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SCOW to review yet another knotty 51 appeal

Waukesha County v. M.A.C., 2023AP533, petition for review of an unpublished court of appeals decision granted 12/11/23; case activity (including briefs)

Showing that SCOW’s interest in 51 appeals remains unabated, SCOW has accepted review of a big case that could result in the overturning of relatively recent precedent.

As we discussed in our post, this is a concerning case that permitted the involuntary medication and recommitment of a person, despite all parties to the action conceding that the respondent at issue apparently did not know these legal proceedings were ongoing. In response to that unjust outcome, M.A.C. raised a bevy of legal challenges, including frontal attacks aimed at SCOW’s recent decision in Waukesha County v. S.L.L., which seemingly opened the door to default judgments in 51 actions, in addition to possibly muddling the law regarding service in civil actions and creating a plausible conflict with SCOTUS’ due process jurisprudence.

We don’t have access to the petition for review given confidentiality so we aren’t sure which specific issues made it into SCOW, but this case is interesting both for 51 litigators (as it has the potential to change even recent law in this dynamic area) but also for general court watchers. S.L.L. produced a contentious 4-3 split along conventional ideological lines, with Justice Kelly drafting the majority opinion and Justice A.W. Bradley authoring a fiery dissent. Although Justice Karofsky has been more willing to side with 51 appellants so far, she has not voted in lockstep with the other “liberals” on the bench, and has been willing to join the “conservatives” in close cases. We also have no idea where Justice Protasiewicz comes down on these interesting issues. And, even if four justices agree that M.A.C. is entitled to relief, this will also be an interesting case study to see how far the new “liberal” majority will go in modifying or even overruling recent precedents which stand in their way. We expect fiery oral arguments, much discussion of fidelity to stare decisis, and, perhaps, some new changes in our 51 law.

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