Just five of 31 three-judge decisions issued by the State Court of Appeals in January were signed, and 26 were unsigned "per curiam" decisions.
There were no dissents or concurrences in the five signed decisions, strengthening the appeals court's reputation as a most agreeable lot.
Judges who put their names to opinions were District 1 Reserve Appeals Judge Daniel L. LaRoque and District 1 Appeals Judges Kitty K. Brennan and Patricia S. Curley; and District 4 Appeals Judges Brian W. Blanchard and Paul B. Higginbotham. District 1 also issued four unsigned opinions, while District 4 issued 8. Judges on panels in Districts 2 and 3 did not put their name to any decisions, issuing unsigned opinions in six and eight cases, respectively.
Circuit court judges reversed include Outagamie Circuit Judge Gregory B. Gill Jr. (reversed in part), La Crosse County Circuit Judge Dale T. Passell (reversed in part), Trempealeau County Circuit Judge John A. Damon (reversed in part), Dane County Circuit Judge John C. Albert, Sawyer County Circuit Judge Gerald L. Wright, and Dane County Circuit Judge Frank D. Remington.
If you are keeping track, about 16% of three-person decisions were signed, and about 19% were partly or totally reversed.
There also were 20 one-judge decisions issued in January. Those decisions, issued in misdemeanor and a variety of other smaller types of cases (though small alimony disputes are decided by three-judge panels, and decisions on terminating parental rights are one-judge cases -- really, which is less important?), are always signed. The appeals court judges and the number of one-judges each issued are listed below.
District 1 -- Willliam W. Brash III (3), Brennan (2), Curley (2), Joan F. Kessler (2)
District 2 -- Brian K. Hagedorn (2)
District 3 -- Thomas M. Hruz (2), Mark A. Seidl Lisa K. Stark (4)
District 4 -- Paul Lundsten, Gary E. Sherman
Circuit court judges reversed and the appeals court judges reversing them were Milwaukee County Circuit Judge John Siefert (Brennan), Kenosha County Circuit Judge David P. Wilk (Hagedorn), Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Laura Gramling Perez (Kessler), and Brown County Circuit Judge Marc A. Hammer (Stark). The reversal rate for one-judge decisions was 20%.
These four appeals court judges, along with Reserve Judge Daniel L. LaRoque, issued signed decisions in January.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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