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Appellate Procedure: Traffic Forfeiture or Municipal Ordinance Appeal – Circuit Court Docket Entries Tantamount to Final Order

Village of McFarland v. Jennifer M. Zetzman, 2012 WI App 49 (recommended for publication); case activity

Appeal to the court of appeals of a municipal ordinance or traffic forfeiture disposition may be based on the circuit court docket entries instead of a written final order, whether the case originated in municipal or circuit court:

¶2        In this case, Jennifer Zetzman was convicted in municipal court of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and with a prohibited blood alcohol concentration.  Zetzman sought de novo review in the circuit court.  The circuit court affirmed Zetzman’s convictions. The court’s decision was not reduced to a signed written judgment or order, but was instead rendered orally and then recorded in the circuit court docket entries.  Zetzman appealed based on the circuit court docket entries.

¶3        We conclude that a traffic forfeiture case qualifies as having been “prosecuted in circuit court,” within the meaning of Wis. Stat.§ 808.03(1)(c), when the case has been appealed to the circuit court following an earlier municipal court decision.  It follows that a docket entry of the case’s disposition constitutes a final appealable judgment under§ 808.03(1)(c).

¶11      Accordingly, we now hold that a traffic forfeiture or municipal ordinance case has been “prosecuted in the circuit court” either if it originated there, or if it was appealed there following municipal court proceedings.  Therefore, docket entries resolving traffic forfeiture and municipal ordinance cases serve as final, appealable dispositions within the meaning of Wis. Stat. § 808.03(1).  This also means that docket entries will trigger the time to appeal in these cases, without regard to whether any written order is also entered.  See City of Sheboygan v. Flores, 229 Wis. 2d 242, 248, 598 N.W.2d 307 (Ct. App. 1999).  Because the appellant in this case is seeking review of a circuit court decision in a traffic forfeiture appeal from municipal court proceedings, no written order was required for this court to obtain jurisdiction.

The decision recognizes that in 3 discrete instances docket entries are treated as final orders, as exceptions to the general rule requiring a final written judgment or order: small claims, traffic forfeitures and municipal ordinance violations, ¶5.

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