Wisconsin Supreme Court Picks Up the Pace Under New Procedure

This installment is the second in our series on the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s 2017-18 term.  For the previous installment, click here.

The United States Supreme Court made headlines earlier this year for getting behind on its work.  Fortunately, Wisconsin’s supreme court has been trending in the opposite direction.  What is behind this development?

We wrote in December 2014 about the Wisconsin court’s new opinion drafting procedure.  As we discussed then:

  • A series of deadlines and flowcharts now govern each stage of the opinion-writing process and limit the timing of opinion revisions.
  • Justices no longer, as they once did, discuss draft opinions in conference, unless a majority of the court affirmatively votes to do so.
  • Justices can no longer place indefinite “holds” on the release of the court’s opinion.
  • Separate writings may be released after majority opinions, if necessary (though we haven’t seen this happen yet).

While the new procedure drew considerable criticism when it was adopted, the court has been releasing opinions faster since then.  By the end of April 2018, the court had released 28 opinions, nearly half of the cases that it decided during the term. By the end of June, the court had released 90% of its opinions, leaving only five decisions to be released in July.  By comparison, in the last term when the court did not use this procedure, two-thirds of its opinions had not been released by the end of June, and two opinions were not released until August.

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Overview of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s 2017-18 Term

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s 2018-19 term began with arguments last month, and the first opinion of the term is expected tomorrow. Before we dive into this year’s term, we thought we would review the statistics of the 2017-18 term and highlight a couple of the court’s important decisions from the term, which saw the conclusion of Justice Michael Gableman’sservice and the election of his successor, Justice Rebecca Dallet.

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Seventh Circuit Issues Two Opinions Limiting Scope of State and Local Authority over Labor Law

Over the course of the past two weeks, the Seventh Circuit has issued two separate opinions that limit the ability of state and local governments to craft their own labor law policy.  In doing so, the court created a circuit split and raised an interesting question of the ability of the lower courts to disregard Supreme Court summary dispositions when the dispositions have arguably been undermined by later case law.

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SCOTUS Keeps Door Open for Federal-Law, State-Court Securities Class Actions.  Where Does This Leave Katz?

In Cyan, Inc. v. Beaver County Employees Retirement Fund, No. 15-1439 (Mar. 20, 2018), the Supreme Court recently held that certain federal securities-law claims could proceed in state courts—despite the narrowing effect of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA) and the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (SLUSA)—and that those claims were not removable to federal court under SLUSA’s removal provision.  But Cyan leaves intact (for now, at least) Seventh Circuit law on the removal of 1933 Act claims under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).

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Seventh Circuit Records First Video of Oral Argument

Those who follow the workings of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit are no doubt accustomed to visiting the court’s website (http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov) to read the daily release of published opinions or to listen to the court’s audio recordings of oral arguments. The former are available here; the latter are available here and normally are posted in the afternoon, a few hours after that morning’s oral arguments.

Court watchers now have a new option available from the Seventh Circuit: video of certain oral arguments. The court reviewed the practices of other courts around the country that video-recorded their oral arguments, and, on May 1, 2018, it adopted Operating Procedure 11, which allows for a “request for video-recording” to “be submitted to the Clerk of the Court not later than one week before oral argument.” The Operating Procedure further provides an opportunity for the parties to object and leaves the decision in the “sole discretion” of the argument panel. (The Operating Procedure notes that “[t]he panel will normally deny the request if one member objects.”)

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