the “written notice” the appellant has to give. (¶12). To this the court adds that “the law favors appeals from the lower courts,” Kremer v. Arians, 141 Wis. 662, 665, 124 N.W. 1064 (1910), and concludes the email was enough for the city “to ascertain what judgment was complained of,” id. at 666. (The court doesn’t mention the city’s other argument, that Munzinger was required to serve the appropriate city officer under Wis. Stat. § 801.11(4)(a)3., rather than informing the city’s lawyer. This would not seem to make much sense; generally the personal jurisdiction acquired in the lower court action follows the case up on appeal; in any case § 800.14 requires only the “giv[ing]” of written notice and doesn’t say anything about service.)

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