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Briefs – Citing Unnpublished Opinions

State v. Wallace I. Stenzel, 2004 WI App 181For Stenzel: Martin E. Kohler

Issue/Holding: Citation to an unpublished 7th Circuit case is proper, ¶18 n. 6:

Wisconsin Stat. Rule 809.23(3) does not prohibit us from citing unpublished opinions from other jurisdictions. Predick v. O’Connor, 2003 WI App 46, ¶12 n.7, 260 Wis. 2d 323, 660 N.W.2d 1, review denied, 2003 WI 32, 260 Wis. 2d 753, 661 N.W.2d 101 (Wis. Apr. 22, 2003) (Nos. 02-0503, 02-0504), cert denied, 124 S. Ct. 809 (U.S. Wis. Dec. 1, 2003) (No. 03-429). And the Seventh Circuit’s rule on citation of its unpublished opinions only prohibits citation of an “unpublished opinion” as precedent in any federal court in that circuit. 7th Cir. R. 53(b)(2)(iv). We are citing to the opinion not for its precedential value but for its persuasive value. State ex rel. Gendrich v. Litscher, 2001 WI App 163, ¶7 n.6, 246 Wis. 2d 814, 632 N.W.2d 878.

Just so we’re perfectly clear: the way the court of appeals interprets Rule 809.23(3), the only unpublished decisions it can’t look at are its own. Circuit court rulings, administrative decisions, unpublished opinions from every other jurisdiction in the world, but if you cite the court of appeals’ own unpublished output you will have to open your wallet even as your audience closes its ears, State v. John S. Cooper, 2003 WI App 227, ¶¶23-26. Whether or not you philosophically support a no-cite rule, the administration of this one puts the rule in serious need of overhaul.

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